New York University announced plans that its admission office will ignore the question regarding criminal and disciplinary actions on the Common Application for the Class of 2021 and all incoming classes thereafter. NYU admissions officers will initially read all applications without knowledge of whether or not an applicant has checked the box stating that they have been convicted of a crime. After the first evaluation, if an academically qualified applicant has checked the box indicating that he has been convicted, a specialized group will focus on him separately for a fair and holistic review.
Vice President of Enrollment at NYU MJ Knoll-Finn highlighted the benefits of this decision.
“This new approach will separate the issues of an applicant’s academic qualifications from his or her history of criminal conviction and ensure the fairest possible hearing while still enabling the University to make thoughtful decisions about ensuring the safety of its community,” Knoll-Finn said.
This new implementation is consistent with the goals of many colleges who want to extend their reach beyond the normal demographic of students.
Co-Director of College Counseling Monica DePriest expressed her thoughts on the policy change.
“You will hear virtually every college or university these days talking about access, and I think that NYU sees this as another opportunity to provide access to a post-secondary education,” DePriest said. “This is just another population that they want to be open to, much like first-generation college students or underrepresented students of color or even non-traditional students who have been working and want to attend to kind of advance their careers as well.”
According to the statistics on NYU’s public website, the applicant pool will not be significantly affected by the change in the application process. Typically, NYU receives anywhere from 50-80 applications a year from students who have indicated that he or she has been convicted convicted of a crime, and approximately 5-10 of those applicants are admitted yearly. A small committee will develop in the next five years in order to test the effectiveness and benefit of this new approach.
Although the idea of having convicted criminals on campus can trigger safety concerns, the NYU website assures that , “NYU has a duty to evaluate this information in a fair and equitable way, keeping in mind the importance of providing a safe environment for our community.”
There is a limit to the extent of the leniency that NYU will extend, depending on the crimes committed. This new development is not predicted have a very large impact on the community as a whole.
“If a university is going to admit someone with a record, they’re certainly going to keep those things in mind when they’re making housing assignments and things along those lines, but I can’t imagine how it might impact someone else,” DePriest said. “I think it depends on the type of crime the person is convicted of.”