A Syracuse non-profit is urging colleges to eliminate the disciplinary section from student applications and asking school districts not to cooperate.
The Center for Community Alternatives in Syracuse has been looking at the issue for nearly two years.
The Common Application, used by hundreds of colleges across the country, contains a section that asks students two questions related to discipline.
Have you ever been found responsible for a disciplinary violation at any educational institution you have attended from the 9th grade forward, whether related to academic misconduct or behavioral misconduct, that resulted in a disciplinary action?
Have you ever been adjudicated guilty or convicted of a misdemeanor, felony or other crime?
“For a lot of colleges it undermines explicit parts of their mission that they really want to encourage access for the broader community and this is something that really undermines that,” Emily NaPier of the Center for Community Alternatives tells NewsChannel 9.
She says there’s no proof security and safety at colleges improves with information gathered in this section.
“Very few of them actually have any policies about how to use it, any kind of training for admissions officials about how to interpret the information,” NaPier says.
Bill Cheetham, the Assistant Vice President of Enrollment at Le Moyne College, says, “Because of the issues in society that create potential dangers to our students on campus, every opportunity we may have to identify a potential situation that could be harmful to our students I think we need to be vigilant and reach out for.”
Cheetham says students do have the opportunity to explain themselves in this section and school guidance counselors also have the chance to clarify anything disclosed there.
“More times than not we find what the student lists there is a great indication of their honesty and integrity more so than a real discipline problem,” Cheetham says.
According to the Center for Community Alternatives about 73% of colleges they surveyed ask the disciplinary question and roughly 50% of school districts have policies prohibiting them from revealing any disciplinary information to colleges.
The Syracuse City School Board in December approved a policy to no longer share disciplinary information with colleges.