University of Illinois

U of Illinois Drops Criminal Past Question From Application

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Admissions applications to the University of Illinois campuses are no longer requiring students to disclose whether or not they have a criminal background.

A student-led coalition urged the university to remove questions about criminal and disciplinary history, saying it discouraged potential students from applying, The Champaign News-Gazette reported.

A 2015 study at the State University of New York, “Boxed Out,” found that more than 60% of students who had to check the criminal history box did not complete their applications.

To maintain the safety of the campus and to ensure those ultimately admitted do not pose a security threat, the criminal history questions were moved to the point after an admissions decision has been made but before students enroll, “balancing safety and access.”

Under a new “box blind” policy, students who are admitted will get a notice asking them to provide information about any criminal background. The policy is being adopted for all three university campuses in Champaign-Urbana, Chicago and Springfield.

Julian Parrott, assistant vice president for academic affairs for the university's admission system, said if the applicant has been convicted, or charges are pending, they must provide a description of the incident, the outcome and documents such as court records or parole requirements.

Pending review of the information provided, a decision will be made whether to admit the student — with or without conditions — or rescind the offer.

The university's decision doesn’t go far enough for William Vavrin, a 2019 graduate of the university's Chicago campus and founder of “Yes Apply Illinois.” He calls the questions “invasive and humiliating.”

Vavrin would like university officials to remove them entirely “so students don’t have to worry about their applications ultimately being rejected during that waiting period. You still have the possibility of getting denied.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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