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NYU Begins Ignoring Common App’s Questions on Criminal Records

New York University has begun ignoring the checkbox questions about criminal and disciplinary history on the Common Application, the institution announced on Monday.

The university has added narrower questions to its own section of the application that ask applicants if they have been convicted of or disciplined for violent offenses, but answering “yes” to the new questions will not mean an automatic rejection of an application for admission, according to a news release.

The university announced in May 2015 that it had stopped considering applicants’ criminal records at the start of its admissions process. Instead, admissions officers read applications without knowing whether an applicant has answered “yes” to the questions about criminal and disciplinary history. When applicants are set to be admitted to the university, the admissions officers then see which of those applicants answered “yes” and will review their criminal histories.

The Common Application, which is used by about 600 colleges and universities, tweaked its questions about criminal and disciplinary history in May by removing language asking about crimes other than misdemeanors and felonies, the Associated Press reported.

The “ban the box” movement in college admissions, which seeks to lower barriers to higher education for people with criminal records, has gained prominence over the past few months. The Obama administration called on colleges and universities in June to reconsider whether to ask applicants about their criminal histories.

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