"Chancellor Rebecca Blank said the university was not aware of student Daniel L. Dropik’s conviction when he was admitted to UW-Madison because the university is barred from asking about or considering an applicant’s criminal history."So is it a bad policy? Blank asked the UW Regents to reconsider the policy, and the student government came out with a statement against her:
The statement from members of the Associated Students of Madison also repeated concerns UW administrators have not done enough to address racism on campus....It's a crash in the racism intersection. The student that prompted the call for reconsideration was white, with a criminal record of anti-black racism, but the policy is designed to help minority applicants:
“We know who is predominantly impacted by the criminal justice system and we know that it isn’t young, financially secure white men,” representative Brooke Evans said in the statement. “And we know that it doesn’t take a criminal history to determine the capacity for hate in the present.”Blank seems to be trying to maintain a neutral position. I think she knows not to be goaded into discriminating against a student organization based on its viewpoint. And her request to the Regents seems to play it down the middle:
The statement also called for Blank to label the organization student Daniel Dropik is trying to start on campus as a white supremacist group. The ASM members said Blank must “craft tangible policies that actually address the racism that is perpetuated by students, faculty, academic staff, university staff and administrators on this campus.”
The chancellor wrote she recognizes “how important it is to ensure that students who have made mistakes and paid their debt to society are not denied an education,” and said a prior criminal conviction should not be “an automatic bar to admission.”ADDED: What I would suggest — and I have done a lot of law school admissions work — is to get the information about past arrests and convictions and require a statement about it. What has the individual done with his experience? What will he bring to the classroom and to his future career? It could be considered a positive diversity factor for some applicants. If someone came from a poor family that lived in a crime-ridden neighborhood and fell into crime but served his sentence and could show that he had reflected and matured and done some positive things to orient himself toward education and a career, I would count that as a plus factor.
“But there are risks in remaining entirely ignorant of an applicant’s felony record,” Blank added. “I believe it is appropriate now to engage in a broad discussion with stakeholders about how we balance campus safety, particularly in a time when we are working hard to ensure all students feel welcome and protected, with the rights of students who have committed violent crimes.”