As of 2018, students who apply to a two-year or four-year college within the State University System of New York will no longer have to disclose whether they have been convicted of a felony.
SUNY officials, who oversee the nation's largest public university system, voted on Wednesday to "ban the box" on student applications that asks about criminal history. An internal memo outlining SUNY's decision credited a 2015 analysis that found nearly two-thirds of applicants who disclosed having a felony record had dropped out of the application process.
Alan Rosenthal, an attorney with the Syracuse-based Center for Community Alternatives, an advocacy group for former inmates that investigated SUNY's treatment of applicants, said he was elated to learn that his analysis influenced the change.
"This is the first public education system in any state to reverse course, and reject the box," Rosenthal told The Marshall Project. "Hopefully other states will do the same."
SUNY spokeswoman Holly Liapis, however, noted that students will still face criminal background inquiries when applying for on-campus housing, internships and study abroad programs.