In an effort to ensure all students get a fair chance at education, New York University has decided to ignore the common application questions on disciplinary and criminal history, according to TIME.
In the future, NYU will continue to use the Common App for college applications, but instead of using the provided misdemeanor section, they are including two more specific questions that they will only review after the first “blind reading.”
The new NYU questions, according to a press release:
Within the last seven years after the age of 14, have you ever been convicted at trial, or pled guilty to, a criminal offense involving violence, physical force or the threat of physical force, a sexual offense, possession of a weapon, kidnapping, arson or any offense which caused physical harm to another person? You should answer “no” if your conviction has been sealed, expunged, or overturned or if you were arrested but not convicted.
Have you ever been found guilty of a disciplinary violation at your previous high school, college or university for any act involving violence, physical force or the threat of physical force, a sexual offense, possession of a weapon, kidnapping, arson or any offense which caused physical harm to another person?
The school decided to ignore the Common App questions because they were too broad—NYU only wanted to focus on people who had committed violent crimes, and could potentially pose a threat on campus. For example, if you got arrested for smoking weed in high school, NYU doesn't really care. But even if someone did commit a violent crime, that wouldn't mean an automatic rejection from the school.
"If someone has committed a violent crime, we want to know and want to have an opportunity to get more information from the applicant, judge the context, and evaluate whether there might be ongoing safety concerns for our campus," said MJ Knoll-Finn, NYU’s Vice President for Enrollment Management, in the NYU press release.
What they want to stress the most is that all prospective students should be treated with the same respect and that an infraction early in life shouldn’t be enough to deny an education—and certainly won’t bar any NYU hopeful from the chance of getting one.