House Reps. Morgan Cephas (D-192) and Jason Ortitay (R-46) are calling for a law which would prevent public colleges and universities in Pennsylvania from inquiring about a potential student’s criminal history, with the exception of certain crimes.
“Students applying to institutions of higher education who may have a criminal record of some type are often at a disadvantage when seeking to better their lives and become full-time contributing members of society,” a House memorandum released by Cephas and Ortitay said. “Further, such individuals, if they do become students, are faced with many challenges in attempting to make it to the finish line by completing their degree and graduating.”
The memorandum cited a study claiming that two-thirds of State University of New York (SUNY) applicants with a felony conviction failed to complete the application process, compared to a rate of 21 percent for all applicants.
If a student is accepted into the institution, the proposed legislation would not prevent the school from making such inquiries for the purpose of offering counseling or making decisions regarding the student’s participation in campus life.
“We need to eliminate the barriers for those young people who are seeking to better their lives and continue their education,” the memorandum said. “Please join us in helping to make this possible by co-sponsoring this legislation.”