By Harry Grigorian '19
Please find the chorale trip vlogs article here.
In January, Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly and Senate, my home state, voted to ban the question regarding criminal history from applications to colleges receiving state funds. The bill was vetoed by Governor Larry Hogan, but Democrats had the numbers to override his veto and pass the bill to “ban the box.” This bill should be repulsive to Marylanders with any sense of reason, and I am shocked to see this bill supported by the party that calls itself the party of social justice.
Allow me to pose some uncomfortable questions. Would you want your sister or daughter living next door to a convicted sexual predator? Would you want your son living in a dorm with an ex-drug dealer? Of course, the obvious answer is no.
In the age of the #MeToo movement, which I fully support, shouldn’t we try to ensure that sexual misconduct is lessened in every way possible? This bill does the opposite, thrusting convicted felons into areas ripe with youth who so often fall victim to sexual predators.
Now, of course we need to help ex-criminals get back on their feet. Cycles of criminality in this country are ever-present, so helping criminals, especially in their young, college years, should be a priority for all of us. “You’re hired!” sounds a lot better than “You have the right to remain silent.”
This bill, however, is not the answer because it is too much of a “one-size-fits-all” approach. I would be a lot more comfortable with my daughter having a floormate with a drinking citation than I would one with domestic assault charges. In essence, we are asking for problems with this bill. Placing convicted criminals, with the college unaware of their criminal history, in close quarters with other students lights an irreversible fuse.
Essentially, the entire process needs to be overhauled. First, the question on college applications should only apply to convicted felons or violent misdemeanors. If you have one of those, you should absolutely be required to disclose it on your application: mitigating violence is just common sense. Thus, the college can gauge whether it has the resources and confidence to ensure that you and those around you will have a safe college experience.
As long as you have only committed non-violent misdemeanors, you should have to submit an application to a nonpartisan MD agency. This application would contain details of the crime, and efforts you have made to change. If they clear your application, you would then be allowed not to disclose your criminal behavior on college apps.
This process would be a happy medium and a common sense consensus in Annapolis. It allows for personal reform, as Democrats want, yet also ensures security for our friends and family in college, a demand of the Republicans.
I agree that school is a great setting to help criminals get back on their feet, but under the “ban the box” bill, there is too much left up to chance.