Criminal Past May Bar UW Admission

The University of Washington will possibly add questions about criminal records to its application process. While the institution is only considering it, if approved, the mandatory questions would appear on 2014’s fall quarter application.

The conversation about adding disciplinary history to its application was sparked last year with UW’s accidental acceptance of two level three sex offenders. A decision will most likely be made next month about the new questions, but there is controversy from both sides of the issue. Eric Godfrey, vice president and vice provost of Student Life told UW’s The Daily that a criminal history would be taken into “account before we made an admissions decision.” He also added that while the questions won’t bar students from being accepted into the school, there is a “high obligation to ensure that this campus is safe.”

Some programs already include criminal history to its acceptance process, like Law and Dentistry. Students answering these questions would have the opportunity to explain the situation, and UW has said that it would focus on weapon and sex related crimes. Those applicants would be analyzed by a group of mental health experts and other authorities of similar fields.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing necessarily. You shouldn’t be banned from school for a criminal past, but if you’re committing crimes, you should know what that comes with,” said Husky Sarah Johnson.

Student George Lee has a different opinion, and said, “People with huge long records shouldn’t get in. I already get so many emails about crimes [at UW] Seattle.”

Other students voiced concerns about denying access to a public school, and how it will affect admission rates for students without any disciplinary history. Many universities in the U.S. are considering adding these criminal history questions, and UW will soon decide whether or not to join them.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the self-proclaimed “nation’s guardian of liberty,” released a statement about the matter saying that a “record alone” doesn’t necessarily “mean that a person will be a safety problem on campus.”


Illustration by Danielle Burch