“Criminal history screening in the admission process has nothing to do with education or learning, creativity or discovery. It is, however, symptomatic of how thoroughly militarized residents of the USA have become — from wearing photo IDs as jewelry though accepting the notion that there are “enemies” who ought to be excluded from any and all aspects of social and civic life. I have fought this box at other institutions where those in charge — often people of color or white first-generation college graduates — explain to me that the “federal government” requires the information. Not so. I have cut and pasted the relevant regulations (related very very narrowly to specific histories of drug offenses on the one hand, and eligibility for federal student aid on the other), and those responsible then try to explain away my evidence by raising general concerns about “safety”. Why? The zeal to screen is part of US political culture, that rests on the belief in a perpetual enemy who must always be fought, but who can never be vanquished. The practice has to stop, and banning the box is one small but precise way to put the brakes on the culture of war.”

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