A ‘yes’ to ‘banning the box’ at DePaul

DePaul University Loop campus

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

DePaul University Loop campus

DePaul Faculty Council approved a motion to “ban the box” at its June 5 — and final — meeting of the 2018-2019 academic year.

The “Ban the Box” movement is a campaign to remove questions on college applications regarding an applicant’s criminal history.

DePaul students Shelby Klingberg, Katrina Phidd and Annie Scoltock presented before the council to advocate for the ban.

DePaul University upholds barriers to education for those with criminal backgrounds, said Klingberg, co-president of Students Against Incarceration (SAI).

Klingberg also said recidivism — a tendency to reoffend — disproportionately affects people of color and poor people.

Anthropology professor Nila Ginger Hofman, political science professor Valerie Johnson and inorganic chemistry professor Quinetta Shelby were faculty sponsors of the motion.

Ahmed Zayed, a mathematical sciences professor, said that there could be safety concerns with having students with criminal backgrounds as part of the university.

Not all members of the council agreed with that idea, however.

“Previous studies have shown no correlation between a decrease in safety and letting former offenders into all aspects of university life,” Hofman told The DePaulia.

Klingberg also told the DePaulia on June 3 that those convicted of certain violent crimes could be barred from housing or internships.

It is ultimately up to the administration to decide whether to remove the questions, as Hofman told The DePaulia on June 3.

Johnson and Shelby both said they were “thrilled” by the motion passing.

“We support education for everyone,” Klingberg said. “We believe everyone has that right.”

President A. Gabriel Esteban also visited the council for a Q+A. Esteban discussed upholding the goals as a Catholic, urban, Vincentian university.

As an effort to support the mission, Esteban said the university created two new scholarships: The Chicago Promise Scholarship and the Catholic Heritage Scholarship.

Another goal, Esteban said, was to create an inclusive and diverse learning environment. He said the Star Scholars Program and the DePaul Harold Washington Academy allows Chicago Public Schools students a pathway to a bachelor’s degree.

Esteban also said he wanted the university to increase its school spirit. Efforts include a freshman convocation set for Sept. 10, a pancake breakfast, the Tree Lighting Ceremony that occurred in November 2018 and a winter display in the Loop Campus.

But there were still concerns about diversity at DePaul, especially for prospective students.

Shelby said a prospective student recently approached her.

“I was asked by a young, African-American lady, ‘What is DePaul doing to make me feel welcome?’” Shelby said.  “How can I answer her? Once she gets here, how can she feel welcome?”

Esteban said Shelby’s concern was something the university can address.


CORRECTION: A previous version of this articles incorrectly quoted Phidd saying that students with criminal backgrounds would be forced to meet quarterly with Student Affairs. This is the current policy at DePaul and not a tenet of SAI’s campaign.