Occupation over Question

Students Occupy NTU's Student Center

Students and community members are demanding that NYU abolish the box on their college application

New York, NY - NYU students and community members are occupying NYU’s Kimmel Center for University Life to demand that the NYU administration immediately abolish the box on NYU’s college applications – the question that asks whether applicants have a criminal record. The group plans to stay in Kimmel until their demands are met, overnight if necessary. The group has recently been told that staying past midnight constitutes trespassing and may result in disciplinary action.

The box has been banned in employment practices in New York City. The ACLU and the New York State Bar Association have both condemned the use of the box in education applications. There is currently a bill (the Fair Access to Education Act) before the NY State Senate banning the box in education. NYU’s own Silver School of Social Work abolished the box, and NYU Wagner does not ask the question.

Emma Pliskin, a NYU alum and IEC organizer, commented, “The box disproportionately impacts black, brown, poor, LGBTQIA, and immigrant communities, because those communities are unfairly targeted by the criminal justice system. NYU should not be complicit in that racist, homophobic, and xenophobic system.”

For three years, IEC has been engaging with NYU administration officials. The organization has been demanding that NYU pressure the Common App to remove the box. In response, NYU has contacted the Common App requesting the Common App conduct a research study on the Box. IEC believes that NYU’s call for research does not take sufficient action against an exclusive and harmful policy.

Sumathy Kumar, and NYU student and IEC organizer, stated, “IEC is sitting in because NYU’s actions are not enough. Formerly incarcerated people continue to be excluded from higher education by this policy. There is already sufficient research showing the positive effects of removing the box. NYU must stop the sham.”

The action is being framed as a space to “un-box education” and to showcase what inclusive higher education is supposed to look like with directly impacted people, students, activists and artists coming together to share knowledge. Administrators so far have refused demands.

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