I appreciate that the Princeton Students for Prison Education and Reform would like to Ban the Box that requires undergraduate applicants to indicate their conviction history due to the classist and racist way that our criminal-justice system disproportionately convicts young people of color and low income. However, I have been heartened by advances in the criminal conviction of sexual assault in the 30 years since I graduated from Princeton, particularly in cases where victim and perpetrator know each other. First-time privileged offenders are more likely to receive sentences that do not create tell-tale gaps in their transcripts, and this is especially true when issues of consent are unclear or mishandled by the criminal-justice system. The laws about registered sex offenders are not an adequate substitute for banning the box, because they include people guilty of statutory rape or consensual “sexting” of photographs and videos who do not pose a safety threat to fellow students. I am wondering why Princeton decided to “ban the box” on its Graduate School applications and how Princeton ensures that Graduate School applicants who have been convicted of sexual assault are not admitted.
In Response to: Box-Ban Debate