College students with criminal backgrounds still deserve an education.
College students are trying to get an education, but some have already received their own informal education in the law.
A recent study, conducted by a company that carries out background checks, found that one in 29 college students has a criminal record.
This study brings light to a fact not often brought up by college admissions advisers or high school guidance counselors: A student can make a pretty big mistake and still get into college.
The majority of the crimes were fairly obvious. Sixty percent of the crimes were traffic violations. However, the next three most-occurring crimes in the study were not so innocent. They were, in order from most to least common, disorderly conduct at 9.5 percent, theft at 8.8 percent and drug possession at 7.4 percent. Of course, these percentages only apply to the one in 29 college students who has a criminal record.
Applying this figure to Temple, approximately 1,000 university students could have criminal records. And about 400 of those students – again, applying percentages from the study’s results – could have records for crimes other than traffic violations.
So, there’s a significant percent of students that have somewhat questionable backgrounds. Somewhere along the way of checking SAT scores and counting extracurricular activities, college admissions either overlooked or saw something more in those students who were arrested for stealing, possessing drugs or displaying disorderly conduct.
On one hand, this hardly seems fair. If so many students toe the line, work hard and get involved in order to get into good schools, how do so many students with somewhat serious criminal records get into school – and stay there?
There are two good reasons to allow students with criminal records to enroll for the first time, or to stay enrolled, if they earned their records while in school.
First, colleges and universities would only alienate those potential students further by keeping them from higher education. College tends to change people’s lives, and students will be much more assimilated in college than kept out of it.
Secondly, and probably more importantly, colleges and universities, especially Temple, pride themselves on diversity. And if diversity means more than black and white numbers, it should also include people who may have less than squeaky-clean backgrounds. This is not to say Temple should invite criminals into its numbers, but there can be a lot to learn from people who have made a mistake or two along the way.