A seminary located in New York City has decided to ban the "box seeking criminal histories" on its applications for admission, calling the move "morally right" and "faithful" to its traditions.
"In accepting the White House's Fair Chance in Higher Education Pledge, we are calling on all sister theological institutions across the nation to do the same," Union Theological Seminary said in a statement to media. "Not only is this decision morally right and deeply faithful to our many traditions, it is sound public policy."
The school's president, the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, is also planning to ask that members of the American Academy of Religion, which she also heads, join Union Theological Seminary in taking this same stand.
A screen shot from the Fair Chance Pledge
"Union Theological Seminary commits itself and calls upon its sister theological institutions to create highways of opportunity and welcoming communities for our formerly incarcerated brothers and sisters," the statement continued.
The Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge, which Union Theological Seminary joined alongside other schools across the country, offers opportunities for individuals with a criminal past to more easily secure an education.
"At its heart, America is a nation of second chances," reads the White House website for the pledge. "That’s why the White House is calling on businesses and higher education institutions to invest in their communities and eliminate unnecessary hiring barriers for individuals with criminal records."
By agreeing with the White House pledge, schools — including Columbia University, New York University, Nyack College and a plethora of others — agree to examine whether criminal history questions are needed in the application process, to support professors and students who want to teach in correctional facilities and to encourage other colleges and universities to join the effort as well.
President Barack Obama (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
The White House's Fair Chance Business Pledge, which is similar to the education campaign, is an effort to encourage businesses to give convicted felons a second change at success. Many of the companies and institutions that have signed onto the Fair Chair Business Pledge have also advocated for the removal of the job application question that asks people about their criminal records.
"Too often, that record disqualifies individuals from being a full participant in their communities — even if they’ve already paid their debt to society," read a White House press release back in April. "As a result, millions of Americans have difficulty finding employment."
As TheBlaze previously reported, some of the companies that have signed on are: Koch Industries, American Airlines, Busboys and Poets, the Coca-Cola Company, Facebook, Georgia Pacific, Google, Greyston Bakery and the Hershey Company.
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