February 23, 2018 – The Washington House Higher Education Committee recently passed SB 6582, also known as the Fair Chances in Higher Education Bill. The bill would “ban the box” asking about prior criminal convictions on college applications.
The bill passed with one amendment introduced by Rep. Van Werven that would allow colleges to consider the type offense when making an admission decision, but would not allow the question on the initial application. This does not change the intent of the bill, which is to allow everyone to apply without checking the box asking about prior felony convictions.
Committee Chair Drew Hansen closed the discussion by acknowledging the compelling testimony the committee received from justice involved individuals, including Civil Survival members Tarra Simmons, James Jackson and Christopher Beasley. Rep. Hansen emphasized that we do not want the door of higher education closed before giving people a chance to apply. Once an applicant is through the door, it is up to colleges to make their final admissions decisions, including any necessary restrictions, based on each person’s individual circumstances.