Columbia Joins White House in the Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge

June 10, 2016

Today, Columbia University announced that it has joined with the Obama administration and colleges and universities from across the country as a founding partner for the launch of the Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge—a call to action for all institutions of higher education to improve their communities by eliminating barriers for those with a criminal record.

An estimated 70 million Americans—nearly one in three adults—have a criminal record, the White House said in a news release. It is important to remove the barriers that prevent these individuals from gaining access to the education and training that is so critical to career success and that leads to a fulfilling and productive life. Columbia is committed to providing individuals with criminal records, including the formerly incarcerated, a fair chance to seek higher education. The University put forth its pledge as follows:

As an academic institution committed to inclusion and excellence, Columbia University has a particular responsibility to expand access to college education and employment for those who need a second chance and, more broadly, for those from communities bearing the brunt of mass incarceration. Signing the Fair Chance pledge provides an opportunity to reaffirm the scope of Columbia’s commitment in these areas:

  • Columbia is committed to policies and practices that ensure fair, equitable and well-informed consideration of all prospective students and employees, including those with a criminal record.
  • Columbia faculty teach in prisons, jails and on-campus programs that make it possible for students who have returned from prison to continue their education and increase their opportunities for employment.
  • Columbia is committed to supporting the success of the members of its community who have experienced incarceration and to valuing their contributions to the vibrancy of our academic community and to the public discourse on criminal justice reform.
  • Faculty, students and staff across the University carry out research that advances the analysis and understanding of social issues that have contributed to and result from mass incarceration. Many members of our academic community are civically engaged in addressing those issues as well.

For more information, please visit initiative/justice-in- education-initiative/.