UCF admits 497 students with criminal records in past year
Applying to college is grueling on its own. There are essays, surveys and forms to submit that seem never ending. But imagine how hard applying to the university is when you have a criminal record to report.
Students with criminal records applying to the university are required to report their criminal or conduct history, according to the Office of Student Conduct website. Failure to report these histories can not only result in suspension or expulsion from UCF, but can also lead to the individual being charged by law enforcement with providing false information. Applications that have indicated past criminal history or misconduct are sent to the Office of Student Conduct for review and recommendation.
According to figures from the Office of Student Conduct, from January 2014 to May 2014, UCF received 791 applications that included any sort of crime for review. Such crimes included anything from academic misconduct to felonies and misdemeanors. Of those applications, 497 were cleared for admission, with or without conditions, and 39 did not receive clearance for admission. Additionally, 255 applicants never followed up with Student Conduct after additional information was requested.
The OSC does not track which students with criminal records enroll after being cleared for admission, nor which crimes those students committed.
For those undergoing the review process, OSC officials may speak to parties who have knowledge of the candidate's criminal history or behavior, including probation officers, wardens of detention facilities or others familiar with the candidate, the website states.
OSC officials also may meet with a student before an admission decision is made. During this time, officials may ask about current employment or support systems, as well as violations since the time of application to UCF.
While procedures are in place for review of these applications, UCF spokeswoman Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala said, there is not a standardized way of dealing with individual cases.
"Each case is handled on an individual basis. Felonies receive close scrutiny," Gonzalez Kotala said in an email. "Students must complete any probation and be clear of any activity for at least a year before they will be considered for admission. If admitted, students usually are admitted with conditions."
While each case is handled individually, students who have been expelled from other institutions are not granted admission to UCF, she said.
Students with criminal pasts are admitted under disciplinary probation, excluding them from certain opportunities at UCF. For example, such students are not permitted to occupy a leadership position in any student organization or represent the university in any official capacity, according to the OSC website. Students under disciplinary probation may still attend classes, however.
Registering for classes during disciplinary probation is also impeded, as a hold is placed on a student's account preventing them from registering. Students may temporarily remove this hold by going to the OSC website and filling out the Hold Lift Request form.
Student opinions on these hurdles and even these potential students' admission is mixed.
"[Their admission] depends on the crime, I think. If it's a petty crime, they should have the same [opportunities as everyone else], but if it's something serious like murder, they should have more processes to go through," said Joseph Lopez, a junior mechanical engineering major.
Other students, however, see higher education as an opportunity for previously delinquent students to improve their potential and their current situation, whatever that may be.
"Students with criminal records should be given the same opportunities and people without criminal records should be given, so by extension, the university should treat them equally," said junior philosophy major Elizabeth Westbrook. "There's no way to improve your life station without a decent education."
After the procedural part of the application is completed, along with all forms and consultations, the OSC will forward all of its information regarding a student to the director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
The director of OSRR, currently Dana Juntunen, then makes a recommendation of a clearance for a term, clearance for a term with disciplinary probation or non-clearance, to the admissions offices or the registrar. The former two recommendations represent a "favorable" recommendations, after which the appropriate offices will review the application according to current UCF procedures or governing policies.
Non-clearance represents an "unfavorable" recommendation, after which the appropriate offices may uphold the recommendation and as such, a student is not admitted to the university.
There is not an appeal process for lack of admission on the grounds of past misconduct.