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Dear Members of the Campus Community,

As many of you may already know, the State University of New York (SUNY) began implementing a policy this year that prohibits asking applicants the question about prior felony convictions on their initial application to a SUNY campus.

SUNY policy now requires that campuses make admissions decisions in the absence of felony knowledge, and charges the campuses to create policies that collect felony information only from students wishing to live in campus housing, study abroad, or who participate in internships or certain clinical and field experiences.

This past summer, President Stanley appointed several members of the campus community to serve on SUNY Oswego’s “Move the Box” committee; this group has been working to refine our practice and procedures so that we are in full compliance with SUNY’s policy.

How is SUNY Oswego implementing the policy?

After an applicant has been accepted as a student, SUNY Oswego shall inquire if the student has a prior felony conviction only if such student seeks:

  1. Access to campus housing;
  2. Participation in study abroad programs;
  3. Participation in clinical and field experiences; or
  4. Participation in internships.

Residence Life and Housing, the Office of International Education and Programs, and the School of Education’s Field Placement Office have procedures in place that already ask the question. An online survey has been created in Banner, and administered by EXCEL: Experiential Courses and Engaged Learning, for internship or practicum experiences.

The criteria above mean that at some point during their time at Oswego, most students will need to answer the felony question to complete a major, live in an on-campus residence hall or apartment, study abroad or engage in an internship, clinical or field experience. Several academic departments already alert their majors early and often about the possibility that they might not be able to complete graduation requirements or obtain employment in their field of study if they have a felony conviction. This new policy will ensure that students are asked the “felony question” each time they seek participation in the above-referenced activities. 

If a student answers “yes” to the felony question, their name will be forwarded to the Dean of Students Office, and they will be contacted for more information. Checking “yes” will not necessarily disqualify the students from participating in the said activity but it will commence a review conducted by the University Police Chief, Dean of Students, Associate Provost, and, if necessary, the relevant campus housing, study abroad, or internship/clinical/field experience representative to determine if the student is eligible for participation.

Note: The question [Have you ever been convicted of a felony or do you have a pending felony charge?] has been carefully reviewed by the “Move the Box” committee and its exact wording is consistently used by offices leading the above-referenced activities.

How is SUNY Oswego communicating the policy?

The following model language has been added as a policy footnote to various SUNY Oswego web pages -– Admissions Apply Now, Graduate Admissions, International Student Admission and Online Degrees, and thereby meets the notice requirement of the policy:

State University of New York (SUNY) policy prohibits SUNY Oswego admission applications from inquiring into an applicant's prior criminal history. After acceptance, the College shall inquire if the student previously has been convicted of a felony if such individual seeks campus housing or participation in clinical or field experiences, internships or study abroad programs. The information required to be disclosed under SUNY policy regarding such felony convictions shall be reviewed by a standing campus committee consistent with the legal standards articulated in New York State Corrections Law.

Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. Students who have concerns about such matters are advised to contact the Office of the Associate Provost at 315.312.2232 or

SUNY Oswego has also created a web page dedicated to informing prospective and currently enrolled students, faculty, staff and administration of SUNY Oswego’s “Move the Box” policy.


Scott R. Furlong
Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs