Whether Colleges and Universities Should Admit Felons

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Richard Gelles

Dean, School of Social Policy and Practice

The decision by the University of Alaska not to admit a convicted killer to its social work program and the ensuing lawsuit raise questions about how colleges and universities, particularly publicly funded ones, balance various responsibilities and obligations.

"There is an inherent conflict between our need to protect our clients versus the values of not oppressing individuals -- including those convicted of a felony such as murder," Dr. Gelles says.

Dr. Gelles is currently in the midst of a research project that exams whether schools of social work should include a question in the application about whether an applicant has been convicted of a felony and what a school should do if the answer is yes.