State Representative Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, issued the following statement on House Bill 217 today, pending legislation that would prohibit colleges and universities, public or private, from inquiring about or considering an applicant’s criminal history information at any time during the admissions process. The bill also applies to community colleges:
“I am disappointed by the sponsor’s reluctance at the committee hearing to exempt truly violent criminals from the being able to keep their past secret. As it stands, this bill would allow convicted sexual criminals in dorms at NIU; and the university would have no ability to check a background to prevent it. Parents and concerned citizens across Illinois need to speak out and contact their representatives urging them to oppose House Bill 217 before we vote.
“While the concept of giving individuals with past criminal misdeeds the chance to earn a degree without having their record held against them has merit, this legislation fails to make an exception to protect our students from violent sexual predators. This exacerbates our already-struggling public university enrollment challenges. As the father of an 18 year-old preparing to attend college, I am deeply troubled and concerned. We are one horrible, one preventable event away from showing why this bill should be amended to allow universities like NIU to maintain their freedom to ask about criminal history.”
House Bill 217 was approved by the Higher Education Committee in an 11-8 vote last week. It is presently on the House Floor awaiting a final vote. The bill is sponsored by Representative Mary Flowers, D-Chicago.
Representative Keicher serves the 70th District, which includes most of DeKalb County along with portions of western Kane County and eastern Boone County.