Colleges & Universities Considering Background Checks

Following a 2004 murder of a University of NC student by a fellow student who had a criminal history of violence against women, colleges and universities are seriously looking into criminal background checks on future applicants. Can you blame them?

The victim’s family came to the decision that the University’s admission policies were to blame. Following a lawsuit, North Carolina’s university system began requiring criminal background checks on any student who raises red flags. North Carolina is not alone. Other states are following suit.

The question of student background checks is the subject of controversy. Vice President and Dean of Stetson Law School in Gulfport, Florida, Darby Dickerson, warns criminal background checks is a “legal and policy jigsaw puzzle” of campus safety, vs legal risk and individual rights. “Implementing background checks as part of the admissions process is not a panacea.” There is no easy answer.

Director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, Barmak Nassirian said he does not see background checks as very effective at improving campus safety. He sees this is as a form of “active discrimination.” There is no way to determine if somebody with a criminal record is likely to offend again. Colleges and Universities should serve students who are working to overcome a criminal past and turn their lives around. “Educating people and putting them on the right path is a social responsibility,” he says.

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