Colleges & Background Checks


Background checks may soon be part of the college application process and college life in general in one state.

There’s a bill before the West Virginia legislature that would give West Virginia colleges and universities the power to conduct criminal background checks on both current and prospective students. The proposal before the legislature would allow state schools to conduct background checks. It would also allow students, at their own expense, to request their school perform a background check on another student or potential student.

The bill would require schools to keep the results of the background checks confidential. There would exceptions, such as court order or the permission or the permission of the student who is the subject of the background check.

A school official from West Liberty University says the law would be appropriate in some cases, such as a student being investigated for violating the school’s code of conduct policy or evaluating a potential transfer student who has been expelled from another school. However he says the provision for student-driven background checks could open the system to frivolous request and perhaps harassment by other students. He also says the bill could raise questions cost, process abuse and federal privacy laws.

So what about cost? Any idea how often would such a policy really be used by the state schools? According to a report from the Higher Education Policy Commission, there is no way to estimate the potential cost of the legislation. The money would likely come from student fees that often pay for the operating costs of residence halls.

We know the state schools of higher education would be affected by the bill, but it remains unclear how private colleges and universities would be impacted.

Criminal background checks are just a way of life in our society, especially in the job application process. But should these types of background checks expand to college campuses.