Faculty at Florida University Question Background Check Policy

At the end of November, it was reported that the Florida Gulf Coast University faculty was speaking out against the recent background check policy. According to the Eagle News, the new policy, which went into effect on September 18, requires all current and applying employees to pass a “level 2” background check involving fingerprints. The prints are then run through a national criminal background check system.

Before the changes went into effect, only employees handling funds or working at the school’s Family Resource Center were screened. On November 16, teachers spoke up at the faculty senate meeting, questioning the necessity of the procedure and addressing the actual increase of safety it could bring and wasting taxpayers’ money.

One particular issue was the emphasis on sex crimes and convictions involving minors. Although, per the recent EEOC background check suggestions, criminal convictions cannot affect an employer’s status, this is not the case when the above crimes are considered. Additionally, faculty members mention that this policy won’t fully weed out sex offenders.

Criminal background checks have been considered as part of the college application process in the past, including its potential inclusion on the Common Application. Florida Gulf Coast University faculty also consider this procedure a must for their school. Michael Fauerbach, a professor in the Division of Ecological Studies, stated regarding this issue: “If you are serious about safety, we have to look into the students. Student-student interactions are more common than faculty-student interactions.”

Florida Gulf Coast University is not the only college to revise its background check policy in recent years. After the Sandusky scandal shocked the campus, Penn State made significant revisions to its policy before the fall semester. A greater pool of faculty was screened, as well as child abuse registries, credit history, and driving records examined for many candidates and new hires.

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