Penn State Employees Notified of New Background Check Policies

Early in July, Penn State announced changes to its background check policy. In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky verdict, their new policy, which combines three previous measures and is more comprehensive and pervasive, went into effect on July 5, and now staff and students are being notified of the changes.

The background check policy, according to, is one of multiple changes the university is making after the Sandusky case. As far as background checks are concerned, the new policy applies to a greater pool of wage earners within the school, including students with payroll jobs, graduate assistants, visiting scholars, and adjunct faculty, along with third-party contractors and volunteers working with children. The new policy, which encompasses not only criminal records checks but also an investigation of child abuse registries, credit history, and driving records, applies to new hires and candidates; however, the university may conduct it on existing employees if it believes it has reason to do so.

Thorough background checks improve hiring prospects, but students accepted by the school, and simply doing work study or an assistantship, additionally need to have their history investigated. This policy, and the amount of paperwork required, irked one doctoral student, who told the press: “What really bothered me about those forms is they’re used to cover all bases for all different kinds of checks they perform. […] The email I got said in no uncertain terms you have to consent to this or you will not receive your pay.”

The new background check policy is additionally in accordance with EEOC guidelines. When previously announcing the changes, Penn State stated all applicants must disclose prior arrests and criminal convictions. Not doing so is cause for termination, or at least removal from the pool of prospective employees.

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