University of Akron Revises Background Check Policy

At what point do criminal background check policies become too excessive and invasive? And at what point do they need to be more invasive? At the University of Akron, the Ohio college decided to reduce its criminal background check policy. According to the linked article, the school’s old background check policy consisted of asking employees – not job candidates – for fingerprints and DNA samples. In the revised policy, the DNA samples are done away with, while fingerprinting has been reduced. While the article above doesn’t specify who will be getting fingerprinted from now on, anyone who interacts with students, such as professors and resident hall employees, will, by a logical guess, be fingerprinted.

As we’ve seen in previous posts regarding background checks for positions like childcare and working with the public, more invasive background checks should be needed, as a standard background check may not pick up everything up for criminal history. But when considering university employees, how many of them actually interact with students? In general, the professors do, as well as any staff in a resident hall, including resident advisors, security staff, and dining hall employees. Administrative and clerical employees, who make a significant portion of those employed at a university, interact rarely with students, with the exception of billing scheduling offices. Should administrative staff be put on the same level, in terms of background check requirements, as professors and residential staff?

Logically, no. While all employees should be given some form of a background check, those interacting with students directly should be checked thoroughly. This, of course, means a criminal background check involving fingerprint samples. While this background check ordeal is drawing attention to the University of Akron for being lax in checking employees, perhaps it’s needed, not only for curbing spending costs on background checks but for being excessively invasive, as well.