Senate questions background checks

By Maggie Sullivan

Members of the Academic Senate raised concerns regarding a new background check policy Monday.

Currently, the University only requires a background check for University positions that are considered “security sensitive,” such as handling money or interacting with controlled substances or minors.

The Board of Trustees recently approved a new policy that would require all employees to go through a background check as part of the appointment process. The new policy is anticipated to go into effect this June and will expand background checks to all faculty, specialized faculty, academic professionals, civil service and academic hourly positions. A third party vendor would complete the background check and return results to the University.

Senators voiced their concerns on confidentiality, the University’s budget cuts and the message it sends to potential University job applicants. Additionally, senators questioned whether an applicant’s conviction history would be grounds to bar employment. Deb Stone, a representative from human resources, insisted it would not.

According to the Board of Trustees, the background checks would be implemented solely to protect the University and its students.

“Background checks don’t prevent someone from doing something horrific,” said Erik McDuffie, a senator from African American and Asian American studies. “I’m concerned this process will target, intimidate, silence or scare people of color from applying for jobs.”

Naomi Makins, senator from the physics department, also voiced her concerns with reliance on a background check.

“The penal system is a complete failure,” she said. “I find all of this unfortunate.”

Roy Campbell, Senate Executive Chair, said he was very pleased the senate was taking this matter seriously.

“We want to come up with a mechanism that doesn’t intimidate people or that’s not unfair to people,” Campbell said. “For us, it’s a matter of considering what steps we might want to take as a senate.”

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