Background checks to be implemented soon

By Adam Kaz

On Nov. 1, the University will adopt the new background check procedures approved by the Board of Trustees in September.

The background checks will be overseen by General Information Services, a nationally accredited company that has provided background screening services since 1966.

The company will be asked to review potential candidates for faculty positions and report back their findings in three to five business days. Candidates will be able to opt out of the background check and will only be asked to submit to a background check if offered a position with the University.

Interim Provost Edward Feser explained how the University will begin implementing the new procedures at Monday’s meeting.

“The Board of Trustees established a policy, and we were directed to implement it, so we have two issues sort of going on here; one is the Board of Trustees policy on background checks, and the second is the campus implementation of that policy,” Feser said.

Feser said no new hires will be made until after Nov. 1. Although they are currently searching for future hires, nobody will be offered a position until next spring, long after the new procedures are put in place.

“When the senate passed its resolution asking for that implementation to be delayed, the Board of Trustees indicated we were going to delay our implementation until Nov. 1, but in the meantime any hire that occurs would have to have a background check.”

Erik McDuffie, associate professor of African-American studies, said he was concerned about the racial aspect of background checks.

“It seems to me to be impossible to disassociate the racism embedded in the criminal justice system to the criminal background checks,” McDuffie said. “I keep hearing about safeguards, but I am not convinced, in fact I am convinced that this policy will discriminate against and scare people of color from applying to jobs at this University.”

The concerns for systemic racism embedded within the new procedures were echoed by Teresa Barnes, associate history professor.

Barnes also went on to point out the difficult turnaround for official background checks the new procedures promise.

“The policy has many inconsistencies, but the most serious in my view is that the Criminal Conviction Review Committee is supposed to complete the review process in three to five business days,” Barnes said. “How can a person who is being reviewed be notified possibly to speak to the accuracy of the report, collect an unspecified number of documents, send them to the committee and/or HR, have them review and make a decision in three to five business days?”

In response, Feser said the faculty would be allowed to have more input in how to implement the new procedures.

“This document is a living document, so the implementation procedures are brought up to be something that we are continually revising as we go forward,” Fesner said. “We need to have an implementation approach in order to execute our hiring, and this is why need to move swiftly.”

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