Last week we told you that public colleges and universities in Texas are now authorized to do background checks on students who apply to live in college housing. This was implemented in the name of safety. Taking this a bit further, some higher learning institutions require some form of a background check on students at the admissions level. Policies vary by institution (and if a school opts to do some form of background check, it should develop a policy and apply it consistently), and many colleges use a form of screening by asking questions about criminal pasts on the student application. Yet the question remains – should background checks during admissions be a standard policy at colleges and universities?
There are pros and cons. On the pro side, there is the issue of safety. Requiring students to undergo background checks may help improve campus safety. Schools would be aware of who is on the campus and can take the necessary precautions.
On the con side, colleges and universities don’t want to be accused of profiling or discriminating against students with records. In cases of self-disclosure on applications, how honest are students being when they answer those questions? Obviously, there is a good possibility for deception. And then there is the issue of cost. Does the school pick up a background check cost or require that students pay for it?
The issue of student background checks is multifaceted. Safety is a high priority and should be. But there are other considerations at play that colleges and universities need to consider if and when they decide to check student backgrounds.