For the past couple of years, not a week goes by without some press release from a university saying that they are going to begin conducting background checks on their employees. Duh! This is a no-brainer, right? What should be particularly galling to students and their parents are the type of ineffective checks many schools ultimately choose to utilize in order to save money.
This rant is getting old, so I am going to shift gears to a recent article titled IU Trustees Look at Background Checks. Apparently, the Indiana University has been conducting background checks many of their employees, however new faculty were not included. Let’s look at this from two angles. First, from the perspective of the student or the parent send their son or daughter to IU: It’s great that they conduct background checks on some employees, but they don’t conduct them on the people that are going to be in closest contact with the student? Where is the logic in this?
From the University’s perspective, not only could an effective check for all employees act as a good exercise in risk management, but think of the other uses just for faculty. A school is judged on the merits of those who they employ to educate their students. Why not check employment and education history as well? A university is subject to the same misrepresentations as any other employer, ranging from discrepancy in dates of employment, salary, position held, degree attained, honor bestowed, awards won, etc. Shouldn’t students and parents demand that the education they are paying for is being administered by properly qualified individuals? It is unclear from this particular article whether IU is at least conducting this type of screening on candidates, but it is something to think about. We know that they are not screening their faculty for criminal history (so far), so the question can certainly be posed.
Moreover, these questions should not be solely directed to IU, but to universities across the country. Many are either not conducting any type of check or employing the use of ineffective screening tools. Hopefully, this tide of releases will continue from schools with continue to flow, and hopefully they’ll make the right decisions about how to check and whom to check.