Colleges Consider Background Checks on Applicants
July 2, 2010
WASHINGTON — In the aftermath of the 2004 murder of a student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, by a classmate with a history of violence against women, the deceased student’s family came to see the decision-making of the university’s admissions office as one of the major factors leading to her death.
After a lawsuit, the North Carolina system began requiring all 11 of its campuses to conduct criminal background checks on students whose records raise red flags. As a panel discussion Wednesday at the annual meeting of the National Association of College and University Attorneys here made clear, North Carolina is not alone. At institutions across the country, admissions officers and student affairs administrators are starting to consider conducting criminal background checks on applicants or admitted students in an extra step toward campus safety.
But the questions of whether and how to conduct student background checks are anything but resolved. The panel included a law professor who has studied the use of criminal background checks in admissions, an administrator from UNC-Wilmington who’s been involved in implementing the system’s policy, and a determined opponent of using checks during the admissions process.
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