Dorm Rules: A Background Check?

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If you live in Northeast Ohio, you may remember the scandal that rocked the University of Akron about two years ago.  For those not from around here, I’ll recap.  The Akron Beacon Journal reported back in November of 2006 that the school allowed convicted felons to live on campus.  It was even reported that a 45-year-old ex-con was paired to room with a 19-year-old college freshman.  The University of Akron did not conduct background checks on students applying to live in the dorms.  My sister attends the University of Akron and was attending during the time this story hit the media.  I can’t tell you how glad I am that she was (and still is) a commuter.

According to this article, only about 10% of colleges conduct background checks on students applying for housing on campus.  I see that percentage rising over the next few years.  It has the same look and feel of employment screening.  Like employers, schools want to make sure that the people inhabiting their facilities are not a threat to others around them.

When I read this news story, I definitely saw a similarity between employment screening and screening students who wish to live on a college campus.  For instance, the University of Central Florida states that they only conduct background checks on applicants who admit to criminal activity on their admissions application.  In other words, they rely on their prospective students to be truthful about their past.  This sounds oddly familiar. Just like job applicants, students have a vested interest in not disclosing that information.  If that college (employer) has a really great program (job) they want to get into (land), they will do what it takes.  Who wants to set up road blocks for themselves?  They probably think it’s better to take the chance that their background won’t be checked.

This is precisely the reason employers and schools need to stop these people at the gate.  Why let them get the one-up on you?  It’s always better to know who you are dealing with and avoid a potential bad situation.  When it comes to the question of whether to conduct a background check, the pros always outweigh the cons.  If safety and security is of the utmost priority, what are you waiting for?

Click here to read “More Schools Using Checks”

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  • Amanda

    I’m wondering if they do run a background check, will that hinder the applicant from getting in? I would assume that if they want to enroll in college, an ex-con is trying to better himself. They did their time & (hopefully) learned from their past, right? & then again, some people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, & (depending on what survey you look at) a lot of prisoners are actually innocent. (Remember all those cases in Texas that DNA tests cleared quite a few prisoners decades later?) I don’t know if I would want an ex-con for murder rooming with me, but I don’t think they should be punished if they really reformed & have been through the System’s punishment already….