The Ohio State University Admits Three Sex Offenders
November 14, 2007
So three of my esteemed colleagues emailed me this story which was published in Ohio State’s student newspaper which reveals that three graduate students were admitted to the school with even though they were registered sex offenders. At the time of admission the school did not ask those that applied to enroll at the university if they had been convicted of a felony “in the past several years” as it now does.
Each person who emailed me the story wondered whether I would fry my own Alma Mater for this lapse in security the way that I have other academic institutions (see previous blog posts)over the past several months. The answer is yes and no.
One of these grad students was a teaching assistant who worked directly with students. Therefore, I’m towing the line on this one. There is no excuse whatsoever for a university not to conduct a background check at least on those that are charged with the education of its students. Furthermore, the school doesn’t claim that the loop hole has been closed by now requiring background checks. It says that it closed the loophole by asking if they had been convicted of a felony. Are you joking me? How many of those with felonies are going to answer honestly? There is no excuse for not requiring a background check.
I don’t know what to make of the remaining grad students who were characterized as “research associates” and didn’t have any supervision over others. I guess that falls into my next opinion or lack thereof about the next topic that arises from this article: Should schools conduct background checks on students? This question is being contemplated in many circles now and could be an emerging trend in the near future.
I’m sure most would expect me to immediately say “yes” to that question since I am in the business of providing background checks. I can see how knowing of particular offenses would cause a university to question a prospective student’s suitibility for enrollment. Let’s look at a couple of things. Most undergrads that enroll are 18 or under. What would a background check reveal? I know juvenile records cannot be used for employment, so I would assume that couldn’t be used for this purpose either. Next, what type of offense would constitute being denied admission and how can it be applied consistently? Until I get a clearer understanding of how a background check would be executed, what sources would be utilized and how decisions are made, I’m staying on the fence.
Next question. Should grad students be treated differently than their undergraduate counterparts? Maybe. Certainly if they are teaching other students. Even if they are not, grad students are typically older than undergraduates and arguably have higher standards for admission. The older part helps as far as providing a bigger picture for potential criminal records.
Since I have copped out a bit on this issue by not taking a side, I would like to invite your opinion or expertise on this subject. What do you think? And by the way, no comments about our heartbreaking loss to the Illini last weekend. We’ll bounce back against the enemy to the North this Saturday.