Resolution 04-04 Criminal Background Checks
Resolution Concerning Criminal Background Checks for New Faculty
WHEREAS a policy of conducting criminal background checks for applicants for certain faculty
positions was enacted by the Administration and Board during 2003 despite the objections
of the Faculty Senate,
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Faculty Senate of Southeast Missouri State University continues to oppose the
existing policy, for the following reasons:
- The Administration refused, despite several requests during 2003, to provide to the
Senate the rationale for instituting such a policy and the name(s) of the individual(s)
or entities that determined that such a policy was necessary. Without a clearly stated
objective for the policy, its need and effectiveness cannot be evaluated.
- The policy as promulgated appears to require only a check of state records, and not
federal or international records, so whatever information is received would obviously
- It is unclear whether the background check is required of all faculty applicants,
including tenure-track, non-tenure-track, non-continuing, adjunct, part-time, etc.
- The form itself is flawed, in that it does not provide a means for an applicant to
report a previous felony conviction and explain it. The form requires only that the
applicant sign, attesting that he/she “[has] never been convicted of a felony in the
state of Missouri or any other state.” Without a means of self-reporting, the form
essentially forces an applicant who may have been convicted of a non-violent felony
years ago (that might have no relationship to his/her faculty responsibilities), to
perjure him/herself. Despite the fact that this was pointed out to the Provost before
the Faculty Senate and before the Chairpersons and Deans Retreat, the Administration
went forward with the flawed form.
- The process does not provide for notice to the applicant that his/her offer is being
withdrawn because of the results of the criminal background check, nor the reasons
for such withdrawal. This denies the applicant the opportunity to explain, rebut,
or correct a faulty report, thus potentially infringing upon his/her due process rights.
- The policy is silent about who (department, college, provost, legal counsel) will
assess the results of a criminal background check, when that assessment will occur,
and when and for what reason(s) an applicant's offer would be withdrawn, which again
raises due process concerns.
- The policy has no mechanism by which the action of the person(s) making a decision
about the result of the criminal background check can be reviewed or appealed.
- A criminal background check policy should make clear that the results of a criminal
background check would only be used to disqualify a candidate if the record discloses
recent criminal activity directly related to the responsibilities of the position
- The Senate believes that if the university is determined to have such a policy, and
indeed is interested in possibly deterring convicted felons from applying, all position
announcements, job applications, etc. should include a notice to potential candidates
that a criminal background check will be done.
- Doing criminal background checks on all University employees would mean that approximately
ninety percent of the members of the University community would continue to have unknown
criminal background status, and therefore the policy would contribute very little
to the increased safety of the community.
- The Faculty Senate remains unconvinced that conducting criminal background checks
in an attempt to minimize certain legal liability will not open the prospect of facing
additional types of legal liability, as discussed in the March/April, 2003 issue of
Academe, a copy of which is appended to this resolution.
- The Faculty Senate believes that the policy requiring the conduct of criminal background
checks for faculty applicants is unjustified, unnecessary, and inappropriate.
TO:Kenneth Dobbins, President
Southeast Missouri State University
FROM:Paul Lloyd, Chairperson
DATE:April 21, 2004
The Faculty Senate approved the attached resolution concerning Criminal Background
Checks For New Faculty. We submit it to you for your information. Thank you.
Cc: Jane Stephens