Southeast Missouri State University

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 be incomplete.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The process does not provide for notice to the applicant that his/her offer is being withdrawn because of the results of the criminal background check, nor the reasons for such withdrawal.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.
  6. 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background check, when that assessment will occur, and when and for what reason(s) an applicant's offer would be withdrawn, which again raises due process concerns.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 being sought.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. The Faculty Senate believes that the policy requiring the conduct of criminal background checks for faculty applicants is unjustified, unnecessary, and inappropriate.


Memorandum

TO:Kenneth Dobbins, President
Southeast Missouri State University

FROM:Paul Lloyd, Chairperson
Faculty Senate

DATE:April 21, 2004

RE:Resolution 04-04

The Faculty Senate approved the attached resolution concerning Criminal Background Checks For New Faculty. We submit it to you for your information. Thank you.

PL:pc

Enclosure

Cc: Jane Stephens

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