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Do you think university professors should have to pass a criminal background check?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on September 29, 2007

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Photo of Kolo Chinonge

“Yeah. For me, it would be important to know if my professor was involved in any type of violent or sexual crime.”

Photo of Clint Wedel

“No. I think they should be hired based on the merits that qualify them for the position and not on the basis of a background check.”

Photo of Stephanie Langley

“Yes, I believe so. It’s a respectable position, and they’re not exactly respectable if they have or are trying to cover up a criminal background.”

Photo of Bob Reinsch

“I think that university professors should undergo the same scrutiny as any other state employee.”


MLG 6 years, 6 months ago

What about the group of people in prison that have completed their degrees while serving their prison sentences? The former Professor that was found to have murdered 3 random people at the age of 17. Should we place students in the classroom and take the chance the convicted professor is now reformed? I say get the background check.


sgtwolverine 6 years, 6 months ago

Hey, if you're going to carry a university professor around, why hide it?


gl0ck0wnr 6 years, 6 months ago

"jayhawkjg (Anonymous) says: I believe it would make students on campus feel safer."

Note: it would make students on campus feel safer... because it is all about perception, not reality. They should be held to the same standards as any other state employee, if there is a standard. Additionally, concealed carry should be encouraged to make campus actually safer.


Crossfire 6 years, 6 months ago

Back ground checks should be mandatory. If the prospective professor has no criminal history then he has had no life, there fore he has no right to teach. Steroids and concealed weapons are ok too.


Das_Ubermime 6 years, 6 months ago

Jonas 2, Das 2. The tradition continues...

Sue, I really need to remember such things when I have house guests...


jonas 6 years, 6 months ago

Dotslines: I was thinking that Ubermime seemed a little off. It's almost as if. . . someone else happened to be on his computer and saw that he was signed in or something. . . .

. . . nah.


sunflower_sue 6 years, 6 months ago

Hi gnome! I've missed you! Good to see you on here!


jayhawkjg 6 years, 6 months ago

I believe it would make students on campus feel safer. There are many job positions you must pass a background check as well as a drug test before hire, so why not.


ms_canada 6 years, 6 months ago

Hey a universtiyu question - I was doing the New York Times crossword yesterday and guess what one of the clues was ---- home of Lawrence University. Professors veted? sure, to some degree, I suppose would be appropriate.


sunflower_sue 6 years, 6 months ago

das, don't ya hate it when you forget to log-off?


geekin_topekan 6 years, 6 months ago

No,kids need to learn from all phases of reality.Not just the one's that are deemed "proper".We have more than enough paranioa and Moral Majority as it is. Criminal back ground checks for faculty?Ha!Next thing you know we'll be doing dorm checks to make sure that the students aren't sleeping together.


DotsLines 6 years, 6 months ago


Good to see you back on the boards - uh, I think. (Meds gettin' to ya' this morning?)

Actually, I'm sure the objection to background checks involves a bit more than a criminal history. Even most jobs today, for instance, include a credit history. While it might be applicable to judging the qualifications of an accounting or finance professor whether he's ever filed for bankruptcy (or served time for embezzlement), it's not so applicable to a professor of fine arts or music. Even with just a criminal background check - was that conviction for disorderly conduct from a drunken barroom brawl following a KU basketball game, or protesting outside an abortion clinic - or outside the Democratic National Convention?

The concern, I'm sure, stems from the potential abuse from using background checks. With the ideal in academia being the unfettered flow of knowledge and ideas, there is a real threat from the potential to pick and choose only professors that share a certain level of accepted behavior and/or a certain political bent.

That being said, I also realize there is a legitimate justificaton for background checks. I suppose one would have to weigh the potential risks and benefits to the school, to academia, and to society as a whole before answering that question.

What would I suggest? Many applications for various jobs or programs include a page with ethnic and other data on them, which is supposed to be separated from the application so that it does not enter into the considerations, but only used only for data analysis. I would think it possible to have an independent agency, completely insulated from those that make the decisions to hire/fire/grant tenure, that could perform the background check and release only the information for which there is a legitimate use in the decision making process.


Das_Ubermime 6 years, 6 months ago

Woohoo, I'm Dasubermime! I gots da doctoral program in some type of buggy type thing! I disagree with da everybodys! bwahahahahahahaha


75x55 6 years, 6 months ago

dittos Godot - had a couple of those...


Godot 6 years, 6 months ago

They should also have to pass a sanity test, and a drug screen.


trinity 6 years, 6 months ago

maybe; i mean, there are some things on a person's criminal history that are very much in the past and not a factor in who/what they are, now. if whomever is doing the screening for employment talked to the individual about their past crime and assessed whether or not there is imminent danger, then i s'pose a criminal history check would be fine.


Fishman 6 years, 6 months ago

You mean they're not now? Sounds crazy not too as anyone else in a state position has to. This isn't to mention that they are teaching young adults that are still very much impressionable. Seems like common sense to me. Nothing to hide, nothing to worry about.


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