Student employees now subject to background checks

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The UT System Board of Regents will now require all student employees at UT to go through a criminal background check, according to an email sent to the Human Resources Department last week.

The departments that hire student employees will cover the cost of background checks, University Operations spokeswoman Cynthia Posey said.

UT has between 7,000 and 10,000 student employees, and the process will cost $4 for every person who has not gone through a criminal background check, she said.

“When you’re talking about a mass number, because we hire a lot of people, it can add up,” Posey said.

The College of Liberal Arts alone has 21 departments and 20 research centers. Each department hires about five student employees, so the cost impact could be huge, but right now the amount of that impact is far from clear, said Gail Davis, director of human resources for the college.

According to the email, students who take a year off between jobs at the University will have to go through a background check again even if they have done so in the past.

“These things are very common,” said Daniel Sharphorn, associate vice chancellor and deputy general counsel for the UT System. “Among different institutions there are some variances.”

UT-Dallas and UT-San Antonio have been conducting employee background checks for faculty and students for many years. Sharphorn said the process is not perfect, but it does help identify criminals and people who could be dangerous to faculty and students.

“The goal is to make students and staff as safe as possible,” Sharphorn said.

After 9/11, students and faculty have become prime targets for criminal background checks, said Jeffery Graves, associate vice president for legal affairs.

“We are very conscious in how we do them,” Graves said.

The Human Resource Department looks for convictions, not arrests, job-relatedness and severity, he said. If a person has a been convicted for driving under the influence, he or she will most likely not get a job that requires driving, Graves said. He added the same person can most likely get a job in a different department.

“If somebody is a sex offender, we certainly don’t want them working in the Child Development Center,” he said.

He added that the cost of the process spreads finely across the departments. Even if one department has 200 employees, it won’t be more than about $1,000, Graves said.

“It’s not going to have a large impact,” he said.

English junior Kendra Loftice, who works at Services for Students with Disabilities, said she doesn’t think conducting employee background checks will create problems.

“It’s just to make sure you don’t have a criminal record where it would affect those who are working around you,” she said.