By Thomas Ahearn, ESR Staff Writer
After the University of Virginia’s president recently announced that the school would perform background checks on students in the wake of the tragic murder of a female student â€“ allegedly at the hands of a fellow student â€“ lawmakers in neighboring Maryland may soon require that universities in that state conduct background checks on students.
According to a report on WJLA ABC 7 News in Arlington, Virginia, the suspect in the University of Virginia killing â€“ a male lacrosse player the same age as the victim, 22, who was also a lacrosse player â€“ was arrested in 2008 after a drunken altercation with a police officer. But the accused killer failed to tell university officials about the arrest.
Presently, according to the WJLA report, many universities â€“ like the University of Maryland â€“ merely ask students if they have a criminal history. If students admit to a crime, school officials say that they are screened further. Otherwise, officials at the university may not know if students have previous convictions.
Upon hearing that Maryland’s state lawmakers may require state universities to conduct background checks on students, some interviewed in the article agreed that background checks for college students are a good idea. â€œIf they have a history you can say maybe there’s a pattern…â€ one person said, â€œand they won’t do it again.â€
WJLA reports officials at Frostburg State University in Glen Burnie, Maryland were considering whether the school should seek criminal information from applicants before a recent off-campus shooting during which one student at the school died and another was injured. However, the alleged shooter in that case did not have a criminal history.
WJLA also reports that it has not heard of any current plans at the University of Maryland to require background checks on students.