Tag Archives: Student background check

University of Minnesota to Ban the Box on Student Admission Applications


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Starting in the Fall of 2017, the University of Minnesota will adopt a Ban the Box rule on student admission applications and applicants to the school will no longer have to answer questions about past felony convictions or pending criminal charges, according to a report from the Minnesota Daily. Continue reading

More Colleges and Universities Considering Student Background Checks

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR news Staff Writer

In an effort to help ensure campus safety, higher educational institutions across the country are starting to consider conducting criminal background checks on both applicants and admitted students, according to a recent article on USAToday.com.

As an example, USAToday.com reports that following the murder of a student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2004 by a classmate with a history of violence against women — and the subsequent lawsuit filed by the deceased student’s parents — the North Carolina system began requiring all of its campuses to conduct criminal background checks on students with red flags on their criminal records.

However, a panel discussion at the National Association of College and University Attorneys revealed that the questions of whether to conduct student background checks — and how to — are not resolved and that criminal background checks on applicants and students can be described as a “legal and policy jigsaw puzzle with pieces that include campus safety, legal risk, and individual rights, according to the USAToday report.

The article cites a recent survey by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) in which 66% of educational institutions reported having collected criminal record information from students, with the most common method of getting criminal information being self-disclosure questions on applications. Yet of the 144 institutions that reported collecting criminal justice information from applicants, only ten used criminal background checks, USAToday.com reported.

Higher education institutions in North Carolina are not alone in considering student background checks. Both Maryland and Virginia are considering requiring colleges and universities to conduct background checks on students in the wake of a murder of a female student at the University of Virginia allegedly at the hands of a fellow student.

For more information about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.esrcheck.com.



Former Harvard Student Allegedly Faked Academic Credentials for Scholarships and Financial Aid

Any employers, including prestigious universities, doubting the need for education verifications as a part of effective background screening programs may reconsider after hearing the story of a former Harvard student who allegedly faked academic credentials and references — even transcripts with perfect SAT grades — to win prizes, scholarships, and receive grants and financial aid.

According to a report in The Harvard Crimson and a news release from the Middlesex County (MA) District Attorney, the 23-year-old former Harvard student from Delaware has been indicted on 20 counts of larceny, identity fraud, falsifying an endorsement or approval, and pretending to hold a degree. The accused was allegedly “untruthful” in his applications to Harvard University and for scholarships, and in falsifying transcripts that detailed an impressive academic career at some of the top educational institutions in Massachusetts.

The accused student was exposed after submitting applications and references for the Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships while at Harvard University in 2009, according to the report from the Crimson. A Harvard professor noticed similarities between the student’s work and that of another professor and determined that the application packet was mostly plagiarized.

According to the District Attorney’s news release, after Harvard University launched an internal investigation looking into defendant’s academic file, among the discrepancies and inaccuracies allegedly found during the education verification were that the defendant:

  • Had never attended MIT or Phillips Academy in Andover, as his file claimed.
  • Had SAT scores that were not perfect, as they were conveyed in a College Board document in his file.
  • Had recommendations — allegedly signed by professors at Bowdoin College, which the defendant attended before transferring to Harvard — that were falsely attributed to individuals who said that they did not know the accused and had not written the letters.
  • Allegedly submitted fraudulent applications for the Harvard endorsement for both the United States Rhodes Scholarship and the Fulbright Scholarship.
  • Allegedly submitted an application packet that included fabricated recommendations from Harvard professors and a college transcript detailing perfect grades over three years.
  • Had a resume allegedly listing numerous books he had co-authored, lectures he had given, and courses he had taught, according to authorities.
  • Allegedly stole over $45,000 in grants, scholarship, and financial aid money awarded to him on applications and submissions of documents that were based on lies and reproductions of other people’s work.

According to the news release, this is not the first time the accused had been under scrutiny for offenses in an academic setting, as he was suspended from Bowdoin due to academic dishonesty. In addition, he did not receive a Harvard degree, according to a spokesperson for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

For more information on employment screening and background checks — including educational verifications — visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.esrcheck.com.




Maryland Colleges May Be Required to Conduct Background Checks on Students

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 – allegedly at the hands of a fellow student – 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 – a male lacrosse player the same age as the victim, 22, who was also a lacrosse player – 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 – like the University of Maryland – 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. “If they have a history you can say maybe there’s a pattern…” one person said, “and they won’t do it again.”

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.

For more information on background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.esrcheck.com.

Source: http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0510/736153.html

University To Perform Background Checks On Students Following Tragic Death of Student

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR Staff Writer

According to reports from HuffingtonPost.com and the Washington Post, the University of Virginia will perform background checks on all students at the school following the alleged murder of a 22-year-old female student and lacrosse player, possibly at the hands of her former boyfriend, a 22-year-old fellow student who was also a lacrosse player.

In the wake of the tragic death, the Virginia Governor and University of Virginia President will discuss tougher laws on how to protect students from violence. The Baltimore Sun reported that: Among the topics may be legislation requiring police to report student arrests to the university.

The accused ex-boyfriend  who reportedly had a violent streak  had attacked the victim two months earlier at a party, according to an eyewitness account in the Washington Post, an incident that was never reported to police or school officials.

The suspected killer also had a run-in with the police before his ex-girlfriend’s death, according to the Post, something a routine background check would have uncovered. He was arrested in 2008 after threatening to kill a female police officer and ended up Tasered and handcuffed. He later pleaded guilty to public drunkenness and resisting arrest.

According to theses reports, the University President admitted the school was unaware of the accused killer’s criminal past. He also said that, under school policy, students are required to self-report arrests and convictions, and a regulation in the student code of regulations requires that kind of report. However, the suspect in the beating death failed to report his previous arrest, and no one at the University checked up on him. In addition, the University’s police department never received any notice of that arrest, and the athletic coaches at the school had no knowledge of it or whether it had been disclosed.

The Post reported that the University President that there were gaps in this system and that the school would begin, at a minimum, to screen students  not just athletes with background checks against a state law enforcement database before each semester.

For more information on background checks, please visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.esrcheck.com.