Education Week: Universities and Background Screening: Keeping Campus Safe


It’s graduation time at thousands of colleges and universities. Millions of students are ready to embark on their next stage in life – decorating their ceremonial cap.For inspiration, head here. Head. Get it?

These are our favorites.

 One cap in particular, though, grabbed our attention because its school has been the center of attention this week – and not for its roster of outstanding grads.

 A former Quinnipiac University student called in a couple of fake bomb threats in an attempt to cancel graduation ceremonies. She wasn’t graduating and was afraid to tell her family that she hadn’t been taking spring semester classes, even though her mom had given her money to do so.

Although Danielle Shea’s plan failed (she only managed to disrupt the ceremony and police and campus officials handled the resulting protocol properly), her scare tactic nonetheless highlights the need for stringent campus safety.

Stories without violent endings on college campuses, it seems, are rare these days.

Viriginia Tech Shooting Leaves 33 Dead

Lawmakers See Data Deficiency On College Sex Assaults

Two Shootings in Two Days on Same Campus

For a look at the ten most violent acts committed on a college campus, click here.

Do Campuses Really Screen?

As we’ve said before, screening faculty, staff and students at higher education institutions is imperative.

We like to use this analogy: Background checks are like preventive medicine. They won’t stop a cancer from forming, but they will provide you the necessary information to make an informed decision. Plenty of higher education institutions have already implemented screening processed for faculty, staff and, even in some cases, students.

The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers conducted a survey on background checks at colleges in 2010. Sixty-six percent of respondents reported having some sort of method to collect criminal justice information on students. AACRAO also found that private and four-year institutions were more likely than public or two-year institutions to conduct some kind of screening.

So, the answer to our question is yes – college campuses do screen job candidates and students. But should more campuses do it? Yes. Should universities outsource this to a professional screening agency like Active Screening? Yes. Let us explain in three steps.

Not all background checks are created equal. Simply running a name through a generic criminal record database does not suffice. Would you send your son or daughter to a school who did this? Commercialized data like this doesn’t offer any guarantees that the information is correct or without gaps. They are ripe with errors, calling certain criminals ‘cleared’ or labeling innocent people as ‘criminals,’ because there is nobody – literally, no body – double-checking these results. At Active Screening, we have trained professionals who conduct 80% of our criminal record searches in-house. Our verification system ensures accurate results and validates (or doesn’t) candidate-provided information. The other 20% of our criminal record searches are performed by boots-on-the-ground representatives who go beyond industry standards and actually head into courthouses to get the latest documents.

We get compliance. Our Active Screening team knows every law and regulation about hiring and background screening so you don’t have to. The screening industry is rapid fire, changes happen all the time. Can you really expect a human resources department at a higher education institution with thousands, if not millions, of revolving names to keep up with these changes? It would tax even the most robust HR departments. We know EEOC. We know FCRA. We know drug testing. We know adverse action. Outsourcing your background screening needs is not only the smartest thing you can do for your staff and students, it’s also the most time and cost efficient.

We know social media (and its limitations). So everyone has a profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Vimeo, Vine these days, right? That should provide you everything you need to know about a person, right? Wrong. So wrong. In fact, social media profiles may provide you with too much information that can be labeled discriminatory if you’re not careful. Pictures show a person’s gender and race. Profile information may disclose sexual orientation. Comments can present religion. All things, according to EEOC laws, you can’t take into consideration when hiring someone. But how will you prove you didn’t refer to these things if things turn sour? Additionally, it goes almost without saying that social media doesn’t provide all the information you need about candidates or applicants. Pre-screening or recruiting candidates using social media, for the most part, is fine. Treating social media as a thorough and professional background check is not. You’ll be on the hook for negligence if you think it is and something bad happens.

What are your top reasons for running background checks on college campuses? We’d love to hear them. Write your comments below and we’ll get a dialogue going!

This entry was posted in Background Screening, General, Industry Solutions and tagged , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
Active ScreeningBarbara S.
Healthcare Industry

"Here at Holland Hospital, we have been extremely pleased with Active Screening. The report results come back quickly, usually within 24 hours or less.  The staff at Active Screening is easy accessible, knowledgeable and responds to our questions promptly."

Active ScreeningLynn C. Staffing Industry

"Benton Mobley has been and remains my Main point of contact at Active Screening from the beginning; so aside from the comfort of dealing with the same person all these years, there is the most important fact of all;  customer satisfaction. Benton knows the business like the back of his hand; and that is what we need in our fast paced industry of staffing. He is the all-time BEST!  MY employer, Leslie, believes in the notion that great service deserves to be rewarded, so we are here for the duration.We get immediate and personalized attention for any and all concerns we need addressed, and in the staffing industry, this is vital."

Active ScreeningCayce R. Education Industry

"My experience working with Active Screening for our background check process has been very positive.  The reports are almost always completed in a very timely fashion. The information reported appears to be very thorough and accurate.  On the rare occasions that we have questions or problems, the customer service team is always very quick to respond and resolve the issue.  Overall, I am very pleased with the service I receive from Active Screening."

Active ScreeningCraig H. Staffing Industry

"Your customer service is excellent.  The turn around time on background checks is quite fast.  Excellent work.  I haven't had a single problem."

Active ScreeningJackie C. Education Industry

"I wanted to thank you and your staff for being so patient and working so diligently with the Human Resources staff during our recent endeavor to process all of our work study students through background screenings.  We have never had to process so many requests within such a short period of time before, but thanks to you and your staff we made it. Again thank you, we made a good choice in selecting Active Screening."

Active ScreeningLindsey W.  Financial Industry

"I wanted to share my appreciation for your wonderful service...switching background screening companies could have been a stressful task, but your company made the transition seamless. Your website was extremely easy to navigate and the turn around time has been great. I appreciate when information is missing or entered incorrectly during ordering, your company notifies me right away to ensure that my error does not hold the reports results, causing us a delay in hiring an individual...Active Screening has been great to us and I would definitely refer them to others."

Active ScreeningTerry S. Property Management

"Working with Active Screening over the last year and half has been a wonderful experience. They deliver fast and informative results at the best price. Their level of professionalism and the speed they respond to our issues is a benefit that any company can value from. I would highly recommend using Active Screening and their amazing team."

Active ScreeningYulesis D.  Staffing Industry

“Interactive Response Technologies (IRT) has more than 2,000 employees at multiple locations across the United States. IRT has been using Active Screening to conduct criminal background checks since 2006. During this time, Active Screening has consistently returned accurate reports, usually with less than 48 hours turnaround. If there are any problems or inconsistencies with the reports, their staff has called to notify us so that we can attempt to rectify the situation. The staff at Active Screening is always courteous and congenial over the phone. In our opinion, Active Screening is outstanding.”

Active ScreeningAndy N. Software Provider

 "Active Screening has helped us screen our applicants in record time for more than two years.... we are very impressed with the professionalism and speed with which their service team responds to our questions. They understand our needs and are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend them."

Active ScreeningCassie J. Staffing Industry

"The Active Screening team is very informative; they provided a complete consultation on all the services, so I understood what I needed, and saved me hours and hours of my time learning the various services. Their reputation, as being on the cutting edge of employment screening best practices, certainly held true in this instance. The expertise they brought to the table was invaluable to our understanding of our applicants backgrounds. I highly recommend Active Screening to anyone with the task of screening large numbers of applicants and needing reliable customer support."

Active Screening

With over 20 years of law enforcement experience I can attest to the fact that the strongest predictor of future criminal behavior is a person’s criminal history. As the manager of campus safety at my church, I depend on Active Screening to provide a thorough assessment of every criminal history background check we request. For more than 3 years, Active Screening has been faithful to this task with timely, accurate and reliable service.

Active Screening

We have benefited from knowing that we are not exposing the communities we work with or ourselves to unnecessary risk. We continue to have a perfect record in that we have never had a serious incident with a trip participant causing harm or acting inappropriately with any community member or fellow team member- thank goodness!

Active Screening

I would highly recommend any association or organization who conducts background checks to use Active Screening. In addition to my involvement with WAHA, I am an officer in a corporation with over 500 employees who provide treatment, mental health, and correctional services for children and adolescents. Our company is mandated by law to do comprehensive background searches and I can say with the utmost sincerity that Active Screening product rivals that of any government or other private sector process.

Active Screening

We have used Active Screening and their solution VERITY to screen all our coaches and volunteers working with youth. The online system gives us an easy and cost-effective solution to collecting forms and payments from our applicants...and we simply login to view the results of who passed or failed. It's so easy....thank you Active Screening.