OPINION: More on The Background Check Policy

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Student Government Weighs in on The Background Check Policy

Felicia Rose, Treasurer of Student Government
Felicia Rose, Treasurer of Student Government

By Felicia Rose

The Cuyahoga Community College Metropolitan Campus Student Government would like to provide an update on their progress evaluating the background check policy as it relates to student employees. During the fall semester, Metro Student Government met with college administration to better understand the rationale behind the background check policy and its implementation.

As a result, a number of changes and improvements are being made to the information provided to work-study applicants. Frequently Asked Questions are being added to the Student Employment Packet and to the college’s employment website. The outdated background check consent form is being removed from the packet. Students’ Tri-C email addresses will be used for communication during the application process. It was confirmed that six months after a failed drug screen applicants are able to reapply for a position, and if hired repeat the drug screen. The college is currently in the process of reaching out to students who applied for positions in the summer and fall but did not complete the background check and/or drug screen. These students will be notified of the availability of work-study to them and be informed about the application process including the background check and drug screen.

Through Ohio Public Records Laws, Metro Student Government along with The Voice were able to obtain copies of the Background Check Matrix used during the summer of 2012 to make hiring decisions as well as the current Background Check Matrix. The matrix utilized in the summer was that of the Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. with an effective date of March 21, 2003 titled Applicant Background Verification Policy. The matrix currently used by the College is titled Background Check Decision Matrix revised October 2012. Both documents can be viewed by clicking here: Background Check Decision Matrix (bates) (2)Coca-Cola Matrix.

Human resources has confirmed that the current decision matrix allows for a case-by-case decision regarding background check results. Any student who are concerned about an issue in their background is encouraged to speak to the hiring manager for the position and/or human resources to discuss mitigating factors.

Metro Student Government members met with Board of Trustees members Dr. Harry Graham and Nadine Feighan in late January. They shared with Trustees Graham and Feighan the work that had been done on the background check policy. The Trustees discussed the unintended consequences of the implementation of a college-wide background check policy and indicated they would follow-up with the other board members and the college administration about the current status of the policy and whether or not the policy should be reviewed. The student government members asked that when the board of trustees are discussing changes to policies that they consider how it will affect the student experience and ask if students have had the opportunity to weigh-in on the change.

As a member of student government, I feel as if much progress has been made since we started working on this issue in September 2012. There have been a number of bumps in the road. One in particular was the initial matrix used by human resources; it was from Coca-Cola. In my opinion, the hiring decisions guided by the use of this matrix are not a good fit for making decisions related to work-study positions in the college environment in particular that of Tri-C. Also, at the beginning of this process, when we reached out to human resources, I do not feel as though they had an understanding of why we as student government even cared about the background check process. Now six months later, I truly feel as though we have made tremendous progress in getting our questions answered and improving the hiring process. As more information is made available to us, we will continue to share it with the student body.

Felicia Rose is treasurer of student government at the Metro Campus.

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