Editor’s Note: Balancing the scales

Tyler Hoffman, Executive Editor

Should faculty member candidates undergo the same background checks required of potential staff in order to be hired at Case Western Reserve University? According to the Faculty Senate Committee on Women and now the Undergraduate Student Government, they should.

General Assembly Resolution R. 22-01, derived from the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, which highlighted the absence of background check requirements for potential faculty hires, despite an existing requirement for potential staff members.

While USG does not have the authority to impose the policy, their symbolic vote of support this past Tuesday will undoubtedly weigh on the Faculty Senate, which has yet to approve the policy.

To the best of my recollection, I cannot remember the last time The Observer praised anything USG did. So here’s one for the scrapbooks: good job, USG.

After all, regardless if they teach students or support the functioning of the institution, all university employees should satisfy certain fundamental standards, among which are safety and trustworthiness. Considering students spend upwards of $56,000 to attend CWRU, this commonplace workforce requirement shouldn’t be too much to ask.

This is especially relevant considering competitive institutions such as Duke, Northwestern, Emory, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Vanderbilt require background checks of both their staff and faculty hires.

As The Observer reported last semester, background checks are not a guarantee that crime will not take place on campus. Former contract security guard, Demeterious Cathey, underwent a background check by Ohio Security Services before being stationed in the Wolstein Research Building.

However, the absence of criminal activity on his record did not prevent Cathey from stealing approximately $13,000 worth of computers and other electronic equipment from the building laboratories.

As vice president for campus, Dick Jamieson, said to The Observer in November, “As frustrating as it is to acknowledge, no amount of screening or technology can guarantee against criminal behavior. In the end, personal will and conscience often can be the deciding factor in whether an offense takes place.”

But this isn’t to say we shouldn’t try. Added costs aside, implementing a background check for faculty can only be helpful, not detrimental. Even if a criminal background is discovered, the university retains the right to make an informed decision about the hiring of that individual.

The Observer received several engrossed responses after we published the article about Demeterious Cathey last semester. Some readers were relieved to see the campus newspaper engage in this kind of watchdog journalism, while others felt it to be too harsh.

I respect both sides of the debate; however, I feel that a university of our caliber should hold its campus and the students, staff, and faculty members who occupy it to the highest possible standard. And that means background checks for all employees, whether they have letters after their name or not.