Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

Editor’s Note: Balancing the scales

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.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Tyler Hoffman, Executive Editor & Publisher
. Fourth-year medical anthropology student Tyler Hoffman has served as Executive Editor and Publisher of The Observer since April 2012. As Executive Editor, Tyler is responsible for establishing and maintaining the direction of The Observer's print and online platforms. Formerly the News Editor, he specializes in research reporting and digital publishing, which are skills he honed as a health writer and editor with the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. In addition to his work with The Observer, Tyler chairs the University Media Board and co-chairs the Student Executive Council. In April 2013, he was the recipient of CWRU's Outstanding Member of the Media Award. -- Outside of campus media, Tyler is the Division of Information Technology Services' Student Engagement Leader, in which he helps direct efforts to support students in their use of academic technologies at the university. When not working, Tyler, a passionate fan of food and cooking, enjoys kicking back with his friends and  tasting his way through the Cleveland restaurant scene. Reach Tyler at and on Twitter @tylerehoffman. .

Comments (0)

In an effort to promote dialogue and the sharing of ideas, The Observer encourages members of the university community to respectfully voice their comments below. Comments that fail to meet the standards of respect and mutual tolerance will be removed as necessary.
All The Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *