Excerpted from and OCOLLY.com post by Stetson Payne

Oklahoma State University’s new faculty background checks have some professors fearing the checks will disenfranchise qualified applicants and threaten academic freedom.

The OSU Faculty Council approved a plan to require background screening through OSU Human Resources and a third-party vendor at its January meeting.

Jamie Payne, OSU’s vice president for Human Resources, said though all university staff hiring has required background checks, faculty checks are starting because of a 2016 state executive order. Payne said OSU’s Faculty Council approved a revised version of the policy Wednesday that includes an academic check. The administrative team, including OSU President Burns Hargis and other university vice presidents, is considering the policy, Payne said.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed an executive order to Ban the Box, preventing state employers from asking whether an applicant had a felony conviction. Although the state intended it to offer more second chances, Payne said the policy change made OSU reconsider its vetting process.

“That was kind of our way of evaluating whether or not someone had a felony record,” Payne said. “Now that we do not have that question on our application, I think it’s even more important to do some screening for all employees. Not just staff, but faculty included, especially with faculty having so much exposure to students, and really, children.”

Sandefur, who will have a say in whether a hire is denied, said the policy is not meant to discriminate. However, he said it will force those overseeing checks to have common sense when evaluating each candidate.

You can read the full post here.