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Checking In or Out: Should Students Undergo Background Checks for College?

June 13, 2011

In the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, many questions were posed concerning student safety, including how did such a calculating menace get into college and fly under the radar for so long. Background checks are one alternate deterrent for such massacres as the one in Virginia.

Such an alternate can provoke the question of “when did society become so dangerous that college students had to be screened to determine if they are too dangerous for higher education?” The answer to that question is April 2007 at Virginia Tech University or maybe April 1999 at Columbine High School or February 2008 at Louisiana Technical College.  The reality is this is the society we now live in.

But are background checks too intrusive for college students? Not really. When applying to rent an apartment (which most college students will probably do at least once in their lifetime) you must surrender to a background check. When applying for certain jobs background checks must be performed. Even some churches require background checks before clearing volunteers to work church events or work with church members, so why prolong the inevitable?

In addition, we have all heard the old adage, “past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.” If a college applicant has a record of past violent encounters then odds are those traits are still alive and well within that student.  Nonetheless, people can and do learn from their mistakes, rehabilitation and change is completely possible but not always probable, thus the reason background checks that deem themselves dubious could possibly have a student hearing in conjunction, an opportunity for the incoming student to “plead their case” so to speak.

Lastly, it is the college/university’s responsibility to protect each of its students as best as they can; that means working diligently to provide students with a safe campus that is conducive to learning. Clearly, a shooting rampage is not the best supplement for learning. Background checks on college students can be viewed many different ways, a Catch-22, either the higher education institution will experience resistance for being too intrusive on the college student’s past and potentially profiling students. On the contrary, the institution will catch flack if a shooting were to occur; there would be an outcry of outrage because the school did not protect their students.

The point is simple, nobody is going to like every decision a school makes but the ultimate goal is to keep students safe.  Background checks on incoming students won’t totally eradicate the potential dangers but can and will prevent some dangerous situations from occurring.  Background checks are a part of life, might as well expose students to them now.



Retweet Your Future: The Risk of Social Media Websites

May 20, 2011

Ok.  Let’s take a moment and think about social media profiles — your Facebook, your Twitter, even the videos you upload on YouTube.  All of these profiles are a reflection of you, good or bad. Go login into your Facebook page, and take a long, hard look at your profile, what does it say about you?  Is it accurate?  Then go look at your Twitter profile, what conclusions would a stranger, potential boss, potential mate, potential professor, your parents or even your grandparents make from your tweets?

If you are on Facebook talking about your drug use, drinking, partying or dating/marital relationship drama, you should understand that does not reflect professionalism or portray you as a person who knows the value of discretion.

As Americans we have a right to freedom of speech; however that does not mean you are excluded from the repercussions that may come from your free speech.  If you hate your job or your boss, vent to a trusted friend or your spouse, do not post it on your public Twitter or Facebook page.

Falcons, the moral of this social media story is simple: somebody is always watching you. Your current state is just that — current. You may currently be a college student or office manager, but five years from now you may be a CEO or seeking a job in your career field and old social media posts may and can very well come back to haunt you. Someday you will be a parent (if you are not already), and you may not want your children to know you liked to fist fight outside of your dorm room. You are somebody’s daughter or son, and you may not want them to know that you can curse like a sailor. Use discretion and common sense when using social media websites. Whatever, you say is in the Internet atmosphere forever and cannot be taken back!

Tips for Social Media Sites:

1.)     Use discretion. Some things should remain private, such as your PRIVATE life.

2.)     Avoid foul language, it is unprofessional and can be received as offensive and immature.

3.)     If you don’t want everybody in your business, don’t put your business out there via Facebook or Twitter.

4.)     Utilize your privacy settings, if you and your professor or boss are Facebook friends, you may want to put them on a limited profile. If you are a student-athlete and you like to tweet about controversial issues, make your profile private, but be aware that your comments could still become public.

For more tips on practicing smart social networking check out the links below:

1)       50 Crucial Rules- Social Media Etiquette

2)       25 Common Facebook Faux Pas

3)       General Tips on Using Social Networking Tools