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December 12, 2012 10:00 AM Florida Gulf Coast’s Fingerprints

By Daniel Luzer

FingerPrints

Florida Gulf Coast University is now considering adopting a policy of requiring all new hires and current employees to submit fingerprints. The school’s professors object. The FAU faculty senate has passed two resolutions condemning the proposal.

Background checks, of course, are common for employers. It’s also usual for companies to require more involved background checks, including fingerprints to check criminal records, for those who might work with children or other vulnerable people.

While the privacy concerns are perhaps difficult to justify (since background checks are already so widespread), the real trouble with this idea is that it’s simply unnecessary. Perhaps if people are working with children or the disabled some increased level of security might be warranted, but professors teach classes to adults and do research. What are these fingerprints supposed to check for? Research fraud?

The Florida Gulf Coast fingerprinting plan would cost about $55,000 to implement initially, and about $50 per person (the college would cover the cost) after that. The college is also dealing with $3.6 million in state budget cuts this year.

Why does FAU think fingerprinting is necessary? According to an article by Colleen Flaherty in Inside Higher Ed:

The fingerprinting policy reflects Florida Gulf Coast’s commitment “to the safety, security and health of its students, employees and others, as well as safeguarding the interests of the institution,” the current draft reads. The university’s Board of Trustees proposed and unanimously approved the fingerprinting policy earlier this fall as a way to better protect minors on campus from potential criminals, reportedly following the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case that rocked Pennsylvania State University in 2011. “It’s prudent for us to do our due diligence and make sure we don’t hire people like that,” Florida Gulf Coast President Wilson Bradshaw told local media last month.

Note that Jerry Sandusky had no criminal record prior to the time Penn State University hired him as an assistant football coach in 1969. Fingerprinting would not have prevented him from sexually abusing children over the course of several decades. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer