伊利诺伊大学厄巴纳-香槟分校新员工背景调查政策背后的争议越来越大。根据位于伊利诺伊州中部厄巴纳香槟地区的报纸《新闻公报》 的报道，厄巴纳校区参议院以不信任投票的形式宣布了他们对新的背景调查政策的不满。通过以 55-35 的投票结果，校园参议院批准了一项决议，将伊利诺伊大学的背景调查政策标记为“不公平”。具体而言，参议院认为该政策将对少数族裔产生不成比例的负面影响。
在涉及犯罪背景调查政策时，不成比例或不同影响的问题是一个普遍讨论的问题。由于少数群体的监禁率通常高于白人，因此与对白人的影响相比，犯罪背景调查政策有时会对这些群体产生不成比例的负面影响。EEOC 甚至有一项关于不同影响的政策，指出“雇主询问有关申请人或雇员背景的问题，或要求进行背景调查并不违法。” 但是，“雇主不能进行背景调查或使用所获得的信息，以在受保护的基础上、故意或通过非法的不同影响剥夺任何人的平等就业机会。”
正如News-Gazette 的文章所指出的，教师背景调查在全国顶尖大学中变得越来越普遍。密歇根大学、密歇根州立大学、宾夕法尼亚州立大学、普渡大学和俄亥俄州立大学都是需要 UI 教员拒绝的检查类型的学校的例子。学校的教职员工对新的背景调查政策提出了几个论点，从不同的影响问题到其他大学（例如宾夕法尼亚州立大学的杰里桑达斯基）的一些最引人注目的教师虐待事件是由反正没有犯罪记录的人。
The News-Gazette, a central Illinois-based newspaper based in the Urbana-Champaign area, the Urbana campus Senate announced their displeasure with the new background check policy in the form of a no-confidence vote. Through the vote, which went 55-35, the campus Senate approved a resolution that has labeled the University of Illinois background check policy as "inequitable." Specifically, the Senate believes that the policy would have a disproportionately negative impact on minorities.
The issue of disproportionate or disparate impact is a commonly discussed one when it comes to criminal background check policies. Since minority groups typically have higher incarceration rates than whites, criminal background check policies can sometimes have disproportionately negative impacts on those groups, compared to how they impact Caucasians. The EEOC even has a policy on disparate impact, stating that "it is not illegal for an employer to ask questions about an applicant's or employee's background, or to require a background check." However, "the employer cannot conduct background checks or use the information obtained in a manner that denies equal employment opportunity to anyone on a protected basis, by intent or by unlawful disparate impact."
In the fall, when the University of Illinois Board of Trustees announced plans to run background checks on all prospective professors (as well as some other parts of faculty and staff), their policy sounded like it would do a good job of avoiding disparate impact. Specifically, the university made it clear that the simple presence of a criminal conviction on a person's record would not bar that applicant from hiring consideration. Instead, the school planned to consider each applicant on a case-by-case basis, only disqualifying applicants due to criminal history when their convictions specifically raised doubts about their ability to perform a job. The goal was to make campuses saferâ€”not to be inequitable.
Members of the campus Senate at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus say that the Board of Trustees never consulted them before passing the policy in the fall. That fact could have something to do with the group's opposition to the background check policy, which is certainly pronounced. Indeed, according to the News-Gazette article about the campus Senate's recent vote of no confidence, the group has written off the Board of Trustees' background check efforts as a PR move and has even dismissed the claims that faculty background checks could help make University of Illinois campuses safer.
As the News-Gazette article noted, faculty background checks are becoming increasingly common at top universities throughout the nation. The University of Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue, and Ohio State are all examples of schools that require the types of checks that UI faculty are rejecting. Faculty members at the school have raised several arguments about the new background check policy, from the disparate impact issue to the fact that some of the highest profiles instances of faculty abuse at other universities (such as Jerry Sandusky, at Penn State) were perpetrated by people who didn't have criminal records anyway.
Still, universities owe it to their students and to the families of those students to provide as safe an educational environment as possible. Employers from virtually every sector run background checks on their hires, in part as a means of protecting their customers. It's only fitting for the University of Illinois to do the same for their (very high-paying) customers.