Under one of the first bills introduced during the 2012 legislation session, West Virginia colleges and universities would gain the power to conduct criminal background checks on both current and prospective students. The proposal would allow state institutions of higher education to perform background checks on any student who resides, or is applying to reside, in on-campus housing. The bill would also allow students- at their own expense- to request their school perform a background check on another student or potential students.
The bill requires schools to keep results confidential except under court order or with the permission of the student who is the subject of the background check.
Executive vice president and general counsel for West Liberty University, John Davis, said the law would be appropriate under some circumstances, such as a student being investigated for violating the school’s code of conduct or evaluating a transfer applicant who has been expelled from another school.
Scott Miller, Bethany College President, said, “The legislation that has been proposed would be another tool to assist certain institutions of higher education in properly screening applicants to further ensure the safety of their campus communities.”