Are the Student Worker Requirements in the California State University System Too Steep?

By Michael Klazema on 11/27/2015

Are the background checks and the other requirements that student workers face in the California State University system too steep for such young workers? Currently, there's a bit of a divide on campus about the subject, with some faculty members and student organizations insisting that the requirements aren't fair for student workers. As of yet, though, no official proposal has been launched with university administrators to change the policy.

Under current employment requirements as stipulated by the California State University system, student workers and volunteers must undergo background checks "if they perform duties that would require the checks if performed by CSU employees." More often than not, that rule means that the university is vetting student employees to the same standards that are required of faculty members and other employees. Graduate assistants who assist with course grading and have access to student information, for instance, are required to pass background checks.In addition to the background checks, students applying for jobs through their university are also required to provide a minimum of three references.

Overall, it seems like CSU is being completely fair with its background check policies. Sure, the California university system might be a bit more vigilant about screening student workers than the average higher education institution. However, the system is also very transparent about their background check policies. The policies are all laid out on the CSU San Bernardino website, which says that the checks are important for "protecting the health, well-being, and safety of employees, students, volunteers, and guests." The same page includes guarantees that CSU will protect the individual privacy of those who are required to face background checks, as well as disclaimers that said background checks will not lead to discrimination.

Still, some students and faculty members are reportedly not pleased with the student worker policies that the California State University system is observing. According to an article in The Daily Aztec, the student newspaper at San Diego State University, one of the 23 campuses in the CSU system, two student organizations recently met to discuss the policies.

The meeting in question combined the College Life Council and the University Council and featured a visit from a professor who opposes running background checks on student workers. The councils discussed the CSU student worker policies, taking issue in particular with the three reference requirements, which might not be "fair" for students who have maybe only held one job previously. The background checks, meanwhile, were deemed problematic for their cost and how long they tend to take.

The College Life Council and the University Council, known together as "Associated Students", could potentially take their concerns about student worker screening policies to the CSU Board of Trustees for additional consideration. However, the fact that the university system is doing its due diligence in running background checks based on job responsibilities and not age or enrollment status makes it unlikely that things will change drastically in the CSU system.


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