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Thursday, May 23, 2024

As students start a new semester, a recent study recommends they take note of their new classmates — one of them might have a criminal record.

A nationwide study by MyBackgroundCheck.com, a private supplier of background checks, found that about one out of every 29 college students has or once had an adult criminal record.

The study looked at 13,859 students in 125 universities across the country.

Driving violations represented the highest percentage of crimes, making up 60 percent of the total, according to a press release.

Other violations, such as theft, drug possession and sexual abuse, each made up less than 10 percent of the crimes, according to the release.

The release stated that the study only included criminal convictions and excluded dismissed charges and juvenile records. It did not distinguish between crimes committed before or after the student started college.

Robert Mather, CEO of MyBackgoundCheck.com, offered advice for students in light of the results of the study.

“This high number is an indicator that educators, roommates and students should be educated about who they are living with and who is in the classroom,” Mather said.

Mather also criticized some universities for not conducting background checks on incoming students.

Pat Herring, the UF director of admissions, said UF does not require a background check for prospective students.

On the UF application, students must answer a conduct question asking if they have been arrested or charged with a crime, Herring said.

If they answer yes, the Department of Admissions sends a referral to the Dean of Students office, which decides future actions on a case-by-case basis, Herring said.

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“We don’t have the authority to investigate a criminal background check, and we don’t do many referrals,” Herring said.

Herring was critical of the study and questioned the results.

“In my experience — that’s 20 years working at UF — that number is circumspect,” Herring said.

Jaclyn Irwin, a UF sophomore, was not surprised by the results of the study.

“You hear all the time about driving violations, even on campus,” Irwin said.

She said she agrees with UF’s policy on background checks and that the decision to perform the check should be based on the type of crime.

But Mather said the levels of concern regarding each crime vary.

“A student could be arrested for jaywalking and most people wouldn’t be concerned, but we encourage people to discuss it.”

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