Texas colleges & universities initiate dorm background checks

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DENISON, TX -- Colleges and universities across Texas have been given approval by Governor Rick Perry, to dig deeper into student's backgrounds if they want to live on campus.

Campus police at Grayson College say safety is the number one priority, especially for those living on campus. Police say in just a few weeks, students can rest assured that their new roommates and neighbors have all been checked out.

"They live here. They're here 24/7 just like us. So, our primary goal is to make sure that no matter how we do it, we want to make sure they have a safe environment for them to live in," Campus police Chief Andrew Macpherson said.

This fall, students applying to live in Viking Residence Hall will go through a background check. But, Grayson College Police Chief Andrew Macpherson says this isn't a new process for the college.

"We've turned a few away in the past," he said.

He says they've used public background check websites such as publicdata.com, to access background information on potential residents. But...

"Depending on the state it came out of, you know, it really wasn't very much information for us to go on," Macpherson said.

Now, Governor Rick Perry has authorized public colleges and universities in Texas to access the Department of Public Safety's website, for official information.

"I feel that it's sort of a necessity. Because, you need to be warned if there's people around you that you need to care about," incoming freshman Patrick Ieargain said.

"Safety issues. Sometimes we leave at 7 in the winter time and it could be dark and people could be lurking," student Stella Hagelberg said.

Only those applying to live on campus will be subject to the checks. The sate website will show pending charges and convictions, and only a housing administrator or campus police chief will be allowed access to the records.

"If they're assault, drugs, theft, public trust, we usually don't allow those," Macpherson said.

But, there are concerns regarding the new law. The DPS website only shows charges that occurred in Texas. So, crimes committed outside the state will not show up, nor will the records for out of state residents and International students.

"Hopefully this will kind of open the door to allow that eventually at some point in time. And I'm hoping we can get that done soon," Macpherson said.

The new law doesn't require these public universities and colleges to perform the background checks. That is up to each institution to decide..

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