Education

Colleges consider barring students for health, safety risks

Posted September 16, 2010

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— North Carolina's community colleges are known for their open enrollment, but safety concerns are driving a new admissions proposal that could limit that.

The plan would allow the state's 58 two-year colleges to deny admission if a potential student poses a health or safety risk. College officials said Thursday that there isn't a specific violent incident or health scare on a campus that prompted the idea, but they said that the colleges are growing rapidly and that security is always a concern.

"We need to protect our students," said Stephen Scott, president of Wake Technical Community College.

In April 2007, a student with mental problems gunned down 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech before killing himself, and Scott said the safety issue still resonates with college administrators.

Close to 70,000 students are expected to take classes at Wake Tech this year, and more than 150 security cameras keep watch over the college's six campuses.

A proposal under consideration by the State Board of Community Colleges could give college officials more leeway to deny admission to students who pose a health or safety threat, such as an applicant with an outstanding restraining order taken out by a student or someone with a dangerous communicable disease.

Wake Tech students Health, safety risks could keep some from enrolling

"This may open the door for the possibility of a health background check," Scott said, adding that colleges need to craft an admissions plan that balances safety with confidentiality.

The American Civil Liberties Union argues that any admissions screening must require detailed reasoning and review.

"The way it's written right now, it seems very broad and vague. There are no real standards included in it, so it seems like it could be used in a very arbitrary way," said Sarah Preston, legislative counsel for the North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "It raises some red flags as far as privacy and how they're getting information."

The University of North Carolina system has more stringent admissions policies than community colleges, but they don't include possible health or safety threats.

Scott Ralls, president of the state Community College System, acknowledged there is sensitivity about limiting open enrollment.

"These are the kind of difficult issues we'll have to deal with, but, again, the motivation for this is making sure that our campuses are secure," Ralls said.

20 Comments

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  • dplowman Sep 20, 1:07 p.m.

    So people need to open up their heath records to just any old person working at the collage. Well that is the icing on the cake.
    If a nutcase wants to kill they will do it anyway so what do you think this is going to stop? If a student disrupts the class kick them out and keep the tuition money. (unless of course they are a minority of some kind.) When are we going to wake-up and see that the folks in charge of the goverment and schools think they are so much better than the rest of the paupers that they need to feel safe in their little jobs. It will not matter if you get some nutcase in school to teach their communistic views just do not tell the teacher that they are not teaching what is in the constitution. The American people need to take this country back and we need to do it real soon or we will not have a country left. HAVE ANY OF YOU PEOPLE LISTENED TO WHAT THE COLLEGES ARE TEACHING LATELY?

  • josephlawrence43 Sep 17, 4:04 p.m.

    Oh--so now they're concerned about people who have some illness--mental or physical--getting admitted to their schools. Mental--such as PMS??? Physical--such as athletes foot??? Why are they not worried about such things as illegal aliens in our schools--anyone of whom could be--lets say, a terrorist?? Seems to me somebody has their head screwed on backward here. Be nice if they considered citizenship as a criteria for admission.

  • RomneyRyan2012 Sep 17, 1:41 p.m.

    Security isn't good at WTCC...

  • MillerB Sep 17, 11:29 a.m.

    The ACLU will have a field day with this

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Sep 17, 11:09 a.m.

    A young woman was murdered at UNCW a few years back. Her life could have been spared had the father of the young man not deliberately lied about his medical records.

    There ARE some people who need to be locked away from the rest of us because they are so mentally unstable. Just because someone has a mental illness doesn't mean they are violent. The violent ones usually express themselves in some way before they act out. The Va Tech gunman did so but was overlooked for his privacy rights.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Sep 17, 11:03 a.m.

    Don't public school jobs require background checks in order to prevent hiring pedofiles or people with crimminal backgrounds? What is the difference between using this method to keep questional people away from children and preventing those with serious crimminal charges or records of violent mental illness from attending a community college? I don't think that is government intrusion, I think it is being responsible.

  • ikeyboy Sep 17, 10:40 a.m.

    ezlikesundaymorning: so the alternative would be to let someone open fire on campus. There are already policies in place, but I can assure you that more needs to be done. Sometimes these people are admitted and cause untold hours of disruption to the students and staff.

  • superman Sep 17, 10:11 a.m.

    It doesnt have to be a student to go on campus and do harm. It can be anyone unless they restrict entrance to the campus and have high brick walls. You really cant stop these people-- you may make them chose another location. Crazy people will find a way.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Sep 17, 9:20 a.m.

    I'm tired of security being the excuse for more and more intrussive gov't. It's not like access to campus is restricted anyway. Just a bunch of scared beuracrats trying to make themselves feel better and create a few more gov't jobs.

  • mrman2a Sep 16, 7:57 p.m.

    When you allow everyone from everywhere to touch and expose their germs on the public this is what you get.
    WORLDWIDE GERM FEST!

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