Public colleges in Texas could soon be able to learn more about their students living on campus.
"I just think it's a good thing because it's going to make it a safer environment for all students that live on campus that go to school on campus," says Chris Craddock, public information officer for Kilgore College.
Craddock says Senator Tommy Williams is a Kilgore College alumni and Williams' brother is the director of student affairs.
Senator Williams says his brother brought the issue of background checks forward and inspired him to write a bill.
"Would you want your son or daughter to live with someone who has pending charges for rape or some very serious charge? Someone ought to be aware of that and be able to evaluate the situation," Williams says.
Colleges can already search a students' criminal history. Senate Bill 146 would allow colleges to look at pending charges on a DPS database.
Craddock says Kilgore college has had several incidents where knowing pending charges against a student in on-campus housing would have been helpful.
"It's just for everything to be more transparent, for us to know exactly who is living on campus and just because someone has a pending charge doesn't mean they're not going to be able to come to school here or live on campus."
Senator Williams says the bill is just another way to increase school safety.
"When we have young people living in such close proximity, I think it's only reasonable that they should be able to conduct a background check that would allow them to know about pending charges."
The bill will not require colleges to do background checks, it just increases the information available to the school police chief and the housing officer.
The criminal history record of a student could not be released or disclosed to anyone in the college or university unless by court order. Officials would be required to destroy the record after the academic semester begins.
The bill was adopted unanimously by the state Senate last Wednesday. The legislation must pass the Texas House before it goes to Gov. Rick Perry to be signed into law.
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