Our View

“The University of Akron is gaining national attention for being a groundbreaking leader among colleges and universities throughout the country. The attention comes because of the university’s progressive policy regarding background checks. More importantly, the university reserves the right to require DNA testing of its faculty.”

The University of Akron is gaining national attention for being a groundbreaking leader among colleges and universities throughout the country.

The attention comes because of the university’s progressive policy regarding background checks. More importantly, the university reserves the right to require DNA testing of its faculty.

And the attention isn’t praise. National media attention has come after an adjunct professor resigned his position in protest of the policy. Matt Williams worked in the communication department and resigned last week. He is now focusing much of his time on his advocacy group, the New Faculty Majority.

The ACLU has publicly criticized the university as well. The story has raised outcry among adjunct faculty on Akron’s campus as well as throughout the country.

We’re glad that this issue has gained national attention – it’s an obviously controversial policy that has no place in Akron’s books. According to a post on the CBS news blog by Declan McCullagh, the move has made the university the first employer in the nation to take such an extreme and potentially intrusive step.

We want the university to make history, but not this kind of history. Many of us have read George Orwell’s 1984, and references to big brother come far too easily to mind. Why would the university require this kind of information? It’s also interesting that we’re just now hearing about this. The policy was implemented in August but has just recently come to light. The Faculty Senate was never consulted about the policy, and with contract negotiations underway, we’re sure the administration will hear about this from the Akron-AAUP, or faculty union.

Not only that, the requirement comes close to breaking the law. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act was signed May 21, 2008 and prohibits employers from collecting genetic information from applicants. It comes into effect Nov. 21 and will create some problems for university officials, if they wish to keep the policy. We’re hoping they remove the policy before then.

Requiring DNA from faculty or any other employee is an extreme invasion of personal rights. It endangers employees in a variety of ways, including opening them up to problems with health insurance companies searching for pre-existing conditions. In an age of identity theft, it’s not hard to let our minds run wild.

The university hasn’t had much to say about it, however, besides that they feel it is justified. After all, that’s the way technology is going according to Laura Massie, the university’s director of media relations.

If that’s the way it’s going, we’re wondering why it’s going to be against federal law in three weeks.