New volunteer policy raises questions

Background checks now required for certain WSC volunteers

Hanna Conrad, News Editor

A Nebraska State College System (NSCS) policy implemented in April brought about questions and concerns from faculty members at Wayne State College. As the school year continues, clarification is being established.

The new policy, Policy 5025, states that all volunteers must complete a volunteer service agreement form before beginning or continuing their volunteer duties.

“It is natural to have questions with implementations,” Kristin Petersen, general counsel and vice chancellor for employee relations of the NSCS, said. “And we have answered those questions.”

According to an Aug. 14 email email sent to all the presidents, vice presidents, human resource directors and System Office staff, the System Office received many questions, comments and concerns over the summer about the policy.

The email stated that the timing of these comments was not good because they were sent months after the feedback period had expired and weeks after the policy was approved by the Board. Revisions and issues of the policy will be discussed during the Nov. 6-7 meeting.

In the meantime, the NSCS provided guidance that has been based on the issues that were raised.

According to the policy, a volunteer is anyone who chooses to perform services without compensation, and who performs a task at the direction of and on behalf of a College and/or the System Office. A volunteer must be officially accepted before the performance of the task, which is done when the volunteer service agreement form is processed.

All volunteers under this definition must have a criminal background check.

Volunteers that are required to have these a background check are those involved in “Kiddie College,” athletics, and the activity center; those who have access to money, financial information, and campus master keys; those in housing and residence life programs and those who have a bus driving or IT position.

“It is not consistent with the open atmosphere of a college campus and the bringing together of people and viewpoints,” Dr. Mark Leeper, professor of politics, said of his general reaction to the policy.

Questions have come up as to whether this definition of a volunteer includes guest speakers in the classroom.

Since more often than not, guest speakers are not left alone with students, they are not required to have a background check.

Leeper said the policy will not affect his classroom or group activities since he is always present when a guest is visiting.

Students that are involved in service learning activities, radio guests and other student media interviewees, contest judges and tour guides are a few others that are not required to have a background check.