Communion Of Dreams

July 2, 2010, 11:12 am
Filed under: Book Conservation, Civil Rights, Government, Privacy, Society

I agreed some weeks back to help out a friend and teach a book-arts class at one of the local colleges for a two week ‘camp’ thing they do to interest high school students in the school. The pay is less than I’d bill for one solid day’s work, but I do enjoy teaching my craft now and again – you get a fresh perspective from young students that is hard to find anywhere else.

Anyway, this morning I had to go over to the campus HR department and fill out all the necessary paperwork to be allowed this honor. Most of it was the usual junk you expect from any employer – wage and tax forms, et cetera. They also had a confidentiality agreement I had to complete – fine, as I doubt I will have any information in my hands at any time that I *could* disclose. And then I came to the form allowing a background check.


I know that it is routine. And I know that it is required, to protect the school from employing some kind of child molester. But had I not already given my friend a commitment to teach the class, I would have just left the paperwork on the desk and walked out.

No, I have nothing in my background which raises the slightest concern. I couldn’t have passed a CCW permit background check if I did. I just really resent having my privacy violated. Because the background check could include financial and credit reports in addition to criminal records and legal judgments – it was worded broadly enough to allow the school to do everything short of giving me a colonoscopy, if they wanted.

It’s funny. My small-“l” libertarianism seldom shows up in my day to day life. But when it comes to my privacy, I really don’t like having to hand over the keys to my life to someone else. I’ve got nothing to hide, but I hate having to let others root around and see that for themselves.

Damn, I hate starting a holiday weekend devoted to liberty with this taste in my mouth. Maybe that’s why it’s bugged me so much.

Jim Downey

4 Comments so far
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Our local school district started this same policy some years ago for their volunteers. I refused to submit to the background check also for all of the aforementioned reasons and have not volunteered one single day since my daughter was in 2nd grade. We have both missed many wonderful opportunities to interact and support her education. However, I would do it again.

Comment by Celeste

Well, good to know it’s not just me, Celeste. I sometimes think that I must be nuts, since so many other people are happy to acquiesce to these intrusions.

Comment by James Downey

[…] she wanted to see a full formal book proposal from us for Her Final Year. Between getting ready for my class (which is going great, thanks), and getting other promised projects done, I didn’t have a […]

Pingback by Got a proposal for you. « Communion Of Dreams

[…] A debacle. July 20, 2010, 6:29 pm Filed under: Art,Book Conservation This is why I like to teach now and again. Because my students invariably school […]

Pingback by A debacle. « Communion Of Dreams

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