UTC to check dorm monitors' backgrounds after former RA's arrest
Story by Gordon Boyd
Eyewitness News Reporter
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- UT-Chattanooga freshman Grant Schryver won't blame anybody but his former roommate, Bernard 'Junior' Morris, for what he found under his dormitory bed after Fall Break; a bag full of women's underwear.
"It freaked me out," he says." Him being an RA (Resident Assistant), he had access to our rooms."
That's why he wasn't surprised when campus police arrested Morris this week, after accusing him of entering the rooms of freshmen girls and planting spy cameras.
But neither he, nor fellow roommate Keath Jackson quite expected to hear that Morris had pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated arson and burglary in 2006; harassment, and stalking in 2007.
"I would think they would have run a background check on him," Jackson says. "The R.A.'s. But apparently they don't. I'm pretty sure they will now."
"There will be background checks," UT-C spokeswoman Cindy Carroll says.
"On current R.A.'s and from this point forward."
Carroll says UT-C hasn't determined exactly what that screening will entail, nor who will pay for it; the school or the student-applicant.
"They will be done through a vendor contracted through our UT system," Carroll says.
Some students already undergo background checks. State law requires them for teachers and medical professionals.
There are only a handful of schools , colleges and university systems, that actually screen students, says Merry Mai Williamson, of Application Researchers.
Williamson is a 'screener for hire'; employers contract her to check current- and would-be employees for criminal records, credit problems, even resume' padding.
"A typical background check for us would run $55 or $60," she says.
Applicants must agree, in writing, to waive their rights to privacy when a background check is a prerequisite for employment.
That's all right by Schryver, who believes a Resident Assistant is a position of trust.
"This (his experience with Morris) won't affect it that much," he says.
"I still have confidence in the University."
Morris remains in the Hamilton County Jail. His preliminary hearing is Monday.
He was not serving as a Resident Assistant at the time of his arrest. UT-C has declined to discuss why he was removed from that position.