According to a story that reflects a parent’s nightmare – ‘Mom says background checks are needed for college RAs’ – a mother in Tennessee wants a law that would require background checks on college resident assistants (RAs) after a University of Tennessee at (UT) Chattanooga student and former RA at the university was accused of placing surveillance cameras hidden in alarm clocks in the dorm rooms of her daughter and several other students. Police arrested the student – who was previously convicted on charges that included burglary, arson, harassment, and stalking – on more than a dozen charges.
In the story, the mother said her daughter returned from spring break to find a new alarm clock in her room, which campus police later found contained a hidden camera. The mother said the incident may have been prevented if more had been done after the student lost his RA job after entering a female student’s room. She was also surprised to learn UT Chattanooga did not perform background checks on resident assistants. The school changed its policy on background checks following the incident. She also wants to see if a bill could make colleges check criminal histories of students in supervisory positions.
“Even though there are calls for limitations on background checks in general to allow Americans with criminal records to get jobs in the wake of a new study showing more than one in four U.S. adults has a criminal record, when it comes to specific situations where someone has been injured, the trend is to call for even more background checks,” comments Lester Rosen, President of background check provider Employment Screening Resources (ESR) and author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’ “ESR believes that while there should be a job for everyone, not everyone is suitable for every job, and that background checks play a valuable role in helping match suitable individuals with the right job.”
As reported on the ESR News blog, college students with criminal records are not uncommon. A joint investigation by Sports Illustrated (SI) and CBS News that ran criminal background checks on nearly 3,000 players from top ranked college football teams revealed that 7 percent of the players had criminal records, only two of the schools performed background checks, and none of the schools checked juvenile records. College coaches interviewed gave numerous reasons to SI and CBS News for not performing background checks on players that included not knowing juvenile records were available in certain jurisdictions, believing background checks were not needed to uncover a player’s past history, and relying heavily on information provided by the high school coaches of the players.