published Friday, April 1st, 2011

A good policy change

Reported intrusions in some apartments at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga have led to a sensible change of policy to enhance students’ safety.

Authorities say a UTC student broke into some apartments in two buildings and placed surveillance equipment in them. The equipment was discovered when the residents recently returned from spring break and found items in their apartments that did not belong to them. The suspect, Bernard Morris, faces aggravated burglary and other charges.

Concern about the case understandably increased when it was learned that since 2006, the suspect had pleaded guilty to felony counts of aggravated burglary and arson, as well as misdemeanor counts of harassment and stalking. Those cases all involved young girls.

But in 2010, Morris was selected as a resident assistant in one of the campus apartment buildings, presumably giving him greater access to residents’ living quarters.

In any situation where a person may have such sensitive access, background checks are called for. Up until the most recent charges were filed against Morris, such checks were not conducted at UTC. The university now plans, however, to conduct background checks on all current and prospective resident assistants in its housing facilities.

That is the right step to take. While no security protocol is absolutely effective, it is wise to head off avoidable dangers.

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