While not uncommon on college campuses across the nation, cameras at UAM stirred distrust and fear among students. The most recent installation of the equipment occurred in Royer hall in January. In this residence a sense of invasion of privacy surfaced and bred alarm among the girls.
“I don’t like the idea that someone is watching me; it doesn’t make me feel any safer to have cameras,” said junior Amanda Kilcrease, a Royer hall resident.
However, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Peggy Doss provided a positive message circulating around the central purpose of the cameras. She said the security cameras exist as an opportunity to add another level of protection and crime prevention on campus.
“We’re not a high crime area but we have been able to reduce incidences of theft and other problems,” Doss said. “It’s not an effort to try and catch someone; it’s an effort to prevent.”
In fact numerous rules and restrictions already exist on campus and their purpose simultaneously facilitates a safer campus with the cameras. The goal of both supplies protection for not only students but also their property.
“I think they are a good idea because it keeps everybody safe and it keeps them out of trouble because they know the cameras are there,” Royer RA Tera Grubbs, a sophomore, said.
Doss said invasion of private areas such as bathrooms or dorm rooms would be simply impermissible. The design of the equipment only provides it with the ability to remain stationary. The cameras only point toward entry ways and lobbies, places where one would not already expect a degree of privacy.
Furthermore residence life monitors the cameras and usually then only if an incident occurs. According to Housing and Residence Life director Renea McClendon, the cameras record onto video tapes. Then the tapes can be viewed on either a screen or at the desk attendant’s area in the residence halls.
When an incident comes to attention of the proper authorities, someone reviews the tape showing the date and time in question. Then anyone caught committing a wrongful act can be questioned and the tape can provide infallible evidence of guilt.
“The cameras have been a real deterrent to problems; they have helped out by reducing theft and we’ve actually been able to recover stolen property with their help,” Doss said.
In the fall of 2001 unknown parties stole UAM’s new big screen television located in the Gibson University Center. The cost of the television amounted to about $3,000. Unfortunately the television could not be replaced until this semester because of the great expense of the item. If surveillance had been in place at the time of the incident it could have been solved without such a huge loss.
Basically the decision to install security cameras has to come from a vice chancellor’s authorization and the chancellor’s approval. Incidents such as the stolen television came to the attention of the campus safety committee which meets monthly to discuss problem areas on campus. Bankston, the male residence hall located on the edge of campus, had the first cameras installed.
While the committee has no other plans to install cameras in other buildings at this time, further security measures would not be out of the question if another problem area came to light. Currently the cameras remain a solution to the committee and administration as a method of prevention protecting students and property.
© The Voice, 2005
Revised 050311 http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/2_15/cameras.htm