Survey asks students their opinion on installing cameras



Should there be security cameras in the lobbies and stairways of first-year dorms?

Campus Living is considering placing security cameras in first-year dorms on DePauw's campus. Find out what first-years think of the proposal.

Students living in residence halls at DePauw University were sent a survey asking their opinion about the installation of security cameras in their dorms on Sept. 30.

A month ago, a racial slur was written a student on the door of a student of color in Humbert Hall. Since then, the University has taken steps to try to prevent this from happening again. One of the proposed steps is installing security cameras in residence halls.

The proposed cameras aren't the only change. First years were required to go to hall meetings to discuss bias incidents and microaggressions. “NO H8” signs have been plastered around the University, in administrative and academic buildings. The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) was also updated to be more easily accessible.

According to Dean of Students, Myrna Hernandez, the conversation for installing security cameras has been going on for years. Sophomore First-year Resident Assistant, Elise Daniells, said students eight years ago wanted cameras installed, but the negative response from other students, stalled the conversation.

The idea of adding security cameras reenergized  by the incident that occurred last month. “I wouldn’t say that the actual looking into cameras was a response, but the acceleration of the process was a response,” Hernandez said.

The installed cameras would be used for investigative purposes. “It would be around bias incidents, vandalism or theft, and those would be primarily the incidents we would look into,” said Hernandez, who also said they could be used when investigating sexual assault.

Installing cameras is not meant to change the residence hall atmosphere, according to Hernandez, but some students are not on board.

First-year, Ali Pugh, is concerned about her privacy if cameras were to be installed in hallways. “I don’t want some old man sitting behind a camera looking at me if I’m running through the hallway in a towel,” Pugh said.

If cameras were to be installed, they would not be constantly monitored. “Cameras that are installed would be used as a point of reference if there are incidents that occur,” Hernandez said.

First year student, Emma Clune, is in support of installing cameras in residence halls, but not optimistic that it will change student behavior. “People will keep doing what they’re doing whether cameras are installed or not,” Clune said.

Daniells, has been fighting for the installation of cameras. “They will help provide more evidence and there is no other way, really, inside of residence halls to prove what happens in these incidents,” Daniells said. “They happen every year, and if they happen every year, why haven’t cameras been installed yet?”

The survey was only sent out to students who live in residence halls, which excludes those who live in fraternities and sororities. Dean of Student Academic Life, Alan Hill, stated it was because the questions related to those who live in residence halls specifically.

“It’s important for people to know that you can still email Myrna Hernandez and tell her that you want cameras installed,” said Daniells.

Part of the survey included a question of race and ethnicity. Students of color brought this to the Administration’s attention, asking for it to be included. “They questioned whether or not their peers would be as concerned about what is going on, on campus as it concerns race matters,” said Hill.

According to Hernandez, there are also cameras in other buildings on campus. They have been beneficial in using them to investigate other incidents of vandalism and theft on campus. “It will relieve some of the stress in terms of investigating incidents like the one that happened in Humbert,” Clune said.

In a campus-wide email on Oct. 4,  Hernandez wrote that 60 percent of students that had responded to the survey thus far were in favor of cameras being installed in lobbies and lobbies. The survey closed on Oct. 6.

The survey is only meant to gather a wide variety of viewpoints on the topic. Hill wants people to know that it won’t be a decision maker, but rather part of the full assessment.