Earlier in the semester we published an article in regards to the implementation of security cameras on campus. After the midterm point, we thought that it may be good to update on what exactly is going on in regards to them.
Basically, not much has changed. The policy stays the same and the usage of them remains as in place.
In order to ensure the student body is aware of the camera policy, we’ll rundown the generalized gameplan of the cameras and the purpose and rationale behind them.
According to Dr. Lena Crain, Associate Dean of Student for Conflict Resolution, the most important use of the cameras is that they will be utilized solely for forensic purposes. This means that when an incident is reported, such as a vandalism, the camera footage will be utilized to try to help in the investigation. Crain says they will not be used under any other circumstance.
Cameras have not been put up in every dorm building, yet. Implementation will coincide with the class of 2021’s tenure at Denison. Each year as they move to different quads, cameras will follow. This is because the students “don’t know any other Denison.”
The camera footage will live within the Campus Safety department. However, camera footage will only be stored for 45 days before being deleted due to a finite amount of memory within the system.
Campus Safety can only utilize these cameras when an investigation is launched. Crain says Campus Safety can take no action in regards to what is found in the footage and can only file a report, which will then go to Conflict Resolution. The exception to this rule is if the footage is of a law that is being broken. In addition to this, most conflicts that occur will be handled in informal means that do not equate to a formal write up or disciplinary action.
One of the biggest concerns for students is privacy. As an unofficial statistic, Crain predicts potentially over 90% of all camera footage will never be seen by anyone. Campus Safety and the Conflict Resolutions Office do not have the time or resources to monitor the cameras 24/7. It would be impossible to do so, which is why they are only utilized forensically. In addition, in order for a report to be filed it must fall within the preponderance of the evidence.
This means that it must be over 50% likely that an individual committed an offense. For example, if the footage shows a student tearing out a water fountain, it is clear the student committed the offense. But is a student is shown walking around with a red solo cup, there is not enough evidence to prove that the student was drinking, and therefore a report would not be carried through. The Campus Safety policy towards alcohol consumption has not changed. The only time a student will be stopped and written up is if they’re noticeably intoxicated and causing a disturbance and/or holding an open container.
If two incidents are occurring simultaneously, for example, camera footage is pulled of a water fountain being torn out of the wall and at the same time two students are engaged in a physical altercation, campus safety could theoretically file a report for both cases. The chances of this happening are incredibly slim, and again would only be reported if the incident is a clear violation of the university’s guidelines.
Another major concern of students is lack of student input on the utilization of cameras on campus. However, Chief Jim O’Neall is creating a Student Advisory Board so that students will have their opinions heard and help streamline the process to better inform and serve the student body.
Cameras were originally put up after data suggested that minority students were the largest group of students who felt unsafe on campus. This is a response that allowed them to feel safer. In addition, Chief O’Neall states that there will be diversity training for Campus Safety to ensure that no bias based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, etc. is used in regards to utilizing camera footage.
Right now, cameras are not planned to be placed in dorm halls. The only cameras inside dorms are filming the entrances and are not filming student rooms.
Ultimately, the security cameras are in place to help keep the student body safe, not hurt them.