Campus Security Cameras Multiply
by Jennifer Kwon
There are approximately sixty cameras dispersed around Carleton’s campus, although the numbers are constantly increasing, with almost ten to twenty added per year according to Security’s needs.
Security and residential offices convene periodically throughout the year to discuss where to put more cameras. The group decides locations based on predicted future and past incidents, such as where property has been stolen or people had been injured. New cameras are installed over winter and summer breaks.
The locations of the surveillance cameras are not specified on the website for safety reasons.
“You cannot publicize information that people might use for purposes that are the opposite of what you intend,” Daniel Bergeson, the director of Auxiliary Services, explained. “By telling people where everything is, there might be people who will use that information.”
Wayne Eisenhuth, the director of Security Services, reaffirmed Bergeson’s statement. “The surveillance system is put up as a protective measure for the students, not to spy on them.”
In line with the campus handbook, which states, “The use of surveillance cameras is limited to uses that do not violate a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy,” surveillance areas do not include private areas such as locker rooms, bathrooms, student rooms, and individual offices.
According to Bergeson, cameras are only installed in public places such as hallways, lobbies, or entrances of the buildings, excluding the Arboretum.
Most students appear to be unaware of the presence or location of cameras on campus. In fact, many students and staff members responded to questions regarding Carleton’s surveillance system with either indifference or astonishment that Carleton needs one.
“I feel like it’s not necessary because Carleton campus is pretty safe already and I doubt that there’s going to be a lot of incidents,” Sandy Lor, a freshman, commented.
Another freshman, Elizabeth Zheng, felt differently. “I would feel safer if there [were] cameras around, just in case something happens. I’ll be fine with it as long as it is not inside the buildings.”
Zheng and others were pleased to hear that cameras are not allowed in private places in accordance with Carleton’s guidelines.
Regardless of students’ opinions, the surveillance system has played a significant role in identifying the agitators in small and large past incidents. Such incidents include: salespeople coming in and out of dormitories, attempting to sell magazine subscriptions, a student letting loose a bunch of crickets in the library late at night, and a group of students stretching yarn across Weitz common to install an unpermitted art exhibit.
Bergeson recalled a series of fire alarms that occurred a few years ago, in which a student triggered the Cassat or James Hall alarms at 1:00 AM every night for almost a month. Security was able to identify the student by spotting the individual’s face on camera.
In 2005, according to Eisenthal, a Northfield resident stalked a female varsity basketball player. The stalker repeatedly put notes in the student’s mailbox with a list of instructions on how to find him at a section of the Gould Library. Her coach reported the incident, and security was able to identify the culprit through camera footage showing him entering and leaving the library.
There have been fewer interesting cases in recent years. The biggest crime of this term, detected by the surveillance system, was the theft three bicycles stolen near Evans and Cowling in the same week.
This article was published at The Carletonian