Security Cameras Being Mounted Indoors

Despite University Memo, Security Cameras Being Mounted Indoors

The University’s project to increase the number of cameras has started, and despite earlier University statements that suggested installation would take place on building exteriors, the project now includes cameras inside residential entryways.

After receiving preliminary approval in December 2022 from the university’s Environmental, Safety, and Risk Management Committee (ESRM), Blair and Buyers halls were the first to have cameras installed at their residential entryways. Students and student organizations called on the university to review the policy after the program was approved, most notably Students for Prison Education, Abolition, and Reform (SPEAR).

While a memo sent to the campus community on March 8 stated that additional security cameras would be placed “at all exterior doorways in undergraduate residential college buildings and dorms,” cameras have been installed inside of residence entryways, facing the exterior. A meeting of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and other students included discussion of the memo.

University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss told The Daily Princetonian that “campus architecture does not allow for effective placement of cameras on the exterior of buildings.”

“To record footage of people entering and leaving the building, cameras are being installed inside close to the doors of entry and exit. Each camera goes through multiple levels of review to ensure its field of view is directed at the door as intended,” he said.

Hotchkiss also posted the image below, which is security footage from a camera in Buyers Hall and shows the view of the camera pointed at the door as well as some of the hallway in the background.

Students have expressed their unease and surprise at the modification of the previous policy after noticing security cameras inside.

“I don’t like the cameras in [the] hallway,” said Charlotte Defriez, a resident of Blair Hall and a class of ’26, spoke with the “Prince” about her privacy worries as a result of the installation of cameras in Blair Hall’s entryway 6. Though Defriez “wasn’t opposed” to the idea of cameras outside, their placement inside of hallways makes her “slightly uncomfortable,” and she feels that the University is “crossing a boundary” by placing cameras inside of residential buildings.

A lack of clear communication from the University was a point of concern for Mathey College Residential College Adviser Jessica Scott ’24, who was surprised to see cameras “installed within two days with no advanced warning.” The University did send emails informing residents of the camera work being done in their building, which reaffirmed that cameras would be installed on “exterior doorways.”

Scott told the ‘Prince’ that despite the security camera pointing towards the exit and having a narrow field of vision, she feels “hyper aware of the camera’s presence” every time she enters her building.

Since late 2022, when ideas for more surveillance cameras started to take off, there have been concerns among students.

“There is kind of a lack of trust in that [there is little faith that] the administration would not violate students’ privacy,” At a student feedback event on the subject held by administrators in November, Seth Kahn, a student from the class of 25, said.

In addition, two members of the Undergraduate Student Government expressed concerns during a meeting in April about potential implicit bias, accountability, and profiling when examining video.

The full memo that was referred to in the email that was sent to students who would be impacted by construction was not made publicly available and is still unavailable to some University undergraduate students, including those who were the recipients of the email.

Hotchkiss told the ‘Prince’ that the FAQ which references where cameras can and cannot be placed will be updated to better reflect the “necessary change in the installation process.” This change has not yet been updated on the project’s Facilities page or Public Safety FAQ.

Read More: Do Security Cameras Have Audio?

Source: dailyprincetonian

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