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.

The installation of cameras at all residential entryways has started, with Blair and Buyers halls being the first, following initial approval in December 2022 from the University’s Environmental, Safety, and Risk Management Committee (ESRM). 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. Students spoke about the memo during various sessions, including one with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG).

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

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

In addition, Hotchkiss posted the image below, which shows security footage from a camera in Buyers Hall and shows the view of the camera pointed at the door while also capturing some of the hallway.

Students have expressed their discomfort and surprise at the change in the previous policy after seeing 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 security cameras started to gain traction, there have been student concerns.

“There is kind of a lack of trust in that [there is little faith that] the administration would not violate students’ privacy,” In November, administrators held a student feedback session on the subject, where Seth Kahn, a student of 25 years old, spoke.

In an April meeting of the Undergraduate Student Government, two members also voiced concerns about implicit bias, accountability, and profiling that might take place when examining footage.

The full memo, which was referred to in the email sent to students who would be impacted by construction, was not made public and is still unavailable to some University undergraduate students, including those to whom it was addressed.

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.” Not yet updated to reflect this change are the Public Safety FAQ and Facilities page on the project.

Read More: How Long Do Security Cameras Keep Footage?

Source: dailyprincetonian

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