This year Campus Safety is attempting to make Keene State College an even more secure place to live and study by expanding the use of video surveillance technology.
Over this past summer the college installed cameras in a variety of new locations, including the residence halls of Randall, Pondside I, and Holloway, according to Kent Drake-Deese, the director of Residential Life and Housing.
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In 2006, KSC enacted a security surveillance technology policy, which permitted the use of video and audio recordings, but limited use to “locations that do not violate the reasonable expectation of privacy as defined by law. Such areas include private office spaces, classrooms, restroom facilities and locker rooms, except for legitimate purposes such as investigations of criminal activity.”
Amanda Warman, director of Campus Safety, said that so far this year video surveillance has “been very handy.” It assisted in apprehending the culprit of a bike theft outside Holloway Hall, identified someone who repeatedly punctured another student’s tires, and helped recover a $300 textbook, which was swiped from outside the Science Center and retrieved before the thief could cash in at the book buyback.
So far this year the cameras have also led to resolutions in a number of incidents inside residence halls. According to Jake Allen, a Holloway RA, the cameras allowed them to track down a student who made inappropriate use of shaving cream in one of hallways. “Yeah that was an interesting night,” Allen added.
Although the cameras have successfully nabbed some wrongdoers, not everybody is thrilled with their presence. Freshman Jon Budlong called the cameras encroaching, and said, “If you’re paying about 30 grand to go to Keene State, I think that it’s acceptable to have your own privacy in the place that you live.”
Budlong, a Carle resident, said he first heard about the cameras in a discussion with his RA about a week into fall classes. He said he feels his privacy is being violated mostly because he wasn’t formally notified of their existence.
Drake-Deese said, much to his surprise, he hasn’t had any vocal opponents to the cameras, but admitted, “It’s not like we took out a big ad telling people they were there.”
According to the Surveillance Technology Policy Statement, “The Department of Campus Safety or its designee will post signage in appropriate internal areas to indicate the use of video surveillance. Signage will state: THESE PREMISES MAY BE UNDER VIDEO SURVEILLANCE or similar. Use of video surveillance in exterior areas will not require such posting.”
Holloway Hall incurred over $1,500 in unattributed damages last spring, now has security cameras in a number of locations including entrances, stairwells, and balconies, according to Drake-Deese.
Because of the institution’s inability to catch last year’s perpetrators, every Holloway resident was charged individually for a percentage of the total cost of the building’s damages. According to Allen, the bill totaled about $10 per person.
In Holloway there is a sign on the wall left of the entrance, which features a picture of a security camera and states that the premises may be under video surveillance, as required by the college’s policy. However the sign is one of several on the wall, and takes up a little less space than its neighboring poster for “The Hunger Games” playing in the Night Owl Cafe.
In Randall the required warning is placed on the a wall facing entering students in the main lobby, unaccompanied by other signs or posters of any kind, and is highly contrasted against the red wall it is placed on. However, in the Carle Hall lobby there are no visible warnings of any kind.
Holloway resident Ashley Mundy said she was completely unaware of the cameras, and said she believes most of the other residents are as well.
Freshman Alex Strong said that he knew there was video surveillance taking place in the building, but only because he noticed a camera in the lobby for himself and not because of the signs. Strong said he would have preferred it if RAs informed the students during orientation that they were being recorded, but also said he doesn’t feel that his privacy is really being violated.
Allen said, “I don’t know how people wouldn’t know. There are signs and there are visible cameras. It’s not like they’re hidden.”
Drake-Deese called the cameras a “necessary evil,” and said, “It would be much nicer if we didn’t feel any compelling reason to have it at all… It’s something that’s been available for a long time and I have resisted it, but I just kind of felt like we were in a position where it made sense to do it.”
Drake-Deese said he shied away from the use of cameras in the past because he wanted to avoid a big brother mentality, and having cameras around doesn’t necessarily make the residents feel at home or welcome, which is important to him.
Eric Walker can be contacted at