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Security cameras to be placed in dorm entrances

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Security cameras to be placed in dorm entrances

Simpsonian archived photo

Simpsonian archived photo

Simpsonian archived photo

Simpsonian archived photo

by Belle Ward and Taylor Williams

Residence Life and the Student Government Association have decided to install security cameras in the entrances to residence halls following ongoing conversations after a racially charged note was left on a students door last spring.

Members of SGA chose to create a Security Committee after seeing the need for action on campus.

Three semesters later, SGA and Residence Life have finally come to a decision.

Vice President of Student Development and Planning Heidi Levine said in an email, “In his capacity of Dean of Students/Director of Residence Life Luke Behaunek has worked to identify the highest priority areas to place cameras at residence hall entrances. The funding for this is coming entirely from college operating/capital funds – none of the funding is coming through SGA/student activity fees. At this point we are finalizing the bid/contract piece, with the goal of having work done over the summer.”

The journey to reaching this decision was not as easy or fast as expected.

Earlier this year, after the murders of Mollie Tibbetts from the University of Iowa and Iowa State’s Celia Barquin Arozamena, students were worried to be returning to campus in the fall and started questioning their safety on campus.

Simpson is not immune to situations involving theft, sexual assault and students breaking policies. Security, along with the SGA Security Committee, do their best to ensure students safety.

Sophomore class senator Melanie Gillet has been part of the Security Committee since October.

For Gillet, who has been on SGA since her first year, security is an important topic to discuss.

“Since I’ve been on SGA, the first year I was simply advocating for the administration to put security cameras on campus with no specific location,” Gillet said.

After her first year, Gillet began to advocate for security cameras on campus with a new perspective.

“Moving into my sophomore year I began to get tips from students who were wondering about the project as a whole and were increasingly concerned with the lack of security cameras,” she said.

Aside from advocating for security cameras as an SGA member, this is a personal issue for Gillet.

“Personally, I feel like security on these campuses should be the most important thing that the administration has to deal with, especially in the climate of college life,” Gillet said, “Given my position on campus being a female of color, it’s hard for me to have full trust in the administration.”

Gillet isn’t the only student who felt this way. This year, sophomore Seth Bowman’s vehicle was broken into on campus.

“I looked in my car and everything was spread out,” Bowman said. “Everything from my glove box and back seat was torn up.”

Bowman’s main concern was his social security card. All that went missing was cash, and he didn’t report it because he felt there was little the school would do about it.

He supports the move to install security cameras and hopes the school would consider installing some in campus parking lots.

Residence Life and SGA have went back and forth on the specifics of the security cameras, such as how many would be installed, where they would go, when they will be installed, the budget, and most importantly, who will pay for them.

“We essentially wanted the security cameras to head up the progress along with the locations of the cameras as well as updates and quotes of the expenses of the cameras,” Gillet said.

The cost of the cameras and student privacy were the two main concerns Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Luke Behaunek had.

“The cameras are generally about $1,500 per location to install, although it varies widely by camera type and location,” Behaunek said.

There was confusion as to why the institution did not take action sooner. Head of Security Chris Frerichs said studies have shown that people will change their behavior if they believe they are being watched.  

“Cameras may help in resolving issues and incidents that have occurred and are under investigation,” Frerichs said.

Behaunek agreed with Frerichs.

“Although, I personally do not feel they would be as beneficial as some may assume,” Behaunek explained. “I think they can be a part of a broader picture of campus safety, but they are not going to provide a solution on their own.”

Security is implementing a log-sheet system for students that use security for transportation. Frerichs said it’s for better accountability. The log will track who, when and where students are going.

First-year student Casie Redhage said figuring out who and when people are going into buildings is important to make sure everyone is safe.

“If something does happen, something genuinely can be done about it,” Redhage added.

Like Redhage, Gillet said she believes the addition of more security cameras would allow her and other students to feel safer on campus.

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