Welcoming New Watchmen

David Williams ’14, Staff Writer

Video recording devices have been a staple of security systems for years. However, on campus there is a distinct lack of security cameras. Very simply, we need more surveillance on this campus. Twice this year, there has been an attempted robbery of the ATM in Graham Hall, and on the second occasion, the Business Office was broken into as well. Security cameras provide useful information for investigating crimes and also serve to prevent crimes from occurring.

From overhearing discussions around campus, it seems that many students are opposed to the installation of cameras on campus. These students are unconvinced of the need to violate the privacy of others by recording their actions. However, the installation of these cameras would go a long way to making campus safer. The college has a liability to protect students from events such as the break in and has an interest in protecting its holdings from theft or damage. After Bortz Library was opened, there was an incident when a student removed several Mac computers from the computing lab simply by walking out with them. Security cameras would have provided a way to know who stole those computers and possibly lead to prosecution for the crime and repossession of the stolen property. Also, video identification may be useful if a missing person report was filed. Many colleges go so far as to document entrances to dorms for resident students in order to relieve some of the legal liability the college faces to protect their students in as many ways as possible.

Further, if there is a disagreement over the fundamental issue of privacy, then this is one of the few cases where the common remark, “If you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t worry” really does apply. The security cameras installed should be limited to public buildings, such as academic and/or administrative buildings, not dorms. Any activity that would be recorded should be mundane at almost all times. Any evidence of a crime would be recorded in a public place where supervision by others is considered an assumption.

As much as the old charm of Hampden-Sydney does come from its link to the past, we need to take a step forward to adapting to a new world. Security cameras have become almost a necessity in maintaining public safety in modern life. We should welcome the attempt to protect our charm through the least intrusive measures possible, which is ultimately video surveillance.

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