By Editorial Staff
A concern that many have in our current societal climate is the matter of safety and security. This issue has spanned for decades through various mediums and differing degrees of severity, but at the core of it all remains the need to strike a balance between protecting ourselves while also maintaining our individual, lawful rights to privacy.
The recent addition of security cameras to computer labs 500, 507 and 509, two of which have classes and lectures held in them daily, represents this complex dilemma to a tee.
Though we understand the need to keep the expensive equipment these labs safe, our desire to have an open space to have discussions in our classrooms without being recorded complicates this deeply.
College classrooms ideally represent a medium for all to feel comfortable with sharing their feelings, while maintaining a sense of privacy within the confines of the walls of the room itself.
Thus, we were initially uneasy with the implementation of the cameras, however, upon learning more information about the reasoning behind the policy we are more comfortable with it. They were specifically designed to protect the valuable equipment that is housed in the labs and additionally placed so that any incidents could be reviewed if necessary.
Though it is concerning we were not informed of the cameras prior to their installation, their main goal is one that we can understand as a whole.
A member of our editorial staff also works as a lab aide in the computer lab and can confirm that no audio was recorded throughout the time that the cameras were in the rooms.
Additionally, it seems we may also be accustomed to being recorded in public this day in age. While we surely do not want to be recorded, it is not necessarily something we view as a hinderance on our education and certainly does not limit us from doing things we otherwise would.
It should also be mentioned that the cameras were not installed as a way to listen in on or hinder classroom discussions. While it may be a little unsettling to feel like you are being watched, college classrooms are public places for all intensive purposes, and many public places are under surveillance for security reasons. Being watched for security purposes may seem like a breach of privacy and trust, but it is just part of living in today’s society.
Even without cameras in our classrooms, there is no guarantee that anything said in class would stay between the people in the room. College classrooms are meant to breed discussion, but there is no added pressure added by a security camera to speak your mind or refrain from doing so.
Of course, we all want to be open and honest in lecture discussions, but we do not feel that cameras would necessarily change the behavior of our classmates, especially because the surveillance did not record audio and therefore nothing said in class could ever be revisited.
Though discussion as to whether or not the cameras should be kept is now moot because they have been removed, we cannot say that the new policies are an equal replacement in terms of security.
By scanning into the fifth floor, it feels like we are supposed to feel safer, though the policy does not really protect the expensive equipment in the way that the cameras did.
This poses a problem to which there is no easy solution as protection is never guaranteed, but there are still multiple ways in which we can address this problem in the aftermath of the cameras.
In the past, there were lab aides stationed in every computer lab on the fifth floor of the Gage Building. We recognize that the cost of paying someone to sit in these labs may supersede the financial capabilities of the university at this time, but such a procedure would surely eliminate the need for surveillance cameras whilst still serving what was their ultimate purpose.
If adding lab aides is not possible at this given moment, then another solution to ensuring the protection is enacting a new security measure that requires students to scan in using their ID cards to the computer lab. This would give a record of who goes in and out of the labs, which the new measure of scanning into the doors of the floor does not.
Likewise, the need to scan into the floor itself can be troublesome to students running late or those who forget their ID.
In the end, the cameras may have understandably upset some, but their inherent purpose of protecting our expensive equipment still remains a valid concern. While the cameras are gone, this issue of security at the Gage Building still needs a better solution.