Campus / News / Security Camera Debate / May 13, 2010

Cameras up, more by end of May

Following last term’s debate about whether to put security cameras up around campus, which ended with a decision from the administration and students to do so, the project is finally under way.

Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf said that he hopes installing the cameras will be finished by the end of May.

There will be 35 new cameras in total on campus, in addition to some that already existed in places like the Fitness Center.

“What we’ve done is made an attempt to cover the entire perimeter [of campus], which was the goal that we discussed with Student Senate and Safety and Services Committee members,” Schlaf said.

As far as figuring out where to place the cameras, “Our direction was to put the attention towards the perimeter and emergency telephones,” Schlaf said.

While many of the emergency telephones on campus are built into large red poles with lights on the tops, Schlaf said those are not the only emergency telephones on campus.

No cameras have been installed in the residential areas of campus.

On the subject of most cameras being installed around the perimeter of campus, President Roger Taylor said, “We need to be, unfortunately, careful. We need to be vigilant about folks who have no business on campus coming to campus, whether they’re coming from Galesburg or Peoria.”

Taylor also said that the project has cost about $66,000, as opposed to the initial $75,000 estimated for the project.

Each camera installed will be contained within what Schlaf calls a “housing mount,” which will protect the camera itself. In terms of how much has been done, Schlaf said quite a bit.

“In some cases, the housing mounts are up,” Schlaf said. “In some cases, the housing mounts and cameras are starting to be installed.

When asked on Tuesday, Schlaf said that the computer server that functions with the cameras was due to be installed that day.

Besides the cameras, there has also been new lighting installed in “some areas on campus,” Schlaf said. One example of where more lighting has been installed is under the Fitness Center exterior stairs, where the ramp leads down into the lower level of the Fitness Center. A camera has also been installed at this ramp.

Schlaf also said that the student input and recommendations on where to place the cameras has been one of the most helpful aspects of the project.

“It’s one thing for us to place the cameras in locations that we feel are important,” Schlaf said, “but it’s also important for students to tell us where they think they’re important.”

Taylor said that much of the decision about cameras was based on student input. While Schlaf also said that students had been helpful in placement of cameras, chair of the senate Safety and Services Committee junior Gabe Paz said that the committee was left out of discussions about deciding whether or not the cameras would go up.

“We didn’t want the cameras,” Paz said about the Safety and Services Committee. “We wanted more lighting. We thought cameras were more intruding.”

Paz said that once the administration decided to put cameras up, however, Paz wanted to “at least get some input from the students” as to where they wanted them to go.

“We had a discussion in Senate about where to put them, we tabled and we asked students,” Paz said. “We got an overwhelming amount of these general areas of the perimeter, the fitness area, and a lot of people wanted more lights … the administration took our suggestions.”

Paz said that, before the administration told them that the project was going to happen, “They kept us in the complete dark.”

In an article from the January 21, 2010 issue of The Knox Student, Taylor was interviewed and said, “I just jumped the gun and said I hereby authorize $75,000 to spend for video cameras.” He cited the then recent robbery on campus in pushing the project forward. “Ordinarily, we like to have a discussion on campus [before decisions are made],” said Taylor. “It’s sad we have to do it.”

Annie Zak


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