In his April 2 email to the Goucher community, President Sanford Ungar revisited vandalism issues on campus. Towards the end of his email, in large, bold letters he clearly stated, “Because other methods of dealing with these issues have not completely succeeded, we are now looking into installing security cameras in certain locations on campus. I have been previously reluctant to take this step, but the persistence of acts of vandalism has caused me to change my mind.”
Now, six months later, senior staff members officially confirm that four security cameras have been installed in unidentified-to-the-public locations on Goucher’s campus.
“What prompted [the installing of cameras] was that vandalism hasn’t gone down; it’s increased,” General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Goucher College, Laurie Burton-Graham, said.
As a result, Ungar approved the risk management committee and public safety to install the cameras this summer.
The project, costing $2,685, is an effort to put a face to the vandalism and eventually stop or slow down the misconduct.
“This is an attempt, or just one way, to try to approach the problem,” Burton-Graham explained. “It’s become a huge problem at Goucher and… a huge cost to students as well as to the college in just repairing all these exit signs that are torn down. So one way to try and get a handle on it is to try to identify who’s doing it and use our disciplinary process.”
Although Burton-Graham and other administrative officials could not confirm or reveal the locations of the cameras, they do guarantee that the cameras are in public areas, not invading a student’s personal privacy.
“They are in public areas; they aren’t in any private areas in the dorms,” Burton-Graham said. “The intent is certainly not to invade privacy; the intent is to try to get a handle on a problem that seems to be out of control at Goucher and it’s not getting better.”
However, some students disagree and believe that there could be better alternatives than setting up a camera to monitor students.
“I am not a big fan,” Dave Woodard ‘13 said. “Honestly, it feels like a little bit too much involvement and watching over. . . . I know the two in Heubeck are pointed right at the exit signs so if someone tears it down, you are going to see it. But I think there are better ways to go about doing that or preventing vandalism.”
Woodard is right in saying that the cameras will aid public safety in finding the vandalizers; however, as Burton-Graham explains, the cameras are not monitored 24/7.
“As I understand it, it’s not a constant feed,” Burton-Graham said. “So it’s not like a monitor somewhere that somebody is [constantly] watching. If there is an incident of vandalism in an area where there is a camera, than Public Safety can go back and look at the video . . . to check and see if there is anything that would be helpful to them in trying to figure out who is responsible.”
Elizabeth Depta ‘15 believes that the cameras not only set a precedent with the students that Public Safety could possibly see them doing acts of vandalism, but also that hopefully the cameras will be a positive course of action to physically stop vandalism.
“I think that it’s about time,” Depta said. “I understand where some people are coming from with this privacy thing. However, I am also really against what’s been going on with the vandalsim and people having to be charged who haven’t even been aware of the things that are going on. And I don’t think it’s reasonable to just expect that nothing can be done because we don’t know who is doing these things. So I think as long as they are in really public places there’s really nothing wrong with it and it could probably benefit a lot of people.”
Although to Burton-Graham’s knowledge no one has been caught on camera yet, she and Public Safety have a similar hope that the cameras will stop the vandalism or at the very least, catch those who are doing it.