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Safety first: students do not need to worry about campus security cameras

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Joe D’Amore ‘16 looks up at a security camera in CushingMartin Hall. Photo by Alex Hudson

Joe D’Amore ‘16 looks up at a security camera in Cushing Martin
Hall. Photo by Alex Hudson

By Liam Dacko

Although Stonehill College officials have made efforts to increase surveillance following the bomb threat made against the community Sept. 24, students should not worry too much about the prying eyes of Big Brother.

Stonehill Police Chief Peter Carnes said the College does not seek to violate anyone’s privacy.

“We don’t put cameras inside residence halls, except in the doorways,” he said. “Obviously, we respect everyone’s privacy in their rooms,” he said.

Carnes said the College’s closed circuit television (CCTV) system has a built-in feature that prevents Campus Police from being able to capture footage of dormitories and other private areas. When a camera is directed toward a residence hall window, a grey box appears over the area being captured, Carnes said.

This censor feature does not apply to cars and other vehicles, however.

“People do not really have an expectation of privacy in a vehicle,” Carnes said. “There’s a plain view doctrine. If I walked by your car in the parking lot and looked inside, you’re not going to be too worked up about that. If I went by your house tonight and looked in your window, you’d say ‘Hey, what are you doing?’.”

In total, there are approximately 50 cameras across campus. All CCTV devices are connected to Campus Police’s dispatch center and are actively filming 24 hours per day. The College’s CCTV system, which Carnes said is “excellent,” was installed by SIEMENS.

“They’ve been a vendor here on campus for seven or eight years. They’ve also done card access systems on our doors,” Carnes said.

Carnes said the installation of cameras across campus occurred in phases.

“The camera project is on phase four,” Carnes said. “It is a work in progress.”

As part of the first phase, SIEMENS installed cameras around the exterior perimeter of campus. During phase two, the company improved surveillance of this area by installing cameras with license plate recognition capabilities.

Carnes said College officials decided to “gravitate in” as part of the third phase.

“Phase three went to various walkways around campus,” Carnes said.

As part of phase four, SIEMENS installed cameras in doorways and residence hall entryways.

After a bomb threat was made against the community Sept. 24, Stonehill officials arranged for the company to install three cameras in the Old Student Union, where the threat was discovered.

The installation of the cameras resulted in the arrest of student Benjamin DiBiase in connection with the case Oct. 13.

A CCTV camera captured footage of DiBiase drawing a swastika in the men’s bathroom on the first floor of the Old Student Union Oct. 9. When confronted about the incident Oct. 13, DiBiase admitted to drawing the swastika and making the threat against the College several weeks prior.

As Colleges continue to grapple with issues related to school safety, more institutions are opting to increase the use of surveillance cameras on campus.

Many people worry the increased use of surveillance cameras will result in the tracking and storage of every move they make in public. At Stonehill, however, many students seem pleased the College is making an effort to increase security.

Sophomore Lindsey Gomes said she feels the use of cameras is necessary after the bomb threat made against Stonehill.

“They are only trying to make its students and faculty stay safe on this campus. The only reason to be against the cameras would be because you’re hiding something. They are only trying to benefit everyone on campus,” she said.

Sophomore Jacob Smith said the increased use of security cameras will help prevent future incidents.

“It provides students with a better feeling of safety on campus,” he said.

Junior Courtney Hayden said she is pleased with the school’s use of security cameras. “I feel like it’s helping everyone feel more at ease considering what happened in the past few weeks,” she said.

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