Smile, IUP: You’re on Camera

INDIANA – Bret Matthews, a freshman biology major from Philadelphia, sighed with relief during spring semester 2009 when he learned he had successfully cancelled his on-campus housing contract for 2009-10. His mind had changed about the suites. He was ready to move off campus.

“The cameras don’t really bother me,” DeCasper, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania community assistant at Maple West, said on Nov. 12 outside the suites. “But there does seem to be a lot of them.”

The IUP Office of Housing and Residence Life maintains security cameras at every exterior door of each of the university’s 11 residence halls. This includes the newly constructed suites, where cameras also are positioned in each hallway and in the elevators.

And the number of cameras could grow. In an Oct. 6 Student Government Association meeting, IUP Director of Public Safety Bill Montgomery spoke of a new policy that could increase the number of surveillance cameras on campus. The proposed surveillance-camera policy would require the number of cameras in each department to be reported to Montgomery.

Montgomery provided a rough estimate of the number of cameras on campus – 38. But official campus sources could not provide a precise number.

Under the policy proposed by Montgomery, all departments on campus will be able to request cameras using an online query. Montgomery said the policy change was overdue.

“It’s something we haven’t had on campus, but it’s something we think we do need,” Montgomery said at the Oct. 6 SGA meeting in the Susquehanna Room of the Hadley Union Building.

If the policy is approved as expected in spring 2009, all requests would be sent to the Public Safety Department and be reviewed by three campus administrators.  Montgomery said not all requests will be approved.

“There needs to be a good reason for our cameras to be used,” Montgomery said.  “If we didn’t feel it was necessary, we wouldn’t approve them.”

Following thefts in Sprowls and Cogswell halls, IUP police installed video cameras throughout the buildings in October and November. On Nov. 20, cameras captured a custodian stealing more than $200 from a Sprowls Hall office, according to campus police, who had planted the money.

The 2008 IUP Safety and Security Report states that in 2007, 504 criminal incidents were reported to campus police, a 7 percent increase from the 470 reported in 2006. Of those reported crimes, the numbers of thefts, vandalisms and simple assaults — crimes which may be deterred by the presence of security cameras — all increased.

Students will have no say in whether a camera should or shouldn’t be placed in a particular area. But Montgomery assured those in attendance at the SGA meeting that he would discuss student concerns with his committee.

At least one student welcomed the prospect of more cameras.

“The cameras make my life a little easier,” said DeCasper. “Students feel a little safer. And I don’t have to always be watching the hall.”

Tyler Sgrignoli, a senior majoring in journalism, is from Audubon, Pa.

Alex Retcofsky, a junior majoring in journalism, is from Erie, Pa.


Sidebar: Fast Facts

For more information about this story, please contact:

Bill Montgomery
Director of Public Safety

Sergeant Andrea V. Campbell
Crime Prevention Unit

The Office of Public Safety
University Towers
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, PA 15705
Phone: (724)-357-2141
Fax: (724)-357-2104

IUP Office of Housing and Residence Life
Clark Hall, Room B31
1090 South Dr.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, PA 15705
Phone: (724)-357-2696
Fax: (724)-357-5762


Sidebar: Counting Campus Surveillance Cameras

Although the actual number of campus surveillance cameras is unknown, IUP Director of Public Safety Bill Montgomery provided a rough estimate of the count, as of Nov. 6:

•   Clark Hall: 5

•   University Post Office: 6

•   Public computer labs (Stapleton Library, Leonard Hall, Eberly Lab): 3

•   Eberly College of Business:16

•   Police Department: 8

Total: 38

Tyler Sgrignoli and Alex Retcofsky

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