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Big Brother: Penn State Installing 450 Security Cameras on Campus

Penn State is taking a page out of the NSA’s playbook with its new venture; the Board of Trustees has approved the installation of more 450 surveillance cameras in Penn State dorms and other buildings around campus.

The project began this past October, with cameras being set up in “key locations” around the various buildings. Areas like residence hall entrances, main lobbies, and loading docks will all be subject to surveillance. Cameras are going to be live in all of South halls by the end of winter break, and they’ll be going up in Pollock soon after, according to Diane Andrews, the Director of Student Affairs at Penn State.

The good news is that Penn State is avoiding cameras in the living halls and the dormitories themselves, at least for now. Fortunately for the residents, we can continue drinking inconspicuously in our dorm rooms for the time being.

The whole endeavor is going to cost an estimated $1.4 million and is expected to be finished by the end of this coming spring semester.

“The safety of our students is the top priority,” Andrews said. “Privacy in the living quarters is being maintained, and conversations with residents show that they understand that by adding cameras in public areas we are enhancing safety in the place they live.”

The biggest issues that Penn State is trying to curtail are vandalism, shoplifting, and piggybacking, apparently. Since their erection in South Halls, one theft has reportedly been busted. According to Andrews, however, the cameras won’t do the job all on their own. “We still need residents to be responsible for reporting negative or suspicious behaviors in their community to residence hall staff or university police,” she said.

While we may feel the all-seeing eye of these devil machines watching us at all times, there’s no need to worry, according to Joel Weidner, the Director of Information Technology at Penn State. There won’t be active supervision of the cameras, and the data will only be accessed if a crime is reported.

It really doesn’t matter if you’re a petty thief, a vandal, a student who needs to access dorm buildings around campus, or an honest tuition-paying piggybacker — you are all a target. These cameras are going to change the tenor of security at Penn State. Whether or not these changes are positive, only time will tell.

About the Author

Alex Goncalves

International Politics and Latin American Studies major at Penn State, space explorer, man-child. Formerly a paleontologist-at-heart.


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