Last Thursday, Vice President for Student Life Christopher Card sent out a campus-wide email about a bias incident reported in which a swastika was put on a student’s name sign in Hiett Hall. This email was followed by a campus wide condemnation of the incident and inquiry to determine the possible perpetrators. What differentiated this incident from others was that it took place in a residence hall, only accessible to members of the Lawrence community. Considering anonymous incidents like the one that occurred last week happening in residence halls, it could be a comfort to students to have more cameras in residence halls, especially in hallways, in order to prosecute against and hold accountable people committing acts of hate. Although the recent implementation of security cameras in the College Avenue crosswalks is a step in the right direction, it does bring up the question: “is it enough?”
Last week, the Lawrence community praised the introduction of cameras at the College Avenue crosswalks. The step was taken as a measure against possible physical or verbal assaults against students of Lawrence University. Since the start of this year, 50 cases of verbal assault across have been submitted, and 98 bias incident reports have been filed compared to last year’s 22. Given how much safer students felt after cameras were put up at the College Avenue crosswalks, we believe that it could be beneficial to install cameras in the hallways of residence halls as well.
Implementing security cameras in dorms hallways would help address blatant crimes intending to marginalize people on campus. Yes, arranging cameras in every hallway of every dorm would be costly and it might seem as if student’s privacy would be encroached upon. However, the values of maintaining a safe and inclusive campus are paramount and cameras would be in public spaces like any other security cameras. The sole purpose of said cameras would be to identify perpetrators in investigations as evidence for the targeting of a certain individual or group at Lawrence. This information can then be passed along to the right platform — the Judicial Board, Title IX investigator or police.
Lawrence’s unofficial policy is to give tapes to the appropriate organization if an incident occurs. However, there has not been a case in which the Judicial Board has used tapes as evidence. Similarly, no tapes have been requested by a Title IX investigator in a sexual assault case. Although Lawrence cooperated with these organizations, it is surprising that cameras have not been a factor in any cases. Adding additional cameras could mean more useful information to help the proper authorities.