Ripon College introduces security cameras in residence halls – Ripon Media
Ripon College introduces security cameras in residence halls
At least four security cameras are expected to be installed at Johnson Hall
By Caitlin Marsch
In response to student demands for more campus security, including an online petition created during the spring 2022 semester, four security cameras are being installed at Johnson Hall as part of a pilot project. A camera will be added to each of the three key card entrances, and a camera will be placed at the rear exit near the dumpster.
According to Residence Life director Mark Nicklaus, the cameras will be installed in October.
“These cameras were installed based on student feedback and concerns, and we did a lot of research to evaluate different camera systems,” Nicklaus said. “We tried to find what worked best for the students, as well as the budget.”
Nicklaus explained that these are the only guaranteed security cameras installed at this time, as the goal is to test the capabilities of the cameras before installing them in the other residences, and that Johnson Hall was chosen because of its size.
“Johnson is the second largest room – the only largest is Scott – and we wanted to see if the specs they were showing on the camera would actually do what they said they would. We want to make sure that a single server would be able to support [multiple cameras at a building] Johnson’s height. If he can stand Johnson, he can stand all the other buildings besides Scott,” Nicklaus said.
Nicklaus also said installing cameras in laundry rooms isn’t currently planned, but isn’t entirely off the table.
“Initially, some students wanted cameras in laundry rooms for several reasons: reported thefts from laundry rooms, items being taken out of washing machines and dryers, and overload issues causing the machines to start smoking” , said Nicklaus.
However, cameras placed in laundry rooms are being reconsidered due to student privacy concerns.
“Right now we’re backing off and we’re not going to do that right now. That doesn’t mean we won’t in the future because I want to address some of these concerns,” Nicklaus said. “The purpose of these cameras is to alleviate stress and anxiety, not to cause more of it.
The cameras are tested for capabilities such as night vision, range, and the amount of footage they can record.
“We didn’t want to waste student money and buy eight games if they didn’t work,” Nicklaus said.
Nicklaus explained that the hope is that the cameras will be able to record at least two weeks of footage.
“That way if someone reports an incident, within two weeks we can review it and back it up,” Nicklaus said.
They are also tested due to the complex cabling required by the cameras.
“The challenge is the wiring. We have to go drill and do maintenance to install the wiring,” Nicklaus said. “They need to be on their own secure line, not the campus internet.”
Nicklaus also said that if all goes well with the cameras, the college plans to expand them to the rest of the residence halls and parking lots.
“If I had the choice, we would put them in place by the end of the fall semester or halfway through the spring semester,” Nicklaus said. “Our goal is to make students feel safe on campus, and that’s one of the best steps.”
Nicklaus also clarified that the cameras will not be placed in any private areas and have been tested to ensure that they will not be tilted to be able to see into student bedrooms. He also clarified that the footage will only be viewed in the event of incidents and security issues.
“We’re not going to have one person in front of 50 screens like you see on TV,” Nicklaus said.