BY JANELLE JANKOWSKI
As stated on McKendree University’s website, Public Safety has the duty to ensure students feel safe on campus: “In order to ensure the safety of members of the McKendree community, the Office of Public Safety is responsible for maintaining a safe and orderly environment on the campus. Officers work to create an environment where people can feel safe to learn, work, live and visit, and they are committed to providing safety and protection to the entire University community.” Yet, without any cameras on campus, how are the Public Safety officers supposed to catch everyone? How safe does each student feel on campus without the security of cameras?
Cameras located in public areas assist college security personnel, who cannot be everywhere at all times. When report of a crime in progress is received, security can use cameras as a way to identify the location of perpetrators in order to know where they should dispatch officers in case of an emergency. If McKendree has cameras located in parking lots and at each entrance of the school, the Public Safety would be better at ensuring the safety of everyone who enters the school premises. I personally would feel a lot safer knowing there were cameras, especially if vandalism is involved; officers would be able to investigate at a faster rate and catch the offender. If vandalism ever concerns your personal belongings, I think you would agree improved security measures are worth investing.
When there are no witnesses, a person may feel helpless in any given vandalism situation. As a student at McKendree, I can personally attest to that feeling of helplessness. I had suffered two incidents of vandalism when someone once tried to tear off my Ski bumper sticker. I also had brought a bicycle when I lived at West only to have someone stomp on my front tire. Though I never found the culprits, I did wish there were cameras on campus so I could avoid having to worry about purchasing a new bumper sticker and fixing my bike tire. Most importantly, if McKendree had security cameras around campus, I would not have to worry as much about my personal space and property being violated.
After such reflection, I spoke with public safety officer, Brian Fix, and he also agreed that there should be cameras on campus. He said “Whenever there are car accidents on campus, the first question that people will ask is if we have cameras. It would help out a lot if we had them.”
Vice President for Administration & Finance, Sally Mayhew, said that we do not have cameras on campus because over the years, McKendree has had very few problems with break-ins or damages to vehicles in the parking lots so some Administration members of McKendree have not considered installation of cameras to be necessary. She does not believe Student Government has ever reported concerns about safety of students in parking lots. There are no plans as of now for cameras on the campus, but they are sensitive to the needs of the students.
Lebanon police officer, Dave Tutterrow, agreed that there should be cameras, but only in certain areas of the campus. Yet another unnamed officer had said he does not think we need cameras, “It all depends on the situation. I don’t know if it would matter. The camera system probably wouldn’t pick up much and would just be a lot of trouble to monitor.” After many attempts, I was unable to reach the chief of Public Safety for comment.
A mixture of students agreed and disagreed regarding whether or not McKendree University should install cameras. The main concern seemed to be parking in the back parking lot. McKendree Senior, Eric Pollman, said, “Yes, I believe [having cameras] would be beneficial in certain cases.” McKendree student, Brendan Effinger, also agreed for cameras. “Yes definitely, if it’s going to help protect students, I’m all for it.” McKendree junior, Sean Harris, said that he had gotten a scrape on his car during his freshman year and it really bothers him. Katie Guttuso, McKendree Senior, said, “Yes and no; I don’t want to be spied on, but for protection, I would love to see some cameras.” McKendree student, Breanna Toelle, does not think they are needed.
Even if cameras could not be placed in every nook and cranny of the school, certain high traffic areas and parking lots could use them because of the volume of people that walk those places every day. It is unrealistic to think that every person who commits a crime would be caught, but cameras would definitely have a greater chance at catching the perpetrators than McKendree’s current situation. Perhaps it would cut down crime rates all together because of this new form of security that is now in place. Hypothetically, crime can happen anywhere and at any time. No place is 100% guaranteed from an increase in criminal activity. Even though it has been reported that this issue has not surfaced in the past, maybe it is an idea for administration to consider as a type of preventative measure so that McKendree can continue to uphold its reputation for having a safe campus and environment for all students at all times.