Lovett College will be the first residential college to have security cameras installed on the premises by the end of the spring semester, according to Lovett President Tessa Fries. The addition is part of the campus wide plan to install security cameras at all of the residential colleges.
Lovett’s student leadership requested the installation to be expedited. As previously reported by the Thresher, the college’s location on the outskirts of Rice and adjacent to Main Street has left it susceptible to non-Rice affiliated persons entering the college. According to Rice University Police Department interim Chief Clemente Rodriguez, Sid Richardson College will be the next college to receive implementation.
In September, the Student Association passed Resolution 2, “Student Feedback on the Policy for implementation of Security Cameras on Campus,” which outlined a security policy with collaborative efforts from Rice University Police Department, the Student Association and residential college representatives.
“Our goal is to conduct a walkthrough with each college before the end of the semester so we can do as much of the installation work over the summer as possible,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the walkthroughs, which are conducted by RUPD, Rice IT department and student representatives, are critical for student feedback on camera placement.
“If we had not done the homework and requested input from students, we might have had some concerns about camera locations and the perception of an intrusion on student privacy,” Rodriguez said. “Because we worked with the students [to select] camera locations, I believe everyone will be satisfied the new cameras are solely for the enhancement of campus safety.”
Fries, a junior, said the walkthrough resulted in a decision for all cameras to face outward to ensure the inside of the commons or college will not be filmed.
“They [will be] situated around most of the entryways, particularly around the commons and the locations coming from South Lot,” Fries said.“They also will capture the bike racks.”
According to former Lovett President Rahul Kothari, RUPD and the IT department will release still images of camera angles after installation so students are aware of exact coverage areas.
“Some students have concerns about being caught doing something against the law or university policies in the background of an incident video, but the simple solution is to not do anything illegal in front of a camera,” Kothari, a senior, said.
This month, RUPD reported arrests of people unaffiliated with Rice who had been caught shooting students with BB guns. Most recently on March 24, RUPD reported a bomb threat at Smith Tower across campus. In light of recent crimes on and around campus, Lovett sophomore Jennifer Kroeger said she believes the cameras’ added safety assurance outweighs potential cons.
“RUPD has insisted [cameras will] not be used to catch students drinking, so there aren’t any downsides to having them, especially since it seems that there have been more issues this year with unwelcome people on campus,” Kroeger said.
Nickolas Walling, a Lovett junior, said he supported the installation only after initial questions about student privacy and the cameras’ purpose were answered.
“As long as they aren’t pointing to anybody’s personal space, I’m OK with it,” Walling said. “I trust RUPD to use [the cameras] how they said they will. Hopefully they will provide a safer campus environment.”
According to Rodriguez, the cameras are essential to helping the police force identify and arrest suspects who may commit crimes in the colleges.
“Although cameras may not be able to prevent crime, they are vital to helping us solve crime,” Rodriguez said. “With the improvement and quality of cameras and other technology, we are seeing more cases solved when these resources are available, which is why we feel adding cameras to the colleges will enhance safety on campus.”