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  • Robin Linares, Staff Writer

Willamette to add additional security cameras near residence halls


Camera outside of Baxter Hall. Graphic by Anushka Srivastav.

Campus Safety and Residence Life and Housing (RLH) departments plan to increase security measures near residential halls through the addition of security cameras at exterior entrances. 


The cameras, which are planned to be installed near entrances with tap card access, are part of a larger plan to update Willamette’s campus security infrastructure to match other universities of similar size. “In comparison to other universities of its size and scope, we are lacking in our cameras and capabilities that way,” said Andrew Fresh, the director of Campus Safety.


According to Fresh, there are currently around 32 cameras in various public spaces throughout campus. Most of these cameras are located in Goudy and Sparks Center, but there is a notable lack of them near residential halls.


Since Fresh took over as Campus Safety director in November 2022, he has made a goal to update security infrastructure as a part of a five-year plan. This plan goes beyond security cameras and extends to updating other security tools like university campus cards — a change that was completed in August of 2023. 


As of now, the initiative to update security camera infrastructure is currently in its exploratory stages, meaning that Campus Safety and RLH departments are working to figure out which entrances should be prioritized. As part of this exploratory phase, Fresh, along with Residence Life and Housing Director Heather Kropf, walked through the various residence hall areas and determined which entrances had the highest priority. Kropf mentioned some areas they considered putting in cameras, which included places near the University Apartments, exterior doors near Kaneko B and C wings, the Kaneko and Matthews parking lots, and areas near Lausanne and Doney.


After this exploratory phase, there will be a proposal that needs to be submitted for leadership to approve before the installation of security cameras can start. While no new security cameras have been installed, Fresh hopes that by the end of the five-year plan the university will “have cameras anywhere there is an electronic access point entering into a residential housing area.”


Kropf noted that all of the new cameras installed will follow Willamette’s Security Camera Policy. Some aspects of this policy include that security cameras shall be limited to public areas, sound will not be recorded and for residential areas in particular, camera positions will be limited to exterior spaces and not situated to view any residence hall rooms. 


Additionally, Fresh explained that the installation of these new cameras does not mean that they will be actively monitored, but rather will provide footage to access on a need-to-know basis in case an incident has occurred. “It isn't like someone is going to be sitting and monitoring cameras and surveillance 24/7. We don't have the bandwidth, nor do we have the desire to do such,” Fresh said. “This is more of making a record to go back to see if there was an incident, who may have been involved. It’s an investigatory measure, is how I would put it.”


Kropf reiterated this point and mentioned how the use of security cameras when working at past institutions helped her when an incident occurred. “At a past institution, we had some issues with fire extinguishers being taken … so [we] pulled card access and camera footage, and I was able to indicate who it was that was engaging in disruptive behavior. Without camera footage it is hard to know what that might be,” Kropf explained. “It helps us tell another story outside of just a card swipe.”


Ultimately, Fresh concluded, this initiative is another measure to increase safety measures for the Willamette student body. “We have a duty to protect our students, especially the residential housing [students], by making sure we’re keeping up with the trends of other universities at the same size.”



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2 Comments


newstipper97301
Mar 10

I'm concerned about the civil liberties implications of this. How do we know what the footage will be used for? Since the university has no faculty senate, there is no chance for anyone but administration to weigh in formally on this step.

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mparsonskf
Feb 27

Great idea for the camera's. I feel safer for my granddaughter now!

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