Cameras installed outside dorms

USF installs security cameras outside residence halls as the result of a university audit.  
ORACLE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

Students who make a habit of holding open doors for strangers walking into residence halls may soon have to cut out the practice, as an audit of Housing and Residential Education has resulted in a plan to install of security cameras around residential areas of campus.

The cameras are currently being installed throughout areas of campus where ID card readers are used to access residence halls following University Audit and Compliance’s (UAC) routine January audit. UAC focuses on advising university departments with ways to be more effective.

In the case of Housing, effectiveness would take the form of a decrease in unauthorized entry to residence halls.

In an email to the Oracle, USF Media and Public Affairs Coordinator Adam Freeman said the exact details of the audit are confidential and exempt from inspection under Florida law due to the sensitive nature of the information technology issues within. 

According to Assistant Vice President of Housing and Residential Education Ana Hernandez, the cameras are an effort to increase safety in residence halls. She said footage from the security cameras will be used by the university to investigate inappropriate uses of access cards and card reading failures.

“We identified where we have card access readers and where we think we’ll have card access readers in the future,” Hernandez said. “We made it an extensive project that includes the Greek Village.” 

She also said there were no prior incidents leading to the decision of starting the project and made clear the cameras are not meant to invade the privacy of students or constantly monitor student activity. 

“We were intentional not to bring the cameras into the private (residence halls),” she said. “We’re really focused on the entry (and) exit areas. We will have some in our community spaces, but that’s just to add security and safety.”

In other words, the cameras will not be placed inside common areas or residents’ rooms. In Greek Village, they will be in the elevator lobbies.

Allie Barton, secretary for sorority Zeta Tau Alpha, said she had mixed feelings about the recent increase in security cameras in USF’s Greek Village, but said thinks they are ultimately necessary.

Barton said she had never heard of any incident that would warrant more monitoring of the Village, but said the cameras do make her feel safer in her first year living there. 

“I think that if something did happen, then it would be useful — like, if it there a crime or a robbery,” Barton said. “If you look at other on-campus housing, there are cameras on the swipe access door … there should be cameras.”

She was shocked, however, at the projected price tag of the project, which Hernandez said is yet to be determined. 

“We are still waiting for the final bill in regard to the project,” Hernandez said. “It’s a very expensive project, so it will be hundreds of thousands of dollars to install the cameras.”

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