UI officials implement surveillance camera policy
Unbeknown to many, students, staff, and faculty on the University of Iowa campus are being watched.
At any point in time, 700 installed surveillance cameras may be monitoring the activities of those on campus, but UI officials aren’t even sure where they all are.
The UI Faculty Senate met last spring and approved a video-surveillance policy in order to assess the location and use of all cameras on campus as well as to stipulate that all future installations of cameras must go through a request and approval procedure.
“I think [the policy] came about out of an interest to try to have some consistency and careful thought about when to use surveillance cameras,” said Kevin Ward, a UI assistant vice president for Human Resources.
Ward, members of the Information Technology Services staff, the UI police, and UI Health Care worked to develop the policy. The policy was approved in April by the Faculty Senate and then UI President Sally Mason.
“It reinforces a safe campus for students, faculty, and staff,” Ward said.
The policy, which was put into effect this August, stipulates that all future cameras installed by a UI department other than the UI police are required to go through a request and approval process.
Additionally, an administrative committee will be formed to monitor the application of the new policy and use of existing cameras.
University spokesman Tom Moore said the policy also stipulates that the department that wishes to install a new surveillance camera must be able to pay for the camera and the installation itself. Cameras installed on campus can range in price from $500 to $2,500.
“The university is committed to protecting the safety and property of our community,” Moore said. “The policy is intended to ensure the appropriate use of video surveillance for reasons of safety and security.”
The administrative committee, in the process of being formed, will also be in charge of approving any requests to view footage from any of the cameras on campus.
Moore said requests for footage will primarily be used to solve crime.
“It helps in the investigation of any incident that may be captured on video,” he said.
Richard Fumerton, a past president of the UI Faculty Senate, said the Faculty Senate recognized a need for a policy because of the growing number of cameras on campus in conjunction with the large number that already exist.
“Surveillance cameras were popping up all over the place,” he said.
UI officials are still in the process of collecting data concerning the number and location of all the cameras on campus. As a part of the new policy, all current cameras need to be reported to the UI police by the end of this year.
According to the policy, failure to comply with the regulations could result in the removal of the camera, the potential expulsion of violators from the university, and referral to UI police for possible criminal investigation.
“The bottom line is we developed the policy to essentially establish some control over the use of surveillance cameras on campus,” Ward said.
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