University News

ResLife investigating fake ‘surveillance’ letter

By
News Editor
Friday, October 1, 2010

Administrators are investigating a forged letter posted Wednesday in Keeney Quadrangle.

The Office of Residential Life is reviewing the circumstances surrounding a letter announcing the installation of security cameras in Keeney and Pembroke campus, according to Senior Associate Dean of Residential and Dining Services Richard Bova.

The letter, created by Evan Donahue ’11 as part of a project for a modern culture and media class, was addressed to residents of Keeney and Pembroke and signed by “Residential Life.”

Bova said he was looking into information regarding the hoax, though he said he could not comment on further actions because a student was involved. “It’s all under review,” Bova said, though he said he has not spoken directly with the student. His office is in the process of removing the letters from Keeney bathroom doors, he said.

The forged letter had claimed that a number of closed circuit television cameras would be installed by the Department of Facilities Management in Keeney and Pembroke during the fall. Cameras would go up in Keeney “in the next few weeks” and on Pembroke later this fall as a response to complaints “regarding the treatment of emergency exit signs inside Pembroke buildings and in the Keeney Quadrangle,” it claimed.

It went on to state that the installation was approved by the Corporation at its May meeting “as part of Brown’s continuing investment in capital projects.”

The project was designed for MCM 1700M: “Techniques of Surveillance” and was intended to evaluate how people behave when they think they are being watched, said Donahue, a Herald editorial cartoonist. In addition to posting the letter, Donahue also put up markings in Keeney hallways meant to suggest imminent camera installation and sent an e-mail to Residential Peer Leaders in Keeney after the letters were posted in the residence hall, he said.

Natalie Basil, associate director for ResLife, sent an e-mail Thursday afternoon to RPLs notifying them that the letter was fake.

“Please know that any time there are going to be changes that will impact you and your residential communities to this degree, you would be asked to give your input through a focus group and receive notice from myself or your Community Director prior to these changes being announced in your communities,” Basil wrote in the e-mail.

The fake letters “struck a chord,” said Dylan Field ’13, a Residential Counselor in Keeney. Field said he was initially worried about the possibility of camera installation, adding that his group of RPLs discussed the letter at a meeting Wednesday before learning it was a scam. He said he began taking down posted letters this morning.

ResLife does not have plans to publish a response to the letter, Bova said. “Sending out a broadcast e-mail is not the way to approach this,” he said, adding that he is leaving it up to RPLs to notify other students that the letter was forged.

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