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University removes Hegeman Hall surveillance cameras

Cameras were installed last year in response to hate speech

Security cameras in Hegeman Hall, which were initially installed in spring 2020 in response to multiple instances of homophobic graffiti and one instance of antisemitic graffiti, were recently taken down.

In an email to the Herald, Vice President for Campus Life Eric Estes wrote that the cameras were always meant to be temporary in order to address concerns for residents’ safety and wellbeing. The cameras were removed in April 2021.

At the time, then Department of Public Safety Chief Mark Porter said that the installation of cameras in Hegeman marked the first time in his memory that the University had used security cameras inside a dormitory, but he felt that they were a crucial aid to the investigation, The Herald previously reported. DPS launched a hate crime investigation into a collective 15 instances of the offensive graffiti.

Koren Bakkegard, associate vice president for campus life and dean of students, also told The Herald at the time that the University would reconsider the necessity of the cameras once the investigation commenced. 

Porter, who departed his position as DPS chief at the end of June, did not respond to requests for comment on the cameras’ removal. 

Three students currently living in Hegeman confirmed to The Herald that they were not notified about the cameras’ removal.

Jared Cambier ’24, who lives in the dorm, said that there was no explanation given as to why the cameras were in Hegeman in the first place. He “never really thought about” why they were there, he said. Current residents were not informed about the cameras nor the reason for their presence after last year’s residents moved out.

“I distinctly remember one day seeing them, and then the next day I went to get my laundry and they were gone,” Hegeman resident Nikolai Rogalinski ’24 said of the cameras. “I can see a discussion about whether they should be there in the first place, but once they’re there, it seems strange to take them down.”

Rogalinski said as far as he knew, the cameras were generally not seen as a nuisance among the residents of Hegeman. “I personally was never bothered by them, and even though I can see an argument for them being annoying, I think they were a good thing,” he said. 

Cambier agreed that he “never saw the cameras as a nuisance,” but noted that he thought “it was a little odd,” that cameras were everywhere. He also recalled no notices that cameras would be removed; like Rogalinski, he simply noticed that they were gone one day.

Last year’s residents of Hegeman were notified in advance of the installation of cameras, according to Estes. They were not placed in any private spaces such as rooms, suites, or bathrooms — only in public spaces such as the lounge and stairways. Rogalinski recalled seeing cameras in common areas, floor kitchens, by the laundry and in the trash room.

Estes wrote that if a situation were to “arise in the future that seemed appropriate for a similar response, temporary cameras monitoring common areas could again be installed.”

Rogalinski questioned the effectiveness of the cameras at deterring hateful graffiti on campus. “The cameras might have prevented things from happening in Hegeman, but if you’re somebody who wants to do something like that, you might just find a different place to go.”



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