A new semester always comes with changes. For myself, and other residents of Guild-Memorial Hall (GM), that means that this semester comes with newly installed OneCard swipes and security cameras, acting as a security measure to increase safety of students within the residence halls.
Firstly, I am glad that solutions are being implemented in response to complaints and dissatisfaction coming from those affected. Doing something to fix the problem is imperative if the university wants to live up to the idea of caring about students and listening to their problems.
However, it would be wrong for me to say that I believe they are either doing enough or going about it the right way.
The two changes are only deterrents, not ways of fully stopping the action. It may be harder to peer into bathrooms, but it could still happen. It’s as simple as a resident not paying attention when they swipe in; their OneCard gets stolen and someone without access initially can bypass the scanner. Several other scenarios still leave the potential for unwelcomed entry.
The best way I can think of to stop this action in a more complete manner is by installing floor-to-ceiling partitions in all of the toilets and showers to ensure that no one can slide a phone under or over the stall divider.
While this is still a deterrent, the partitions make it so that the only way that people can take inappropriate photos is if they physically break down the door, which would be extremely unlikely.
This solution of making floor to ceiling dividers also would help with not making students feel worried about being watched by security cameras. The idea of someone sitting in a chair watching and possibly hearing what I am saying is quite unsettling, and honestly kind of creepy.
With the partitions, the security cameras wouldn’t need to be installed anymore and could offer peace-of-mind to residents, but also ensure that they are not being tracked or intruded on in the name of security.
For the OneCard readers, I honestly have no clue how they work other than they turn green when I can be somewhere, and red when I can’t get in. Knowing how my OneCard data is going to be used, if at all, would also help to ease my mind.
If my OneCard is being used as another tracking device, I don’t think knowing when I use the bathroom is information that I either want to be recorded, or would be helpful during an investigation if an incident were to occur.
The other problem that I have with this solution is that I believe it will end here if there are no more cases of voyeurism. Only GM has received these new security measures, but why haven’t the rest of the dorms? What else is being done to proactively make students feel safe on and off campus?
For many of these security issues, they always seem to appear reactive, after something already happens. These new measures are a perfect testament to that; they only got implemented after something happened.
Both students and faculty need to be thinking about potential problems and solutions before these problems ever occur. These scanners and cameras are a step in the right direction, but unless more is done to protect students in the bathrooms and across campus, this solution will only appear to be a decision to save face; not to show Valpo cares about their students.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.