Camera use violates privacy of student guards

October 31, 2013

In an Oct. 25 email to all student guards, the Student Guard Office announced that it would “go over past footage whenever possible to check for failures, to follow policies properly to supplement current procedures already in place, such as rovers or officers walking around the desks”. Whereas in the past the office only reviewed security footage to resolve employee disputes and investigate complaints.

According to GUPD, which manages the Office of Student Guards, the new policy will function as “quality assurance checks.” In light of an article published in The Hoya on Oct. 8 that reported ineffective enforcement of department policies, these checks will undoubtedly be used by GUPD to enforce the laptop ban and uniform policies instituted at the beginning of the summer term this year.

It falls completely within GUPD’s rights as an employer to monitor employee performance. However, using security footage to implement the laptop ban is equivalent to GUPD spying on its employees. GUPD has shown a lack of respect for its student employees by implementing this policy. If problems concerning employee performance arise, rather than playing Big Brother, GUPD should address concerns on a case-by-case basis.

Constant surveillance wastes the Office of Student Guards’ time and energy. Rovers and student supervisors responsible for monitoring guards already are in charge of enforcing department policies. Using security cameras to enforce policies undermines the role of these students and would not ensure a consistent enforcement of policies. As the email states, supervisors do not have the “time or inclination” to be “constantly viewing footage, past and present.”

Apart from the new enforcement policy, the laptop ban itself shows a vast disregard for the lifestyle of student employees. No matter what department employs them, student employees are students first. Banning electronic devices such as laptops and electronic reading devices severely limits a guard’s ability to use the four hours of their shift productively. While student guards are paid to be vigilant while on duty, electronic devices do not distract students any more than printed books, which are still permitted.

GUPD should focus on other, more effective ways to ensure security in residence halls. GUPD would be well-served to show more trust in its student employees. Student guards do not need a babysitter to make sure they can perform their jobs competently.

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The Editorial Board is the official opinion of the Georgetown Voice. Its current composition can be found on the masthead. The Board strives to publish critical analyses of events at both Georgetown and in the wider D.C. community. We welcome everyone from all backgrounds and experience levels to join us!


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JD Salinger

It is a generally accepted principle that there is no right to privacy in a common area (such as a lobby or outside). It is also general knowledge that some (many?) student guards do not perform their job as proscribed. There are constantly stories about how the guard is away from the desk, doesn’t look at the ID, or even look up when people enter. I would agree that the guards should be able to use their laptops in combination with using the cameras as a tool to ensure compliance. That way, when a guard is seen using his or her laptop AND clearly not doing their job (ie, looking up at people, checking ID, etc), then it’s fair game to discipline them. It’s a job and DPS has every right to use whatever reasonable means necessary to ensure that job is being done well. Using the cameras is a good use of resources since the other option is to hire more people to supervise.