Student Guard Office changes surveillance policy

October 31, 2013

In an email sent out to student guards on Oct. 23, the Student Guard Office informed its employees that it will allow DPS to use footage from security cameras installed in the lobby of every residence hall to ensure that student guards are following employment procedures.

“We must 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 desks,” Matthew Brands, assistant manager for the student guard program, wrote in the email.

According to DPS Chief Jay Gruber, this policy acts as a reinforcer of previously established policies that evaluate the performance of student guards.

“Nothing prompted the change,” Gruber said. “I have been requesting my staff to perform [quality assurance] checks since the beginning of the semester. Using the cameras is a just a tool in our tool kit.”

The cameras previously helped resolve security breaches and shift-related disputes, such as provisions of the 15 minutes break every guard is guaranteed to receive and situations where a student guard had left his or her post abandoned.

Some student guards support the policy, as it helps to clarify who is responsible for what when incidents happen. “I don’t see anything wrong with having video cameras,” said Zoe Disselkoen (SFS ’14), who holds the title of rover, which are experienced students who supervise student guards. “If you’re not doing anything wrong and you’re following policy, you should have no problem [with] having a camera on you.”

Others, however, are unconvinced that using footage to uphold DPS policies will increase security. “The new [camera] policy is basically there to make sure that you wear your shirt and don’t have a laptop, and that has no effect on what kind of a guard you are at all,” student guard Leona Pfeiffer (COL ’14) said.

Since this past summer, student guards have not been allowed to use their laptops or electronic tablets while on duty. They have also been asked to wear a specific uniform that identifies them as DPS employees.

Disselkoen says that the cameras add pressure to rovers. “If [the footage] shows that as the rover responsible for that shift I never stopped by to check [the guard], then … both myself and the student guard can be at fault,” she said.

In spite of the new policy, Gruber emphasized that his staff does not have time to constantly monitor student guards through cameras. “In-person checks are the most effective because we can take corrective action right then and there,” he said. “I don’t anticipate them being used very often…It’s something we have access to.”

DPS did not consult with student guards on the recent changes. “I don’t believe there would be a need to consult the rank and file on [the camera policy],” Gruber said. “It’s a management decision on how to make sure the guidelines and policies are being met.


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