Who’s watching you? New security camera policy defines access

By Benjamin Rieke


In today’s world of modern surveillance, students are hard-pressed to find a place where their every move is not being recorded.

Now, MSUM is hoping a new security camera policy will shed some light on how, when and where students and faculty are being monitored on campus.

While MSUM has used security cameras for years, the college did not have an official policy before now. The main goal of the policy is to establish a set of clear guidelines for the school and Public Safety to monitor all security camera usage matters on campus. This includes who can watch footage recorded on college security cameras and where cameras can be installed on campus.

“As the years have gone on, we’ve had periodic requests for video,” MSUM Director of Public Safety Jim Schumann said. “(The policy) more or less deals with how video could be released and under what circumstances could we release video.”

Schumann ultimately decides who can and cannot view security camera footage. The policy states that the director of Public Safety can authorize personnel to keep record of footage recorded by the cameras. Anyone accessing the records must log their identity, the video being reviewed and when they are reviewing it. Anyone not authorized by the director to view the footage can submit a request gain access. However, just because a request is made does not mean it will be approved.

“Insurance companies might want video or a police department want video or even someone involved in something on campus might want video,” Schumann said. “The policy gives a more transparent view of what our policy is with releasing video.”

Schumann also reviews requests for new cameras to be installed or for old ones to be removed. He notes there are restrictions to where cameras are allowed on campus.

“We never put them in an area where anyone has an expectation of privacy,” Schumann said. “The ones that we do have in residence halls usually look at entrances to buildings to see who is coming and going.”

This expectation of privacy extends to both students and faculty. No cameras can be installed inside student dorm rooms or faculty offices unless the concerned persons submit a formal request to the director for review. According to the policy, the director must give approval to the installation of a new security camera in advance of it being installed, unless it is an emergency. Any camera installed must have all audio recording capabilities turned off.

Schumann stated most cameras are placed around the exteriors of buildings to monitor entrances, parking lots and high traffic areas to keep an eye on who is coming and going around campus. He also added that cameras inside academic buildings are not placed inside classrooms without a good reason.

“If we have a camera in a classroom, it may be there to watch some equipment that’s valuable,” Schumann said. “It isn’t to monitor anybody’s instructional habits or teaching styles.”

Minnesota State University Moorhead is not the only college updating its security camera policy. These new guidelines are part of an initiative started by the Minnesota State system to unify how schools handle security cameras.

“(Minnesota State) did a prototype, trying to get a standardized policy that fits all the universities and tech schools,” MSUM Director of Public Safety Jim Schumann said. “You can modify it to fit your own school, but there’s a template for it.”

The security camera policy will be under review until Oct. 2.

Students with any questions or concerns about the policy can contact policy custodian Kathleen McNabb at mcnabb@ mnstate.edu. A final draft of the policy will be presented on Oct. 5.

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