Security cameras create uneasy atmosphere

September 17, 2008 — by Tiffany Tseng

Imagine driving to school or walking across the parking lot while knowing that your actions are being recorded. It is easy to feel self-conscious or even violated when it seems anything can be viewed by the administration and outside authorities.

Saratoga High has recently installed security cameras monitoring the school’s parking lots after encouragement from the WASC accreditation team, who last year commented on the openness and lack of security of the school. Although this effort to decrease vandalisms is supposed to create a feeling of security for students and faculty, it feels like an invasion of privacy.

Security cameras detract from the comfort of the school and demonstrate the school’s lack of trust for its students. Even though the cameras are not being monitored all the time, it is still unfair for students who are not in any kind of trouble to be recorded whenever they are in the parking lot.

While driving by the school in previous years, it was normal to see students gathering in the parking lot with their friends before and after school. The installation of security cameras may discourage students from spending too much time in the parking lots to avoid looking suspicious, even if they are not engaging in prohibited activities.

Although this may only be the first step to increasing security, one cannot help but wonder where it will stop. The reason for placing cameras in the front and back parking lots are simple: to discourage vandalisms or other harmful activities. However, one could argue that placing security cameras in the quad or in the hallways will also be beneficial to monitor any locker thefts or damages done to school property. The sports boosters have also paid to install security cameras looking over the football field as precaution. Even though nobody is monitoring the live feed, the records are kept and can be replayed if necessary. Just the idea of being recorded before, during and after practice or gym class invokes an uneasy atmosphere.

Imagine how uncomfortable it would be if cameras were inside other classes. The school must set limits on how far it will go to provide security, and there must be a balance between safety and personal comfort.

The school may have installed security cameras to provide safety for students and faculty, but let’s hope this small step won’t lead to other decisions that will display further distrust in students and create an uncomfortable environment overall.

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