Editorial: Campustown camera discussion needs more involvement


Jordan Zugmaier/Iowa State Daily

A security camera installed on a building in Campustown.

Editorial Board

The idea of installing cameras in Campustown on public property is still up in the air after a survey was released to residents in recent weeks. Cameras would only enhance the visitor and resident experience and level of safety in Campustown.

The Campustown Action Association was approached by the city of Ames to distribute the survey to residents, which has culminated in a dismal response. That is most likely attributed more to the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of surveys with college students than due to a negative feeling toward the cameras — but that’s a different issue.

The Campustown Action Association survey can be found here

The idea of installing security cameras on public property did not stem from any specific event, according to Rebecca Olson, director of the association. However, causal event or not, ensuring the safety of students just off of the university’s campus should be of the utmost importance, and installing these cameras is part of that.

While the cameras may not prevent students from partaking in acts of stupidity, especially when alcohol is involved, they will hold people more accountable for anything unfavorable that may occur in Campustown.

This is especially important to remember that the primary occupants and visitors of Campustown are students making that area an extension of campus, which means the safety of students should be set at the same standard in Campustown as on campus.

Installing cameras would also create another level of accountability when it comes to law enforcement. The country has watched countless stories of police misconduct come out of the woodwork this year, and these cameras would help prevent a similar story from taking place in Ames.

Of course the counter argument that could be made by those fighting against the installation of the cameras would be that privacy could be jeopardized. But installing cameras in Campustown is the same concept as having cameras in the mall; they are there for patron safety and ultimately the good of the public.

While there will be additional concerns, it is feasible that the issue of privacy will take the cake over other concerns for residents. This should be taken into consideration by the Campustown Action Association and the city of Ames during this time of planning for the surveillance cameras. Taking a position of transparency, especially when the survey is re-released to all ISU students, is key to getting the suggestion to pass.