We’ve all been there, or at least heard the stories: standing outside Forbes without a key, having lost it at the Street or just studying at the library. Despite the supposed improvement with “keyless locks,” there are still countless items lost in and around campus that are not just keys, but rather wallets, computer chargers and even hundreds of dollars. There’s an issue here, and keyless locks won’t fully solve the problem.
Reducing the amount of theft that takes place on this campus is a two-way street. The administration can continue to improve campus security by placing video surveillance in buildings. But students should not be so trusting of their surroundings and other students when leaving their items unsupervised for a sizable amount of time.
If you scan the Point website, you can see how many students post missing items on the bulletin board. We cannot blindly trust the integrity of students to return items that they’ve found — especially if those items have large monetary values or if they’re just useful to the students, plain and simple. With cameras frequently installed in lobbies of department buildings, student and study centers, the hypothetical method could be like this: A student files a complaint with Public Safety; an officer from that department reviews the security camera tapes; the person who had stolen the item is identified; and then that student is disciplined.
The multiple lost and found systems found on social networking sites and the USG-affiliated site would not be needed. All information would be consolidated into one place: at the Public Safety office. Of course students can ask employees at various buildings if they have seen someone take something; but how would they know for sure? Items are stolen within the blink of an eye and an employee can easily believe that someone picking up an item is actually the owner of said item. Employees clock in and out of shifts and their main duties are usually not centered on giving witness accounts of stolen items.
As for the students, it is safe to say that they have an overwhelming sense of trust on this campus. While it is true that Princeton may not be as dangerous of a campus as Harvard, Yale or Columbia, for example, still, there is no reason to be naive. Even though we usually don’t hear about crimes such as murder or rape, theft is rampant here — and we partially have ourselves to blame. Students regularly walk away from their computers, chargers and even handbags for large amounts of time, expecting that no one will steal their belongings. However, this is not always the case. We need to take more responsibility in keeping our valuable items by our sides and not leaving them unsupervised even if a certain area, or our campus as a whole, is considered safe. Everyone is prone to being robbed because of this type of behavior.
If surveillance were to be put into place then just the thought of being watched and facing possible punishment would discourage students from stealing in the first place. For areas that many students frequent — like the halls of various residential buildings or centers — cameras would prove extremely beneficial. But so too would simple common sense: Be more watchful of your things.
Morgan Jerkins is a comparative literature major from Williamstown, N. J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.