The University’s camera expansion project has begun — and includes cameras inside of residential entryways, despite earlier University statements suggesting that installation would take place on building exteriors.
Following initial approval in December 2022 from the University’s Environmental, Safety, and Risk Management Committee (ESRM), installation of cameras at all residential entryways has begun, with Blair and Buyers halls being first. After the program’s approval, students and student groups, notably through Students for Prison Education, Abolition, and Reform (SPEAR), called on the University to reevaluate the policy.
While a memo sent to the campus community on March 8 stated that additional security cameras would be placed “at all exterior doorways in undergraduate residential college buildings and dorms,” cameras have been installed inside of residence entryways, facing the exterior. The memo was discussed with students including at a session with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG).
University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss told The Daily Princetonian that “campus architecture does not allow for effective placement of cameras on the exterior of buildings.”
“The cameras are being installed inside near ingress and egress doors to capture footage of people entering and exiting the building. Each camera goes through multiple levels of review to ensure its field of view is directed at the door as intended,” he said.
Hotchkiss also shared the image below of security footage from a camera in Buyers Hall, which displays the view of the camera aimed at the door, capturing some of the surrounding hallway.
Upon seeing security cameras inside, students have expressed their discomfort and surprise at the change in previous policy.
“I don’t like the cameras in [the] hallway,” said Blair Hall resident Charlotte Defriez ’26, speaking with the ‘Prince’ about privacy concerns following the installation of cameras in entryway 6 of Blair Hall. Though Defriez “wasn’t opposed” to the idea of cameras outside, their placement inside of hallways makes her “slightly uncomfortable,” and she feels that the University is “crossing a boundary” by placing cameras inside of residential buildings.
A lack of clear communication from the University was a point of concern for Mathey College Residential College Adviser Jessica Scott ’24, who was surprised to see cameras “installed within two days with no advanced warning.” The University did send emails informing residents of the camera work being done in their building, which reaffirmed that cameras would be installed on “exterior doorways.”
Scott told the ‘Prince’ that despite the security camera pointing towards the exit and having a narrow field of vision, she feels “hyper aware of the camera’s presence” every time she enters her building.
Student concerns have existed since proposals for increased security cameras began to gain traction in late 2022.
“There is kind of a lack of trust in that [there is little faith that] the administration would not violate students’ privacy,” Seth Kahn ’25 said at a student feedback session held by administrators on the issue in November.
Additionally, in an April meeting of the Undergraduate Student Government, two members raised concerns about implicit bias, accountability, and profiling that might occur when reviewing footage.
The complete memo referenced in the email sent to students who would be affected by construction was not publicly available and remains inaccessible to some University undergraduate students, including those who the email was sent to.
Hotchkiss told the ‘Prince’ that the FAQ which references where cameras can and cannot be placed will be updated to better reflect the “necessary change in the installation process.” The Public Safety FAQ and Facilities page on the project have not yet been updated to reflect this change.
Vitus Larrieu is a features contributor and an assistant Podcast editor for the ‘Prince.’
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