Investigation into claims of hidden surveillance

Jeff Burnett, Staff Writer

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The SGA passed a resolution at Sunday night’s meeting to begin a formal investigation on the use of hidden surveillance cameras by the university after a union faculty member notified them.

A task force within the Campus Safety Committee will lead the inquiry and has submitted requests to the university for records, receipts, documentation, and video recordings regarding its cameras and its policies.

“We feel this is key to student safety and make sure they feel safe and secure on our campus,” said SGA President Austin Mehmet.

Mehmet did not give a direct timeline on when the investigation will be complete, but said that he hopes to have all information and facts within the next two to three weeks. “I would want to have a clear picture of what’s going on,” said Mehmet.

The Journal obtained a UIS United Faculty internal memo to its members that said they have requested “any and all policies related to surveillance of faculty and staff in both public and restricted- access areas” on campus.

The memo indicated that it’s come to the union’s attention that the university has installed or have used “hidden surveillance cameras” within the past year to monitor faculty and staff without notifying its bargaining unit or members.

“The use of cameras in the workplaces is probably something that we should be able to negotiate with the university,” said Lynn Fisher, associate professor of anthropology and UIS United Faculty chapter president.

Fisher said that “a member” of the school notified the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI) Local 4100 about the suspected use of the surveillance cameras and UPI relayed that information to the UIS United Faculty. “Because it’s not a member of our bargaining unit we are seeking further clarification and details,” said Fisher.

When asked about the union’s report, SGA involvement, or the use of hidden surveillance cameras on campus, Ryan Croke, associate chancellor for public affairs and interim director of human resources would not go into further detail about the university’s security policies or about the possibility of surveillance cameras.

“That is not consistent with my understanding of our security cameras on campus,” Croke said, “For the sake of security we have a lot of cameras on campus.”

The university’s camera policy states it uses closed circuit television (CCTV) and web cameras to monitor public areas to “deter crime” and to assist law enforcement with “protecting the campus community.”

Surveillance of political or religious activities and staff and student evaluations are prohibited. The policy mentions the use of the cameras in public areas is for security purposes and is “limited” to uses that do not violate privacy laws.

“We do it in the best interest of our students and employees” Croke said. “We follow all the rules on the campus and will continue to do so.”

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