In the coming spring, security cameras will be installed on the exterior of certain buildings across campus in response to the intruders and trespassers last year that have disturbed the Deerfield community.
The current plan is to have them up and running by commencement, May 26, 2019.
The idea for installing cameras across campus was first proposed back in 2011; however, the administration and Board of Trustees did not act upon it because they were, as Chief Financial Officer Keith Finan put it, “reluctant because of the community and sensitive about our culture.”
This reluctance soon faded as instances of robbery, intrusions, and other inappropriate activities by individuals outside the Deerfield community became more prevalent.
Just last spring, an unknown man walked onto campus and began taking photos of students without permission. Additionally, during the summer of 2018, several faculty members’ bikes were stolen and unauthorized individuals were trying to go to the river by cutting through Deerfield Academy’s property.
In response, the Board of Trustees asked the administration to perform a security assessment of Deerfield’s campus.
The administration hired two security experts to come into Deerfield and assess the school’s security procedures. At the conclusion of the assessment, they proposed the installation of security cameras.
As Mr. Finan explained, “The idea is that our campus is wide open. … We’re split by Old Main Street and Albany Road, so we don’t control [what happens in the area]. [The security experts] recommended that we have cameras installed so that we can, need be, know who was coming onto campus.”
The main goal of the security cameras is, as Mr. Finan elaborated, “to provide a deterrent and give us the ability to figure out what happened [if something were to occur]. The idea is to have cameras there so that when something does happen, we can go back and see like ‘Hey, so what was going on’… The purpose of these cameras is for security and safety reasons… We’re not going to monitor them and actively watch what people are doing.”
In total, there will be twenty-five different cameras on the exterior of buildings where they can monitor the access points onto campus and into buildings.
Some locations include the main school building looking onto Old Main Street, the greenhouse, and on the athletic complex looking down onto the parking lot and lower fields, according to Mr. Finan. No cameras are planned to be installed inside student dormitories.
The idea of having security cameras across campus has garnered mixed reactions amongst students.
For some students, the cameras do not incite any strong opinions on the issue.
As Jean Jin ‘22 shared, “I don’t think this will affect me that much, honestly.”
With a similar sentiment, Madeline Carey ‘20 expressed, ”So long as it’s in a reasonable amount in reasonable places, I don’t think it really matters… Nobody is going to change what they’re doing.”
For others, the prospect of having cameras is undesirable and unwanted. Some students believe the cameras will not benefit the school in any way.
When discussing the incidents of intruders in the previous year, Marwan Gideon Achi ‘21 asked, “What’s a surveillance camera going to do about that?”
With a similar opinion Anna Mishchenko ‘19 voiced, “I just think they’re unnecessary.”
Similarly, David Chen ’20 expressed, “The money [we’re] spending on those security cameras could be spent on something more important.”
Other students are worried about what could follow after these cameras are installed.
With a similar opinion, Chen expressed, “I just think it sets a bad precedent for what could happen in the future.”
As a whole, many students believe the cameras will, as Peter Sanford ‘20 stated, “cause more trouble than good.”
However, there are also many other students who support the idea of having security cameras across campus.
As Mason Zhao ‘20 shared, “Personally I’m a big fan of this initiative. At its most basic foundation, we as students have to realize that our campus is vast and open… It’s still very possible for anyone to access our campus without anyone noticing.”
For Zhao, the incidents of non-Deerfield community members entering campus made him “very uncomfortable”. The security cameras, in Zhao’s opinion, “would address incidents such as this.”
Nonetheless, the presence of these cameras is inevitable, no matter the students’ opinions towards them. Whether or not they will benefit the safety of the community or not, only time will tell.