Pomona Considers Drone Control

A committee of Pomona staff members and a student gathered Feb. 6 to discuss the potential implementation of a drone policy. The committee, which was made up of representatives from student affairs, facilities and communications along with one student, addressed the increasing amounts of personal drones on campus and whether or not Pomona needed a specific policy to protect student privacy and safety with regard to the drones.

Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Marylou Ferry, who was part of the committee, wrote in an email to TSL that the discussion had ended with the conclusion that the policy might not be necessary.

“We determined that it is likely the concerns about privacy and safety may already be covered by the various federal regulations, California law, and our student handbook,” Ferry wrote. 

Ferry wrote that the drones in question are drones used by students and faculty for personal use, not by Pomona. 

“The college administration has no plans to purchase drones,” Ferry wrote. “There are no plans to have drones monitor the campus.”  

Mark Andrejevic, an associate professor of media studies at Pomona who is teaching a class entitled “Drone Theory” this semester, believes that drones might play an increased role in public security in the future. If the college does decide at some point to implement drones in its own security programs, Andrejevic believes that the notion would meet too much resistance to come into fruition.  

“Likely, the university may face down the road whether or not its own security would be interested in using this technology. And I suspect that’s something that would, at this point, create concern in a number of quarters because of the invasive and slightly ominous character of drones being used for surveillance. I think the college here has a culture that would resist going in that direction,” Andrejevic said.

The Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC) is also exploring the potential use of drones on campus. ASCMC’s Technology and Innovation Chair Alex Huesing CM ’17 is taking drones beyond personal use to employ them as a advertising method for the college. Huesing has been pushing for the purchase of a communal photography drone for ASCMC since last November for that reason.

“With a drone, we would create a check-out system that would allow ASCMC, clubs, and students to submit proposals in order to use the device,” Huesing wrote in a message to TSL. “Our Senate Committee envisions the device being used for aerial photography of organized events and the CMC campus.”

Huesing believes that the photography drone’s capabilities would have very practical benefits for CMC.  

“This is part of our current initiative to improve the school’s social networking outreach with compelling media,” Huesing wrote. “After reaching out to the freshman class, we found that most students were entirely unimpressed by the school’s social media profiles.” 

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