OPINION: Pomona should install more security cameras, hotel-style key cards

Online posts about stolen bikes and skateboards have long been a weekly occurrence in the “5C For Sale/For Free” Facebook group. But recently, people have been alerting our community to even more egregious instances of theft.

In February, multiple students’ electronic devices were stolen from Pomona College’s Harwood Hall. One student reported his camera and lenses stolen, totaling $2,600.

And just last week, Jeremy Snyder PO ’19, who recently won a Watson fellowship to photograph rivers in South America, wrote in a Facebook post that all his camera and equipment he spent the last three years investing in had been taken from his room.

When thefts occur, the administration sometimes emails students, offering advice about locking dorm room doors and not leaving electronics unattended.

However, we shouldn’t have to live in constant fear of people attempting to break into our rooms. As instances of theft continue to persist, at least on Pomona’s campus, the administration and Campus Safety need to re-evaluate their responses — perhaps by installing more security cameras and hotel-style key cards to get into dorm rooms.

When I first arrived at Pomona, I noticed early on that there is a lack of visible security cameras, except near some bike racks and parking garages. In addition to deterring crime, security cameras could offer Campus Safety and local police descriptions of perpetrators.

Cameras could be used to determine whether the perpetrators are members of our college community. If the cameras at the entrances of residence halls do not show somebody entering and leaving with stolen items at the reported time of the incident, it could indicate that the perpetrator lives in the same residence hall.

People often raise concerns of civil liberties in relation to security cameras, but those concerns have been subsiding in recent years as they become just another part of everyday life. A 2013 poll by The New York Times found that 78% of people said “surveillance cameras were a good idea.”

Pomona has tried to expand its security camera presence in the past.

In 2014, Pomona proposed installing additional security cameras to deter crime. However, some students and a branch of the American Civil Liberties Union raised objections, arguing that the footage would be used to enforce drug and alcohol policies.

With so much of our world being monitored, not having visible security cameras makes Pomona’s campus an easy target for thieves.

“With so much of our world being monitored, not having visible security cameras makes Pomona’s campus an easy target for thieves.”

In addition to installing more security cameras, Pomona could also follow in the footsteps of other colleges in giving students hotel-style key cards to access their dorm room. Students would simply tap their card to get into their room, and the door would lock automatically upon being closed.

The sad reality is that instances of theft will continue to persist on our campus until we start taking corrective measures. As students, we need to be locking our doors and not leaving personal items out in the library or in lounges. But the administration also needs to re-evaluate its methods and better advise students on the best safety procedures.

Christopher Murdy PO ’22 is an intended international relations major from Lido Beach, New York. Agree? Disagree? Different suggestions? Email him at christopher.murdy@pomona.edu.

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