By: Alexis Stallard, Editor-In-Chief
Student Government Association president Ian Lecki said that Newman students no longer feel safe or comfortable parking in certain areas of campus because security cameras are so out of date, the footage rarely helps in identifying anyone. His goal: to get approval for new security cameras across campus, especially at the Fugate and Carrocci dorms.
To get the project in motion, the bill to pay for and install the cameras has to go get approval from SGA, which is likely to happen during the SGA meeting on Tuesday. Then, the project will go before Newman’s Board of Trustees for approval.
Vaughan said that the estimated total cost for the whole project would be around $49,000. Lecki said SGA does not have enough money to cover the entire cost of the project and still be able to pay for other services, like the Virtual Care Group or students’ Genesis memberships. He said he is unsure of how much SGA can afford to cover and that it would depend upon what the SGA senate members decide.
Lecki said he got passionate about the security camera plan after noticing that so many break-ins and sketchy situations were making students afraid.
“They would rather park in the handicap spots,” Lecki said. “They’ve told me they’d rather take a fine from Mo (Morris Floyd, director of security) just to make sure that their cars aren’t having their catalytic converters cut off, windows aren’t kicked in, locks aren’t broke.”
Lecki said the first break-in of this school year happened about two weeks in and caused about $8,000 in damage and stolen items for the student. Lecki had the catalytic converter stolen from his car earlier this year and was one of two students who had his car windows smashed on Sunday night.
“What we have is not working,” Lecki said. “It’s time to upgrade our systems and make our campus a little bit safer.”
Lecki said he met with leaders of Residence Life and Campus Security, who agreed that all cameras outside the Fugate and Carroci dorms were in most need of being replaced. This would include cameras inside the dorms’ hallways, a suggestion made in response to a student entering rooms and stealing items last semester.
The entrance of the Dugan Library is another place cameras are needed, Lecki said, mostly for the safety of the student workers who are sometimes there until midnight. Lecki also noted that members of the homeless population often walk through campus, especially in the winter, and he would like another camera to be placed outside O’Shaughnessy Hall.
“...Some of the homeless population has been breaking into it and going into the locker rooms, so we’re going to get a camera over there that actually works,” Lecki said.
The buildings in the main part of campus have no outside cameras, so Sacred Heart, Dugan, McNeil and the Bishop Gerber Science Center would be some of the buildings that would get cameras under Lecki’s plan. Beata Hall would have its cameras updated, and some extra coverage would be added outside Merlini Hall.
Lecki has been meeting with Floyd and Icer Vaughan, chief information officer, about the possibility of installing the Flock Safety brand security system. It would monitor both sides of McCormick street on campus and the entrance by the ASC convent, ensuring that no car or person could enter the campus without being recorded. This software would automatically catalog all vehicles and license plates entering campus, making it easier for security to sort through footage to find a specific vehicle.
Because Newman does not own McCormick Street, approval from the city was needed to put the Flock cameras up — approval the city has granted, which was a major step in the process, Lecki said.
Floyd said he believes that the project is needed: He’s been at Newman for eight years and most of the cameras now in use were here for a few years before his arrival.
“Our ability to help protect the people and assets would be greatly enhanced by updated cameras and additional cameras, which SGA is looking into funding,” Floyd said. “SGA is stepping up and helping Security provide the safest environment for students, faculty, staff and guests.”
Lecki said that students can help push the project forward by voicing their support for it.
“We’re hoping that we can get this done by the end of the year so that stuff can be installed over the summer…” Lecki said. “Hopefully by August, everything will be new and ready to go.”
Photo: Courtesy Photo, Ian Lecki