Student LifeThe Buzz

St. Ambrose University Expands Security Cameras After Receiving Concerning Reports

DAVENPORT, Iowa – As alleged reports of vandalism and suspicious activity have become a common occurrence at St. Ambrose University (SAU), the SAU security team is introducing security cameras for all residence halls and some buildings.

“The camera installation has been an innovation we’ve been considering for many years since I arrived in 2019, and I believe even before then,” says Christopher Waugh, SAU’s Dean of Students.

SAU security has been receiving more reports of suspicious individuals and theft inside most residence buildings, and especially in one of the freshmen-only buildings, Cosgrove Hall.

“Eighty-six percent say these systems frequently help their departments monitor their campus during other situations when safety or security issues could arise,” says Campus City Magazine.

More American colleges are implementing surveillance cameras to keep students safe and reduce danger. By using these systems, campuses are working to prevent crime in and around their buildings.

“I’ve been in Cosgrove since my first semester here, and it wasn’t a shock that they were going to put them in,” says Morgan O’Malley, an SAU freshman. “People like to steal the furniture chairs in the lounge areas and bring them to their rooms all of the time. They were almost always missing before people started to notice the cameras.”

SAU campus security decided to run their first trial of the cameras in Cosgrove Hall, as they say, the building is receiving the most complaints. The cameras were placed throughout the first floor of the hall.

A security camera is mounted to the ceiling of the first floor of Cosgrove Hall.
Photo by Kler Soe
A close-up version of what every security camera will look like at SAU.
Photo by Kler Soe

“The new technology allows us to consistently record activity in the public area 24 hours a day and includes advanced features (like 360-degree shots) that make it easier to access recorded data if needed (even from a smartphone!),” says a recent SAU campus security email.

After SAU security completed their successful trial run of the security cameras in early December of 2022, SAU residence life confirmed in late February of 2023 that all residence halls will be receiving the 24-hour technology on the first floors. The chosen security cameras are high-tech, easy to monitor and include a clear image.

“It’s convenient placing them on the first floors since that is where we get the most activity of suspicious people,” says Megan Gerasch, a resident advisor in Bechtel Hall. “If someone enters the building that we don’t know, security will be able to identify the person better since they have a permanent video.”

While most reports of theft and suspicious activity occur on the first floors of SAU residence halls and buildings, some resident advisors and students say they are hoping that cameras will be installed on every floor.

“Students want more cameras in other places, such as in the laundry rooms,” says one of the resident advisors of Franklin Hall, Keegan Distler. “There have been many cases this year where other students have come in and stolen each other’s clothes. Students have also mentioned to me that their door mats and decorations are being stolen as well.”

SAU security has expressed that the ultimate goal would be to install cameras on every floor, but it is not in their 2023 plan.

“My residents are frustrated that some of their things still haven’t been returned, but the cameras seem to be reducing the number of thefts throughout the whole building,” says Keegan Distler. “I haven’t noticed a lot of action since.”

Like St. Ambrose University, many other college campuses have received countless reports of vandalism and complaints of suspicious behavior. Surveillance cameras are increasing in popularity around college campuses throughout the United States.

“The University of Kansas Lawrence and Edwards campuses employ video technologies such as closed circuit television (CCTV) and cameras to deter crime, to enhance personal safety, to protect property, and to assist the police in carrying out their public safety functions,” says the University of Kansas campus security.

As more security cameras are being introduced to more college campuses, many students say they feel safer and at ease in their residence halls and classrooms.

“Camera placement is based on data that show security cameras not only reduce instances of vandalism and theft, but they also provide peace of mind for folks when things do happen,” adds Christopher Waugh.

St. Ambrose campus security is still working on the installation of security cameras in every residence hall as well as in a few unnamed buildings. The SAU Residence Life staff informed students via email the project will be completed at the end of spring break, 2023. For more information on the surveillance cameras, students may call SAU security at 563-333-6104.