Since their creation over 20 years ago, IP security cameras have sparked controversy over the amount of privacy people can reasonably expect. Last week’s paper addressed the uses of Haggar’s 360-degree camera, which involves “social media and promotional footage,” according to Campus Safety Officer Captain Charles Steadman.
However, using security footage, of all things, to enhance the “fun” image of the University of Dallas is not only controversial, it’s downright confusing.
One problem is that the Mall is the hub of our school, where people are most likely to congregate. Of course, this makes it an optimal place to find promotional material, but people’s constant awareness that their actions may be commercially promulgated is a problem. Posting video of students without their knowledge or consent reduces the comfort and freedom students should be able to experience on the Mall.
Another problem is the real quality of this security footage for school marketing. It could record crowds going to classes, smokers grouped around tables and events like Charity Week. However, a mere headcount from the camera would capture none of the energy of the Mall. In particular, the camera’s location and angle removes it from the nucleus of the Mall. It seems like normal videos could easily be taken from eye level in the center of the action.
Most confusing is the idea that this footage would be prioritized over photos from the student body itself. In an age when nearly every college student has a state-of-the-art cell phone, where social media is abundant with semi-professional photography documenting every waking moment, where cameras unveil some of life’s most vibrant, joyful, exciting moments- why use security footage?
If UD needs more promotional material, it should look to its own students. Even my Instagram feed, representing nearly 150 UD accounts, is a daily reminder of the talent and diverse perspectives of the freshman class alone. We are models, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs, bookworms, scientists, campaigners and travelers. Despite all of our talents, we share a love for documenting our experiences. Many of us use photography as a form of journaling, from capturing simple sunsets to basketball action shots to friends out on the town. We are anything but camera shy, happy to show off our new school to friends and family back home, and happy most of all to celebrate the home we’re making at UD.
To truly showcase the exuberance of youth, UD’s marketing plan shouldn’t rely on detached security footage. It should focus instead on our own artistic students. Perhaps the Office of Advancement could hold biweekly photo competitions to show off the most beloved things about UD. Special events could have their own hashtag to indicate consent for photos to be used in school marketing. Grainy security footage isn’t good enough, because our filter-savvy, beauty-sensitive student body is a marketing team in its own right. The material is already at our fingertips.