I know I wrote about this last week, but I wanted to further expand my thoughts for the larger audience that TNH gets. Thanks for all the feedback so far!
UPDATE: From the actual page of the webcam: "In response to privacy concerns, the webcam has been limited to five preset locations." (Main Street East, Main Street West, Wildcat statue, College Road and Memorial Field.)
The New Hampshirite does it again.
Last Thursday, a few of my roommates and I were driving over to the mall to pick up some Halloween weekend essentials. As we passed through the intersection of Main Street and College Road in front of the Whittemore Center, we saw two female students holding a poster board that read "Creepy." None of us knew what that meant until we read Friday's TNH. There was an article about a new live webcam that had been installed about two weeks earlier at that intersection. This webcam prompted many students, including myself, to question its purposes. The project was funded by the Alumni Association in order to help keep alumni engaged with campus.
Almost immediately upon hearing about this webcam many students questioned the idea of whether or not the camera is an invasion of privacy. The fact that the camera is in a public setting seems to be the counter argument against the question of privacy. However the major problem I have with this camera, and I know many other students agree, is that users have the ability to control it. That is right. Anyone with Internet access can rotate, angle and most disturbingly, zoom the camera.
I do not know if people realize this, but the Internet is full of creeps. Like truly sick-minded people. Have you ever been on Chatroulette? My point exactly. I went onto the webcam to check it out before I first wrote about this Friday afternoon. I was third in line (users can control the camera for up to one minute at a time) and all three people in front of me used their time to zoom in on the closest female. How would you feel if you found out people were checking you out through a camera? As one girl walked underneath the camera it quickly aimed down and zoomed in as though the user was trying to see down her shirt. These are the type of people who are accessing this webcam.
Another complaint that students have voiced is that the UNH and Durham Police can sit in front of a computer on weekend nights and when they see a group of students stumble by the camera send a car to check them out. They might as well just set up sobriety checkpoints for pedestrians. Now some people would say that this would be a good thing. It can be used to identify those breaking the law and can be used for student safety. However, it is not a security camera. It does not record anything. Quite honestly, it is in such a public place I doubt it would catch anything more serious than a fender bender. L.B. Jeffries won't be solving any murders with this thing.
The Alumni Association argued that it would help keep other alumni engaged in campus and hopefully help draw more donations. I can think of several ways for alumni to stay engaged without assisting Internet pedophiles. These ways include reading this newspaper.0 TNH is student written; I doubt there is a better way to stay engaged with our campus than reading about campus events. They can also read the UNH Athletics' website, the UNH Today blog and news feed or even my blog. The Internet is a great place to access information and news about our great campus, but those ways should not include a live and controllable webcam.
I think it is amusing the Alumni Association hopes the camera will help improve donations. If this is how they decide to spend their money, they should not expect to get a dime from me. The Alumni Association used a $5,000 trust left by a former alumna to pay for the camera. I would not be happy if that was how my money was spent. Especially considering the conditions of many dorms, academic buildings and sidewalks on this campus. I mean have you ever been in the bathrooms in Hamilton Smith?
In conclusion, I feel that the cons definitely out way the pros with this camera. I know a lot of students agree with my thoughts and I also know that a lot of people think that it is a great idea. Perhaps students would feel differently if the camera were made stationary or at least eliminating the option to zoom in. I guess it comes down to what people think is more important; being able to see the beauty of UNH or being able to walk down Main Street without feeling that someone is watching you from the privacy of their bedroom.
Stay classy, not UMassy.