Image Description: A picture of Oriel College
Oriel JCR recently passed a motion at a meeting to condemn the use of CCTV footage in the punishment of students.
The motion emphasised that the usage of CCTV and other means of surveillance to track and discipline students living in college accommodation was unacceptable and had caused uneasiness within the JCR. The JCR have called for the cessation of all surveillance except in cases of emergency and for all evidence gathered in such a manner to be discounted in internal disciplinary proceedings. The motion notes that while it is important to consider the safety of college members during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is equally important that students’ right to privacy is also respected.
It further calls for the right of any student tracked in such a manner to complain anonymously to College to be better protected and for staff members who repeatedly use CCTV to track students to have action taken against them. The motion also highlights that this is the general position of the JCR.
Some members of the JCR felt that they had been actively profiled on the basis of personal characteristics and Bodcard data.
A motion on the usage of CCTV by the college passed 32 to 25, with 9 abstentions, and the motion on procedural safeguards and the use of CCTV passed 44 to 16, with 4 abstentions.
A spokesperson for Oriel College stated that:
“Our current security systems are in place to ensure the safety of our students and other members of College, and to maintain the security of our buildings. We respect our students’ right to privacy and make every effort to limit any intrusion on this. We understand that Oriel is our students’ home, and we want them to feel comfortable and safe here. In some instances, where there is a security concern, a person may be approached by a member of College staff to identify themselves and to state their purpose in College. This action is taken to ensure the security of all members of College and to help prevent any crimes taking place, for example a potential burglary attempt. CCTV footage would only be reviewed by the decanal team if a serious disciplinary offence or criminal act has taken place or is alleged to have taken place.”
“We have held conversations with students about the concerns they have raised, and understand that they would appreciate further information about the use of CCTV in College. We are about to approve a new CCTV Code of Practice to provide further clarity about our CCTV system and its legitimate security uses. Student representatives have seen this new Code of Practice and we hope that it will be a helpful point of reference for all our members. We are already operating within the parameters of the new Code of Practice.”
The Oriel JCR President has been contacted for comment.
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