New fixtures may find their way to Campustown, but these fixtures won't only be looked at, they'll also look back.
The Campustown Action Association, or CAA, was asked by the city of Ames to send a survey to the nearby residents of Campustown about the possibility of putting security cameras in areas of Campustown.
The survey was distributed to local residents a few weeks ago and will be sent out to ISU students within the next week or so. Only a few hundred people have taken this survey, so the true results of it and the actions that will be taken are unclear at the moment.
CAA hopes to get the vast majority of 42,000 residents, including students, to reply to this survey before taking any action on the matter. So far, CAA is content with the number of participants and the results it's received, however, it expects far more citizens to participate in the next few weeks.
Rebecca Olson, director of CAA, described the difficulty of getting the survey out to students in a timely matter. Since CAA is not a student entity, it takes a lot of time to reach out to all of the students at Iowa State and to get the approval to do so.
However, since a large portion of Ames residents who visit Campustown are in-fact students, the importance of getting their opinion on the installation of security cameras is crucial.
“A large majority of residents who either reside or visit Campustown are students," Olson said. "It would be unfair to change their living situation without their input. We want to reach out to students because their opinions matter to the city of Ames."
Olson said there is no specific reason or event that occurred in Campustown that perpetuated the possibility of a camera addition, but rather the city feels like safety is always a concern. For the well-being of the city's students, putting security cameras in Campustown is another way to make the area a safer place to live.
Because there is no estimated final results from the survey, it's unclear where the cameras will be installed if the majority of residents agree with the proposal.
Sgt. Joel Congdon of the Ames Police Department expressed the major positives and negatives of having security cameras in local communities.
Congdon said that this is generally a passionate topic for people who lean one way or another. He explained that if there was an incident within Campustown, the police department would then have to go to local businesses and ask for access to their cameras, which may take a long time to acquire such evidence.
“As a man serving in law enforcement, we should assume that there are cameras watching us 24/7 from the moment we get into our cars,” Congdon said.
On the other hand, the negative effects of having cameras from a resident’s perspective would be things such as privacy issues and concerns including: who will be managing them, and what will the costs be for the residents?
Congdon said security cameras may not directly make Campustown a safer area but they may make students think twice about making foolish decisions.
“Having been a student of ISU, what I see now is similar to what I saw then with young men and women making stupid decisions when they consume alcohol," Congdon said. “It may not stop them from making those decisions but it may help them think twice before participating in those activities.”
Reaching out to ISU students is important for the city to understand their opinions.
“I think it’s a good idea; it would protect people and help if there were serious investigations after an event,” said Max Najlis, freshman in engineering. “People might complain about privacy but it would still protect them.”
Erin Otte, open-option freshman, thinks privacy concerns should be weighed more heavily than the potential additional safety.
“I think it would be weird to have cameras in Campustown," she said. "It makes me uncomfortable thinking that there are direct cameras watching me."