Who’s Watching You?


Security camera graphic. Created by Gage Dabulis.

Carly Busfield, Howl Editor

350 surveillance cameras capture nearly every move on campus, inside and out. Since 2019, the BU Police has spent nearly $175,000 towards on-campus surveillance equipment.  

From a simple walk outside, running to class, to leaving to go out at night, these regular habits are all recorded whether or not students and faculty are aware. Security cameras are intended to provide safety, proof, and awareness if any frightful instance were to occur.   

The on-site security cameras collect plenty of information, but it’s unclear how they keep students safe. A request for public open records on this information was first denied. In response, an amended Right-To-Know Law form was submitted, and the requested information was granted in return.   

According to Mary Vezendy, the Right-To-Know Officer, there are approximately 200 security cameras maintained indoors on-campus and 150 outside on-campus.  

The BU police department consists of 20 police officers, and the security surveillances are monitored in-house within the police department. 

According to university budget figures, the current police budget of Commonwealth University is $1,605,037.81. This budget reflects all locations such as Bloomsburg, Mansfield, and Lock Haven.  

The annual cost of licensing and maintaining software is $12,774. This is funded by the IT budget and is not included in the $35,000 allotted annually for surveillance equipment in addition to the upkeep and expansion of cameras. 

Olivia Antonucci, student worker within Admissions within the Arts & Administration building, shares there is no camera within the office. Students, faculty, and the public frequent this area often for tours and events.

However, there is a camera within the upper area of the Andruss Library that shares live quad feed which Admissions has access to.

Editors of The Voice question the information collected via the security camera within their own office, since it is an independent publication. Certainly, recording sound within a newsroom stirs up some query from the student journalists.

Ramon A. Welkom, the Chief of Police for the Bloomsburg campus, was recently notified of the mysterious filming device within the office. “We do not install or maintain the cameras.  Unfortunately I have no idea that a camera was installed there.” The response steered nowhere near an answer. 

Ramon A. Welkom was initially contacted regarding getting more information on how these devices keep us safe. Welkom then forward the request for this information from Tom McGuire, the Senior Director of Strategic Communications.  

Due to safety concerns and the desire not to compromise where the cameras are specifically located, the university may be unable to provide too much information on the cameras.  

McGuire provided a copy of last year’s annual safety report, and a list of providing the locations of all call boxes on-campus. There are currently 53 call boxes accessible around campus for dire situations.