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Laundry room security cameras proposed

By Sean MulliganSTAFF WRITER

Nearly a year after four Hofstra men’s basketball players were arrested on charges of burglary and theft from their fellow classmates and neighbors, students still feel that their belongings are not as protected as they could be.

Students have voiced their concerns about the safety of their possessions on the Suggestions@Hofstra Facebook page. The page, which is run by Hofstra’s Student Government Association (SGA), allows students to post about issues that they’ve encountered while attending Hofstra that relate to the dining and residence halls, buildings and grounds and campus activities.

Molly Sestak, senior public relations major, initially posted on the SGA page earlier this month about her recent experience with her laundry being stolen.

“Someone stole a towel with my name embroidered on it. I don’t know why someone would want to steal a towel with my name on it,” said Sestak.

Sestak has experienced this situation before. On three other occasions she has had her clothing stolen from the laundry room while her clothes were in the washer.

On the Suggestions@Hofstra page, Jennifer Bull stated that her roommate experienced similar problems with laundry being stolen and expressed support for the installation of cameras in laundry rooms.

Sestak also believed that cameras should be installed in all laundry rooms across campus.

“I think [Hofstra] should put cameras in. I’ve talked to people about it. Everyone thinks it’s really expensive, but I just feel more comfortable,” said Sestak. “I’d feel more comfortable if there were cameras in the laundry rooms, and it really wouldn’t increase our tuition that much.”

This idea has garnered support on the Suggestions@Hofstra page where commenters, like student Taylor Marie, discussed the idea of cameras earlier this month.

“I’m worried about my laundry too because it seems like the tower laundry rooms are constantly getting stolen from,” she wrote on the page. “Cameras in the laundry rooms would really solve the problem.”

Patrick Tierney, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee in SGA and senior political science major, has mixed feelings about the installation of cameras.

“I think everyone should also be aware that it is unrealistic to expect these cameras to be monitored 24/7, and [the cameras] would serve more to record and be looked back on. That being said, cameras in some places like the laundry rooms, where students have to leave their belongings unattended, might be useful as both a deterrent and as evidence,” said Tierney.

Karen O’Callaghan, director of Public Safety, wondered where else Hofstra should put security cameras if they were installed in laundry rooms.

“I think we need to be careful about how far we go with that, because I don’t think most students would feel comfortable with security cameras everywhere on campus,” O’Callaghan said.

She stated that the issue is small in comparison to the fact that nearly 7,000 undergraduates walk the campus daily and that it’s not likely that cameras would be installed.

Last month, The Chronicle’s Public Safety Briefs reported three separate occasions of laundry being stolen in the issues published on Oct. 3 and 17. However, O’Callaghan believes that laundry theft is not a prevalent issue on campus.

“We don’t have a big problem with [theft of students’] laundry. Probably each semester we see it a couple of times. It’s probably going to be a big expense to [install cameras] for not a big problem that we have,” said O’Callaghan.

The Director of Public Safety said that they have already installed over 250 cameras on campus and will only install cameras inside the laundry rooms for special situations.

“If we see a pattern, sometimes we do install a camera, but I think I’ve seen two reports of a student that has had laundry stolen. But if we do see a persistent problem sometimes we do install a camera,” said O’Callaghan. “Sometimes we install a covert camera in a public place, which that would be considered.”

O’Callaghan and Tierney both believe that it’s the student’s responsibility when it comes to the safety of their belongings. In particular, O’Callaghan pointed towards the fact that most thefts on campus are crimes of opportunity due to lockers not being locked, cars not being locked and laundry being left unattended.

Tierney said that his fellow students need to be more mindful of how they take care of their expensive belongings.

“Students have to be aware that leaving their belongings unattended makes them vulnerable to theft, and they should take appropriate precautions,” said Tierney.

As for Sestak, she said that while students need to be more mindful of their things, all students should still respect other people’s belongings.

“You know people spend $50,000 going to this school each year, and it’s really upsetting that people have to steal from people who may have spent all of their money on tuition. And now, on top of that, they have to spend more money replacing their stolen items,” said Sestak.

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