Hunter College Security: Cautious or Careless?Hunter College Security: Cautious or Careless?
Students and staff debate on the role of campus security
Is Hunter College security overstepping its authority? According to Professor Gregg Morris, the Hunter Word’s faculty editor, his students claim that security uses questionable tactics to enforce unclear regulations.
Morris reports that sophomore Genco Koprulu, a film major, was intimidated by Hunter security while taking pictures on campus. Though the online copy of public safety regulations does not specifically site policies on recording devices, he claims that security guards are told to confront students who take pictures. In this case, five security guards surrounded Koprulu, and proceeded to take his camera and delete the recorded data.
Koprulu had the security guards call their supervisor. As campus rules state, he was allowed to keep his camera but was told that, in the future, he should be discrete about taking pictures on campus.
Morris says he has seen this behavior from campus security before. He claims that he has been stopped four times, also for camera use. In two of the instances he waited for the supervisor, who responded similarly to the supervisor in Koprulu’s case. However, the supervisor in these cases also sounded more apologetic, seemingly admitting that his staff had committed some wrongdoing. In one of the other instances, Morris confronted security personnel, who told him that they were just following orders.
Morris believes that there may be a bigger issue at stake. “Hunter policy is that picture taking is allowed but someone with influence and power has decided to suborn that policy for reasons that are not made known to the Hunter community,” he stated over the Hunter Listserv.
Hunter Professor Kelly Anderson believes that these security tactics make things more difficult for students.
“During film and media classes we often tell students to go out and film for practice or for their student projects. It makes it very difficult for the students to complete their assignments if they are stopped by security, and it's quite frustrating for both students and the faculty that told them to go out and film. If the policy is that they are allowed to shoot, then let them do so!,” she said in a follow up to Morris’ message.
Hunter College’s Executive Director of Marketing & Communications, Meredith Halpern, maintains that there is no cause for concern. “While there is no prohibition against taking photographs on the Hunter campus, security personnel will, from time to time, make inquiries in the interests of public safety,” Halpern stated.
Allegedly, taking pictures is not the only act that has been met with disapproval. International Socialist Organization member David Julian Guerrero claims that, during a protest of the NSA outside Chanin Language Center, while passing out fliers and holding posters, security approached members of the organization and said they were not permitted to stand where they were.
Guerrero didn’t know why they were being asked to move. “We weren’t bothering anybody, we weren’t making any noise, we were just handing out fliers and standing there with posters,” he said. They were then told that they could hand out fliers, but that displaying posters was prohibited.
Upon asking what regulation the group was in violation of, Guerrero was told he would have to consult with the dean’s office. The students were then told to go to student services. Student services stated no such regulation existed and the ISO members were referred back to security.
Speaking on the matter, Guerrero stated that, “there is s a sense of campus security really trying to give us the runaround, there is a sense of campus security trying to shut us up, or trying to shut us down.”
Halpern affirmed that security is simply being cautious in these matters. In an email Halpern stated, “It is a fact of life in this post 9/11 era that security personnel must always act on the side of caution.”