The installation of “CampusCam,” a live video feed of Schrock Plaza available online, garnered a mix of reactions from students and alumni when it was announced on the Goshen College Facebook page this Nov.
A common student response, both on and off the Facebook page, has been along the lines of “that’s creepy,” while other commenters noted the branches that obstruct the view or the slightly off-balance shot.
The live feed is available to anyone on the Goshen College Website at www.goshen.edu/pr/webcam.
“I just think it’s creepy,” said Natasha Weisenbeck, a junior public relations major.
Rachel Smucker, also a junior public relations major, said, “It’s a little creepy that it’s a live feed. I don’t understand why it has to be public.”
The camera was previously overlooking the construction of the underpass, but with that project done, the public relations office requested that the camera be moved to overlook a common thoroughfare.
Jodi Beyeler, assistant director of public relations, said that the intention was not for security or spying on students. “The primary intention,” she said, “was that alumni, parents, or friends of Goshen College would enjoy seeing what the campus looks like at different seasons or to see what was happening on campus.”
“Schrock Plaza is an iconic location on the campus [and] many people have memories connected to it,” said Beyeler.
Students concerned about the possibility of using the camera for security should know that PR was quick to say that there is no intention to record the live feed or archive it in any way.
Mike McHugh, academic systems manager for ITS media, confirmed that there was no intention to record the video and that, even if someone wanted one, “it wouldn’t be a very good security camera.”
Still, security doesn’t seem to be as much as an issue for students as the idea that anyone with Internet access can watch whatever is happening at Schrock Plaza.
Pat Lehman, professor of communication, said, “An ever present camera takes us down a slippery slope. I don’t like the idea of Big Brother watching us – whoever that might be.”
Smucker said, “It might rub people the wrong way – that it is available [to anyone].”
“It’s no different than any other college in the country,” said Glen Gilbert, utilities manager at the physical plant. “They all have webcams pointing at the center of their campuses.”
Beyeler said that if there were student concerns that the PR office would “be happy to be in conversation with Student Senate to look at this in a way that meets the needs of everyone in the community.”
And, of course, not all students are disturbed by the idea of a live feed. Martin Hofkamp, a junior PJCS major, said, “we should do a flash mob or something.”
Beyeler’s response: “That would be awesome.”