Capilano devises a privacy policy for all those cameras

After years of having surveillance cameras on campus, Capilano University is in the process of approving a video surveillance policy to meet Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation requirements regarding privacy protection.

The drafted policy, dated March 11th, 2010, states that the policy has been developed because “the University recognizes the need to strike a balance between the individual’s right to be free from invasion of privacy, the institution’s duty to promote a safe environment for community members, and to protect University property.”

There are approximately ten cameras set up around the University at present – they record video but not audio. VP of Finance and Administration Cindy Turner, who has taken responsibility for the project, stated that “we don't expect there to be a whole lot more cameras [installed].”

According to the policy, cameras could be installed on any University owned or occupied area, and signage must indicate that cameras are present. Precise locations need not be released. A privacy review must also be conducted before cameras can be installed.

Turner added that the policy will ensure stringent regulations are followed. For each camera, an outline of all the details will be provided, including where it will be, how long it will remain there, and what will be done with the footage. “We [need to] make sure to absolutely erase and protect the privacy of people as much as we can.”

The tapes may only be viewed by campus security, University employees with direct involvement with the footage, and individuals responsible for authorizing camera installation and technical operations.

The policy is aimed at deterring acts of harassment, assault, vandalism, and theft. In the past two years, the Capilano Students Union (CSU) lounge has been broken into several times. However, Ian Robertson, Director of Building and Grounds told the Courier last year that any incidents of concern on campus “have been domestic disputes.”

Turner echoed that statement, noting that the cameras are largely directed at theft prevention.

There may be “a few more” cameras installed in the parking lots, as recommended by the Risk Management company working with the University, due to the incidence of bike thefts and car-keying.

The policy is currently undergoing an approval process, and has been sent to the various University related unions: the Faculty Association, the Coalition of Private Electors, and the CSU.

The CSU has, for their part, expressed a certain degree of concern with some of the details of the policy.

At the CSU Executive Committee meeting on March 26th, several points were raised regarding holes or inconsistencies in the policy. It was pointed out that the idea of “covert” cameras do not seem to be in conjunction with the policy's stated purpose of prevention. It was also deemed problematic that the authorization processes for cameras are to be approved by only “the Vice-President, Finance and Administration or designate,” with no committee involved, and no indication as to who that designate might be.

The executive committee also agreed to send a list of recommendations to the University, largely centered around keeping the CSU “in the loop” and emphasizing that the Maple building is under CSU control, and that any potential cameras in that space should be approved by the CSU.

Turner noted that “the students need to see it ... so that everybody feels comfortable that when we do put up cameras for security purposes or for [creating a time-lapse of the] film building that there's still good policy and we're not going to invade somebody's privacy and we're not going to use it ... to embarrass somebody ... that's not the intention and we are not permitted under law.”

If students have any questions or concerns about the policy, they should be directed to Val Newman in Human Resources, Patrick Donahoe, VP of Student and Institutional Support or the CSU. His email is

//Natalie Corbo
News Editor

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