The UAA campus could soon be considered a safer place at night. That is if three students have their wish granted.
Resident Life student employees Brittany Richards, Robert Tran and Brionne Elkins are the motor behind the motion to do just that.
According to Elkins, the three of them had started brainstorming about what could make campus housing more secure after noticing the trend of break-ins in the parking lots around campus. Elkins said the solution was simple: cameras.
“Initially, we wanted cameras around the residential halls, because that is where we saw the problem,” Elkins said.
Together Tran, Elkins, and Richards took their idea to the student government. The magnitude of financial support needed, however, was more than what USUAA Student Government was willing to allocate.
“USUAA doesn’t have the funding for this kind of project,” Elkins said.
Associate director of Housing Wayne Morrison said he agreed with the call for cameras.
Morrison said that the problem was that Resident Life didn’t have the funding for this kind of project either. The total cost was estimated to be in the ballpark of $300,000.
Morrison said he recommended the students speak to the University Police Department, who were already considering a similar motion. He said UPD Chief Pitman was aiming to install a standardized campus-wide camera system.
Detective Mike Beckner said that getting cameras up was a high priority for the department. There have been 12 reported car burglaries in Resident Halls so far this school year, all-occurring between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m.
“As the days get shorter, the crime rates get higher,” Beckner said.
Beckner said that on-campus crimes happen mostly in the winter, which in Anchorage means the majority of the school year. The road to making this happen could potentially be long. It is a capital project, said Beckner, and will have to be reviewed by the Board of Regents.
Once the Board of Regents approves the capital budget, it then will go to Gov. Sarah Palin and await her signature of approval. From there it will go to the legislature for one last round. The process can take months, if not longer.
Beckner said cameras would be a good deterrent for criminals. Where the funding will come from is the crux of the issue.
Morrison said the residence halls would likely serve as a test model for the surveillance as they are a high crime area.
What started as a grass-roots movement initiated by three students with a desire to protect their residence halls has become a campus-wide project.
That does not mean that it is out of the hands of the students who have been working for it. The three will now have to change their focus to getting a bill through.
“Now that the UPD is involved, we have to go back to the drawing board,” Elkins said, “We want to go through with it and rally behind it.”