Editor’s Note: The letter below was written by Dean of Students Julie Ramsey in response to the August 24, 2017 Gettysburgian editorial about the college’s Unauthorized Recording policy. The stated purpose of the response is to provide additional clarity to the community about the policy and the College’s enforcement of the policy.
First and foremost, the policy was created to protect students from unwanted recordings, videos, and photos where students have a reasonable expectation to privacy. Unfortunately, we live in a society where individuals have taken recordings without permission and used them inappropriately. We had incidents on our own campus where recordings made without permission harmed other students. We hope to stop these incidents from occurring. It is a violation of Pennsylvania state law to make an audio recording of another person without their knowledge.
As the policy states, students can reasonably expect privacy in their residential facilities, classrooms, meetings spaces, office spaces, recreational spaces, locker rooms and restrooms. Members of our community do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in public spaces or at public events. This includes public spaces located inside (e.g. CUB, Dining, Library) and public spaces located outside (e.g. sidewalks, quads, athletic events).
Additionally, what makes a recording unauthorized is the lack of proper consent. Any uncertainty about where a recording can take place or who can be recorded can be resolved by simply asking for permission. Further, the Communications and Marketing Office, which was referenced in the editorial, employs a practice of seeking verbal consent before photos or videos are taken during times when there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The College does not permit the recording of searches conducted by DPS. Students are typically present for searches and we normally ensure a member of residence life is present. We encourage students to speak directly to the Gettysburg Police Department if they have questions about recording interactions with the police.
Finally, the Unauthorized Recording policy will be enforced as the result of complaints made by students or other members of our community. If students feel they have been recorded in a space where they had a reasonable expectation of privacy, they should bring that concern to our attention.
In closing, the Unauthorized Recording policy was constructed to protect students from recordings and not restrict their social means of interacting. Each of us should expect to be fully informed if we are being recorded in a private space. The Student Life Committee, a group comprised of faculty, students and administrators, developed this policy to ensure privacy for members of our community. If there is additional feedback about the policy, SLC would be willing to listen to concerns from any student.
If you have any questions or concerns, please email the Student Life Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean Julie Ramsey