Male students of Dharam Samaj Degree College in Aligarh, India were caught off-guard when they discovered surveillance cameras hidden inside their comfort rooms.
The cameras were installed in each of the three male restrooms in the building complex where college entrance examinations are being held. According to the administration of the government-funded college, the intention was to better monitor students and discourage potential cheating in exams.
Subhash Choudhary, lead proctor of the college, said that toilets were full of hidden notes used for cheating.
An uproar from the male students ensued soon after the discovery, noting that the act was an invasion of their privacy. In an interview with The Indian Express, Hem Prakash Gupta, the newly-appointed principal of the school, denied ever committing this offense. He noted that the CCTV cameras were placed “in the farthest corner of the urinals, which only captures the backs of students,” further claiming that this was only similar to how people see men “relieving themselves on roads in public.”
Prakash added that the cameras were only fixed in urinals and not rooms where students change clothes. Furthermore, he said that the plan to install cameras was legally consulted.
Prior to fixing surveillance cameras, the school administration also employed other methods of monitoring the student body in pursuit of lowering the incidents of cheating. They assembled teams specifically tasked to follow students to the loos and ensure that no cheating occurs. However, students reportedly managed to bypass these attempts.
The Education Monitoring Committee of the National Minority highly disapproves of the act. Dr. Manvendra Pratap Singh explained that this was in fact an extreme breach of the students’ privacy, and that this “overreaction” of the administration has to be withdrawn.
Many organizations expressed their dismay about the efforts of Dharam Samaj Degree College, stating that there are other ways to curb cheating. Youth collectives also said that they will be charging the school for this misconduct.
Even public surveillance cameras face criticism and are said to be an ineffective means of security. The American Civil Liberties Union has a live report on this very subject.
The worse can be expected for cameras installed in supposed private areas. Legal resources are also highly against the use of surveillance devices in private spaces such as comfort rooms, dressing rooms, hotel rooms, and the like.
Cheating may be a serious, widespread issue among school faculties, but no offense is worth risking someone’s privacy, as it remains to be their right. As said by most sources against this practice, there are various alternatives to secure order in a given environment.
Photo credit: Ron Knox via Flickr