Hunter Public Safety Up to Its Old Yes-No Tricks

Hunter Security Officer telling student that he can't videotape on school property

Hunter Campus Safety Officer  telling student early in the start of the fall semester  that he can’t videotape on school property.

Should the Princeton Review be alerting prospective film, art and journalism students that Hunter students are subject to harassment if they try to take pictures and video on campus?

The unwritten policy for members of the Hunter community who want to take pictures or video on campus is this: It is allowed and has been the unwritten but recognized policy for several years. I confirmed this with the head of security. Yet, more than a year ago, after several unpleasant interactions with Hunter security officers, I learned that security officers were being ordered to harass anyone taking pictures/video on campus, that they were suppose to state that pictures and video weren’t allowed.

If the person being harassed demanded to talk to a supervisor, however, the supervisor was to tell the person that members of the Hunter community could take pictures/video.

I posted an notice of this duplicity on the Hunter-L listserv, along with the picture, right, of several Campus Safety Officers trying to intimidate a film student who was told that he wasn’t allowed to take pictures. The student asked for a supervisor who told him that he could take pictures but he shouldn’t.campus-security

The posting got mixed reviews (even a looney one from the D:F/M Deputy Chair Kelly Anderson) but overall there was surprise about the practice. And there was an impression that the harassment would stop.

Well, Public Safety is up to its old tricks. That is, Public Safety Officers are being told to interdict, interrupt and intimidate. I regard this as a Princeton Review Moment. That is, someone should notify the Review that students enrolling in Hunter will be subjected to harassment from Public Safety if they try to exercise their rights to take pictures and video on campus.  Check this out.

Early this semester, I took the picture below: blog-securityA Hunter sophomore, a film student, with camera was approached early in the afternoon by a Public Safety Officer who, the student said, told him he couldn’t shoot video in front of the West Building. The student was putting his camera away as the PSO walked away and I caught up with The PSO as he was talking to a PS Sargent and Louis Mader, Director of Public Safety. “Why did you tell that student he couldn’t take pictures,” I asked (because College policy allows Hunterites to shoot pictures and video on and around campus).

The PSO who told the student he couldn’t take pictures told me that he told the student that he could take pictures. “That’s not what the student told me,” I said. The PSO insisted that he told the student that he could take pictures. The PS Sargent told me that Hunterites can take pictures on campus and that they are asked for ID sometimes to make sure that they’re Hunterites.

Oh, I said, so the policy is that Hunterites can take pictures. Yes, the PSO and the PS Sargent and Louis Mader said and they all started laughing.

“Well,” I lied, “if the policy says Hunterites can take pictures, then you won’t have any problems with me.” We all laughed.

Just a few weeks ago, I got into a big argument with Public Safety Officers about my taking pictures in the West Building. Several kept interfering when I was trying to take pictures and I got upset, which I usually don’t do when dealing with cops and security officers. The idea is to remain cool. I tried.

I tried citing them the unwritten policy, which their boss, Louis Mader, had earlier confirmed and then I cited First Amendment issues, common sense issues and others and each time my argument was brushed aside I got angry. At one point, a Public Safety Officer told me to stop shouting. When I get excited my voice rises. I lowered it an octave and then I got angry and loud again until I saw Louis Mader walk pass and I went to confront him. He was not happy but confirmed with the officer who had accompanied me that I could take pictures.

When I went back to resume taking pictures, the officers started interfering again and that’s when I realize the nonsense of the situation. So, I backed off, became apologetic and left. I decided not to post on Hunter-l because I’m probably the only one on campus taking this duplicity seriously.

So, I decided on this. Be patient. Wait for them to screw up and then sue the bastards.

More about this later.

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