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Peet, Bushnell receive increased surveillance in wake of crimes

Brad Star/The Round Table

In response to the series of hate crimes that have hit the school over the past week, Beloit College security has increased its presence on the residential wing of campus, particularly within Bushnell and Peet halls.

The first of the crimes was reported in the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 25, when two students informed security they had seen a swastika drawn on the dry erase board on the door of a Jewish student’s room on the second floor of Peet Hall. Then, on Friday, Jan. 27, a threatening note was placed under the same student’s door just before 11 p.m. The note read, “Kike, You should be gassed for what you say & do on this campus. Be worried CUNT” (the text emphasis is that of its author and not The Round Table). A swastika was drawn on the note as well. The Beloit Police Department was notified and continues to investigate the incident.

A supposed third hate crime took place during the early hours of Monday, Jan. 30, when a Beloit security officer discovered the words “Die,” “Sand nigger go home,” and “#muslimban” spray painted in red onto a Muslim student’s door on the second floor of Bushnell Hall. There was also a swastika spray painted on the wall across from the student’s door. This case was proven to be a hoax, however, as Beloit police found evidence leading to the arrest of Michael Kee’19– the student thought to be the target of the crime– who reportedly wrote the message himself in hopes of bringing the college community together.

In a campus-wide email, Director of Security Bruce Heine said that, as a result of these acts, “additional security staff have been put on duty and there will be increased patrols on the residential side of campus.”

Students have seen these increased security measures enacted over the past week. ID card access to the residential halls has been restricted; whereas students used to be able to to get into any building at any time before midnight, they can now only enter the building in which they live. A barricade has also been placed in the tunnels of the ’64 halls, meaning Peet Hall is not accessible from Blaisdell and Bushnell halls and vice versa. It is unknown at this time if these are permanent changes to residential hall accessibility.

Perhaps the most controversial feature of the enhanced security is the installation of security cameras in Peet Hall, where the hate crimes that are still being investigated occurred. Two cameras were installed in the lobby on the first floor, with one facing the bulletin board and the other facing the door, which is the main entrance (and the only entrance accessible via student ID) to the dormitory. Another camera was placed on the second floor near the scene of the hate crimes. There was reportedly talk regarding the installation of a camera on the second floor of Bushnell Hall, but this has yet to be seen.

In addition to the cameras, security officers have been making rounds in Peet Hall much more frequently than usual. There has also been at least one officer stationed down the hall from the scene of the hate crimes 24/7, presumably in protection of the targeted student. A security officer was placed near the scene of the crime in Bushnell Hall as well prior to the case’s conclusion.

The increased surveillance– particularly the implementation of security cameras– has caused unrest among some students, especially residents of Peet Hall. Gabriel Schaffner’18 started the conversation on the Beloit College Student Group on Facebook, saying that security cameras are “the wrong response entirely and a breach of student privacy.” A few others echoed the call for a different plan of action, but a majority of students seemed to be in favor of the cameras; some even urged the installation of security cameras in all dormitories.

“I feel safer with the cameras and I can’t think of any ways the cameras will affect me negatively,” Gabe Hersch’19 wrote. “After several robberies and a hate crime, I can’t say that Peet has earned the right to have its hallways go unmonitored.”

As with the rest of the increased surveillance, it is unclear at this point whether the security cameras are a permanent solution. However, with the campus still recovering from the events that have taken place over the past week, it is safe to assume they will remain in place for a significant period of time.

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