Perched on a bench with headphones plugged in her ears, Rebecca Daniel, 20, a mass media student of St Xavier’s College, generally sits oblivious to the buzzing crowd in the college foyer, till the moment her eyes focus on the closed circuit television (CCTV) camera fixed on the nearby pillar.
“I do have these ‘Big Boss’ moments very often, when I imagine Father watching me on his TV monitor, making note of my missing identity card or my sleeveless top,” said Daniel, adding that her friends often reassure her that “Father would not be watching the screen every minute” and “the foyer is too crowded for him to notice you”.
To Daniel’s dismay, Father Frazer, principal of St Xavier’s College, does pay close attention to the camera footage and even ensures that students, who are caught on camera, are pulled up for their misbehaviour.
“We have the cameras fixed at the main gate, the library, the corridors, and in the foyer,” said Frazer, adding that the TV sets are installed in his room, from where he keeps a constant vigil. “The cameras have been set up primarily for security reasons; and also, to instill discipline in the minds of the teenagers,” he added.
CCTV cameras are a common sight at most city colleges nowadays. But with the cameras mounted on fixed locations, students have “adjusted” their behaviour for life under the constant camera glare. Campus couples seem to be worse hit, with public-display of affection moving to spy-free zones.
“Having studied in the college for the last two years, we know the tiny pockets in the campus that are not guarded by cameras, and we hang out there for hours together,” said a commerce undergraduate student requesting anonymity. “We find several class couples spending ‘quality time’ in these ‘safe’ areas, without the fear of being caught on camera,” he grinned.
“Students who have decided to flout college rules will do so anyway, without the fear of getting caught,” said Kirti Narain, principal, Jai Hind College. “We have received a tremendous response in terms of the overall discipline within the college campus,” said Narain, who will be shifting the TV monitors from the supervisor’s room to her cabin this summer. “The cameras in the library have been the most useful, since earlier on, there used to be regular pilferage of books, which used to go completely unnoticed,” added Narain.
For Garima Sahani, 19, the absence of cameras in the classroom has spared her classroom snooze. “I will be punished outside the principal’s office if there were cameras in my class, because there are certain afternoon lectures that cannot be endured,” she said with a grin.
In January, girl students of the Government Law College at Churchgate, succeeded in getting a CCTV camera installed in their common room removed. The budding lawyers cited the act as an “invasion of their privacy” firmly drawing the line between the need for security and prying.