A security camera behind a plastic cover.

Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

Even when secured by plastic bubbles, Ganedago Hall's security cameras have been repeatedly reported stolen.

April 27, 2022

Following Multiple Arson Incidents, Ganędagǫ: Hall Ups Security

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In the short time that it has been open to students, Ganędagǫ: Hall has had a turbulent history. From frequent late night fire alarms, to a mice infestation and several arson incidents, residents have faced many unexpected challenges during the 2021-2022 academic year.

As a response to the damaging arson incidents, security cameras have been installed in the hallways of Ganędagǫ: and Cornell University Police have begun patrolling the residence hall. These measures have elicited mixed reactions from residents. While some feel a sense of security, others expressed concern over armed police patrolling the dorm.

“These careless and selfish actions must stop,” Vice President Ryan Lombardi and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Joanne DeStefano wrote in an email sent to Ganędagǫ: residents on March 25. “Our campus public safety experts have come together to put a number of supplemental security protocols and new measures in place, including a regular presence in the building by uniformed Cornell University Police Department (CUPD) officers.” 

The email was a response to a serious fire in a third floor trash room on March 19. 

According to Calista Bordador ’25, the security cameras, which greeted residents after they returned from spring break, are generally located next to the building’s exit signs, which have been frequently stolen.

However, the security cameras themselves are also not safe from theft. Carol Newman-Rivera ’25 said that at least one camera had somehow been stolen, despite being protected behind a plastic bubble.

“I don’t know how someone would have stolen that [without revealing their identity] because you would have had to come in front of the camera to take it,” Newman-Rivera said. 

Gabriella Prantl ’25 said she appreciated that the cameras are angled away from lounges, watching trash rooms and kitchen entrances instead, providing some privacy to residents. 

“I think the cameras should stay up because they’re not invading people’s privacy at all,” Prantl said. 

Bordador also noted that the microwaves in hall kitchens have been taken away by the residential hall’s administration multiple times due to fire alarms being purposefully set off. This inconvenienced her suitemates, so she allowed them to use her personal microwave in the meantime. 

Prantl believes that the microwaves and stove tops were barred from use for too long, being unavailable for most of the spring semester. 

“I understand that they had to prevent the fire alarm from going off at 4 a.m., but it’s punishing the whole building when there’s only a few people doing it,” Prantl said.

Some residents feel uneasy about the presence of police officers in the building. Newman-Rivera said she feels safer knowing the risk of arson has dropped but acknowledged that other students may be unnerved due to the police. 

“The policemen are clearly armed and it does make me uncomfortable, and I know it makes a lot of other people uncomfortable,” Newman-Rivera said. “I don’t think they need to have guns.”

This sentiment was shared by Prantl, who said she often sees the police walk by when she studies in the lounges during the evening and agreed that they make some residents feel uncomfortable.

“I don’t think the police should be walking around a college dorm. Especially since all of them are carrying guns, I don’t think guns should be in a college dorm at all,” Prantl said. 

Some Ganędagǫ: residents felt that more preventative action should have been taken against arson incidents. While the late night fires have frustrated students for months, cameras were only installed a few weeks ago. 

“I feel like the cameras, the reason it took so long for them to be put up, is because Cornell is really cheap,” Newman-Rivera said. “I think they should be doing stuff earlier, when [the arson incidents] start, rather than allowing it to get to the point it did.” 

Bordador also wished the cameras were installed earlier. She said it was unfortunate that Ganędagǫ: has become infamous for arson, but expressed appreciation for the opportunity to live there.

“I love Ganędagǫ:. I wish this didn’t happen because it’s a nice building,” Bordador said. “I’m very lucky to be one of the first residents.”