Cal State Northridge officials said that a newly adopted policy of routinely videotaping political demonstrations on campus does not violate privacy rights.
CSUN President James W. Cleary said that the videotaping of such events is standard and a longstanding procedure on other state university and college campuses.
The purpose of videotaping, as stated in CSUN's new Department of Public Safety policy, is to provide protection to all individuals at an event that has the potential for violence or disruption of the normal operation of the campus.
Videotaping will be in plain view by a non-uniformed officer in a public setting, thus respecting First Amendment rights, according to the policy. Videotaping of events in any other setting will only be done with the permission of those involved.
The policy also states that it is not the department's objective to videotape a whole event, but only to record enough to get an idea of an event's size and its potential to threaten individual or university safety.
Some professors said the videotaping of past campus demonstrations may have caused a chilling effect on the crowd.
"I don't think it's that big a deal. It doesn't bother me that much. I don't think the FBI will be knocking on my door," said Denise Renee, president of CSUN's Coalition on Middle East Peace, an activist group on campus.
"Demonstrations are seen as negative. I think it's important for the people videotaping to understand the goals of the demonstrators," she said.
The videotapes, protected by the California Evidence Code access requirements, will be kept by the Department of Public Safety for one year, unless they can aid in potential criminal prosecution. Then, they may be stored longer.
The videotapes also may be used by the Department of Public Safety to train officers in proper police behavior and methods during a campus demonstration.
Public safety officials said they would comment on the policy when it is explained at a meeting of the Faculty Senate on March 21.