Over five decades ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tugged on the heartstrings of Americans at the March on Washington, compelling them to act by describing the “fierce urgency of now.” Social change—whether significant or small—is enacted when people demand it and when doing so is a necessity rather than a luxury or preference. When people utilize their voices and emphasize an issue, it receives attention. When a problem is not prioritized on the agenda, it will slip through the cracks.

Last semester, I found myself increasingly discouraged with the way Duke handled on-campus crimes. Although Central Campus security was doubled after the armed robbery on Sept. 2, another burglary occurred in close proximity to the prior incident barely a month later. This week, a Duke student was robbed at gunpoint; not even two months ago, a fatal shooting occurred blocks from East Campus. Each time I receive a DukeAlert describing another sexual assault, a pit in my stomach emerges. Following the death threat targeted at freshman Jack Donahue and hate crimes directed at black students, frequent protests on the quad began to feel like the norm. Beyond the initial Clery Act notification, students are not often provided with additional information regarding Duke’s responses to these crimes.

Security is a basic right that college students expect. Greater accountability must exist on Duke’s campus, and installation of security cameras outside residential buildings would mark a step in this direction. Recurring concerns and new safety measures were seriously discussed at an Academic Council meeting last Thursday. According to Larry Moneta, Vice President of Student Affairs, the proposal for residential cameras is on the administration’s radar for the future and the DSG Senate passed a resolution of support last night. Security cameras have played a pivotal role in solving campus investigations on other college campuses. However, some argue that insufficient evidence exists to show cameras significantly deter crime, especially regarding incidents that occur within a dorm room, like sexual assaults. Others feel that cameras threaten students’ personal privacy and liberties.

If cameras were installed solely on the exterior of residential buildings, they would capture footage of only public spaces. Whether we are aware or not, our whereabouts are constantly tracked; not only do we compromise our privacy via metadata collection on smartphones, but the DukeCard system also provides information about students’ whereabouts based on where we swipe. Our generation constantly reveals our locations through Snapchat and Instagram, but suddenly we feel threatened by a camera monitoring the entrance to a residential building? Are we truly concerned enough about this now-coveted privacy that we would forego security?

Adele Kimmel, a Senior Attorney that frequently handles Title IX cases, says camera footage can show the physical condition or level of intoxication of an alleged sexual assault victim. “In sexual assault cases on campuses, more often than not, the perpetrator is an acquaintance. Seeing who enters and exits may corroborate or disprove a suspect’s alibi, but the footage can depict if the victim is being carried or is stumbling and falling—clear signals that he or she was unable to give consent to sexual activity.” While camera footage comprises just one piece of the puzzle, any concrete evidence is beneficial.

With Duke’s massive budget, it is difficult to cite funding as an obstacle to this security proposal. The Board of Trustees approved a $2.3 billion budget for 2015-16. While camera systems are costly, Moneta acknowledges that funding would not solely prevent the administration from undertaking this project. Administrators must weigh the effectiveness of cameras against other safety measures, like adding police staff or introducing programs that utilize RAs and PACT training. Moneta identifies Duke’s vast campus as an element that impedes quick fixes. “I used to work at the University of Pennsylvania, whose student body is similarly sized but contained on a smaller campus. UPenn has approximately fifteen doors to residential buildings, so installing security cameras could be a much swifter undertaking. Duke has about 500 entrances to residential buildings; as a result, even simple measures like switching locks are time-intensive.” While supportive of installing cameras, Moneta says this type of policy requires multiple components and will not undertake the project until those needs can be addressed. Administrators would need to regularly verify the cameras are working, develop procedures to process footage and address ongoing maintenance costs. When developing protocol, Duke could look to Elon University’s security camera program as an example, which balances increased safety with privacy rights. Elon’s video footage is only available to police officers and is not monitored in real time. It is extracted for review on an as-needed basis in response to specific investigations; administrators aren’t looking to “catch” students who aren’t committing serious crimes.

Duke invested $494 million this year for projects including a new Student Health and Wellness Center, an engineering and physics facility, renovations to the R. David Thomas Center, West Campus Union, Perkins Library and Wallace Wade Stadium. If the administration can prioritize investment in facilities that aesthetically enhance Duke’s campus now, there is no reason it cannot improve our safety with equally deliberate speed. Although safety measures cannot be advertised on brochures or touted to attract prospective students, they are no less important. How many burglaries, hate crimes or robberies must occur until security and accountability become the most pressing concerns? By the time that DukeAlert shuffles to the bottom of our email accounts and chatter surrounding an incident dissipates, we quickly return to a state of normalcy. Although I expect another alert to surface soon, another reminder should not be necessary in order to continue the discourse.

Even if cameras deter just one crime, they at least accomplish something. This policy would also serve as a symbolic gesture for increased commitment to security. I appreciate that Duke wants to address safety with ample planning, but developing a perfect solution could take years, and we should not idly wait. While the administration pursues long-term solutions, it also upholds an obligation to create effective short-term measures. Unlike many divisive challenges, this issue threatens every single person on campus—students, faculty and administrators alike—regardless of race, sexuality or gender. We all deserve to feel safe on the campus for which we pay to learn, live and grow. Security measures should not be pushed to the back burner; we need to heighten attention on this issue by creating a fiercer sense of urgency. Change tomorrow is commendable, but we must strive for action today.

Update: This column was updated to clarify Kimmel's quote.

Carly Stern is a Trinity sophomore. Her column runs on alternate Thursdays.