Following news of video cameras being hidden in various women’s restrooms around the University of Delaware campus, female students showed an overwhelmingly positive reaction to yet another threat to their privacy and personal security. The cameras, which were installed by a doctoral student, recorded students in public bathrooms for two years until their discovery and removal in July.
Many women are “very excited” that this has come to light, according to Lily Campbell, a senior. “The threat of sexual exploitation is rampant on campus, but thanks to this two-year stretch of continuous voyeurism, it exists literally everywhere,” she said. “I was starting to worry they left some spaces uncovered.”
Sophomore Sylvia Thompson said, “I was getting nervous about how people thought of me, whether I was viewed as a real person or just an object. Now that a stranger has watched me pee, I can know for sure that I’m only here for other people to look at.”
Students all over campus are excited as to what the discovery of the systematic invasion of privacy means to them and the school community as a whole. “Incidences like this are fun and productive because they get the conversation going,” said junior Sofia Hanson, member of the feminist UD groups SAGE and V-Day. “Back when it was just gender discrimination and sexual harassment, it was the same thing over and over. The meetings were starting to get repetitive. It’s a good thing we have new material to talk about or being a feminist would be so boring.”
Susan Farias, a mother of an incoming freshman, told The Black Sheep she “was worried about sending my daughter to the University of Delaware. I had heard about the Title IX lawsuit it is facing for mishandling a sexual assault case, but I now feel safe and reassured knowing that security cameras are everywhere. What other school offers such complete surveillance?”
Junior Carolyn Morado said that the female student body, one-fifth of which will be sexually assaulted before graduation, is excited for this new threat to their personal security. “I know that my body is always in danger, but the way that it is needed some diversification. Like the word ‘rape’ just got really repetitive, you know? Now we have this to bring to the mix,” she added.
Males students like Ethan Rubenstein say they are increasingly jealous of stories of the sexual exploitation of women. “Girls always worry about five thousand different things, but at the end of the day, they get to put it all to rest,” Rubenstein told The Black Sheep. “It’s not fair, you know? Like, I want a metaphorical list of daily worries that I can check off. I want that relief of getting home safely after a party, knowing that I survived thousands of life-crushing, crippling fears!”
Jane Menendez, a doctoral student who worked in the Delaware Biotechnological Institute where the original camera was discovered, said, “It’s fun and interesting to be part of a new, uncommon form of violating the rights to my own body. I came here to do research and make new discoveries, and now I got to participate in this other unique project while I pooped during my lunch breaks. Dare to be first!”
According to women’s studies professor Carol Cooke, events like these offer valuable opportunities for academics. “A lot of times as a professor, we write about things dealing with underprivileged women that we don’t actually know or experience. Being unwillingly taken advantage of in a bathroom right next to my office has brought ethos to my work that no doctorate degree can offer,” she said.
For Lily Campbell, the university’s response to the scandal was greeted with mixed emotion. “I feel much safer knowing that this routine offense has been brought to a full stop and that an institute of higher education is taking steps to protect its female students,” she reported. “It’s weird. I don’t like it.”