In you case didn’t clock it, the UWA Guild earlier in May passed a motion for the introduction of CCTV in our beloved campus watering hole, the Tav. This endorsement – as the wording made pretty clear – was contingent upon the later approval of a Use and Access policy. At the subsequent June Guild Meeting which took place a few Thursdays ago (and was filled for no good reason with about a hundred jokes about Mars Bars), such a policy was tabled and passed by a majority of council members. You can find the full document here.

One council member and a couple of proxies voted against the motion, but refrained from putting their case forward in a debate. This is as mysterious as any Guild Meeting gets.

The policy was put together by a team made up of Guild President Maddie Mulholland, Governance Chair Lucy Moyle, Treasurer Tom Burke and Tavern Manager Hayden Greenham, and is modelled on those operating in other state organisations and Australian universities – Monash and Griffith University in particular.

Described as an “incident management tool”, access to the CCTV system and footage will be restricted to Authorised Users – so named as the Guild Tavern Manager, the Guild Managing Director, or “another individual nominated by the Licensee” – i.e. the Guild. It’s state that “Authorised Users must have completed CCTV training and be conversant with this policy and applicable legislation.”

Rather than ogling your every move (your tipsy antics really aren’t that interesting), footage will only be viewed when an incident is actually reported. If you do intend to lodge a report though, make it at least 28 days following – the data will be most likely overwritten after this period.

External access applications can only be made by the Australian Federal Police, the WA Police and the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor, or through a Federal or WA Court order. Each time an application by one of these bodies is successful, Authorised Users have to report it at the next Council Meeting.

Crucially, the policy also stipulates that “CCTV must be protected from unauthorised viewing, copying, alteration, deletion and disclosure”. It’ll be the Tav Manager who’ll be in charge of that.

It is also laid out that “individuals may not request CCTV Footage of themselves, except through the above external bodies”. No free visuals of your 21st shenanigans then.

Keep in mind too that CCTV is just an image capturing tool. It doesn’t record audio. It doesn’t eavesdrop. Feel safe knowing your bestie-to-bestie conversations about how hot you are for your tutor will not go on any digital file. (Ned, you are no longer my Honours supervisor, but hey there – I love you).

You’ll be able to see the cameras too – the watchers can be watched. Human and machine meet each other on a level playing field here, relatively. With the devices located clearly at every entrance and exit, and signs all about the precinct, all in all patrons should never be unaware they are under surveillance.

In a direct statement to Pelican Magazine, Tavern Manager Mr. Greenham said that the Use and Access policy “strikes an appropriate balance between the need for the Tavern to protect its licence, staff and customers, but also allow for the utmost privacy of students who enjoy the Tavern and its atmosphere. There are very strict guidelines of who, why and when footage can be accessed and for what reason. Overall I think this will make the Tavern a safer environment for students for years to come, and from a licencing perspective, bring us into line with other venues in WA.”

Whichever side of the debate you’re situated, you won’t be under any unblinking eyes for a little while longer yet. Exams may have ended their campaign of terror a while back, with Red Bull dependency thereafter on the downward trend, but there were no celebrations of these facts on campus – the Tav shut its doors on June 6 for refurbishments, with a reopening scheduled for next semester. If you find yourself on campus this break, and unless you’ve slated yourself for Dry July: best head to Varsity. We hear they do good cheeseburgers, too.

Words by Kate Prendergast