Hostels and Dormitories – Protection vs Privacy?


Travelling on a low-budget? Looking for an affordable, but safe place to stay? Well, hostels and dormitories are the places for you. Of course, you may have to share your rooms with others, and your privacy may be compromised, but they provide safe as well as clean and comfy places of stay, while still helping to manage within your budget.

Hostel and dormitories are mainly frequented by the youth. They act as great scenes of interaction between people of different nationalities, languages and cultures. Hostels are mainly the features of European cities, but they have caught up on the American continents and Australia too.

Now, for the traveller who is strictly journeying on a budget there is no better way to save on the cost of accommodation than stay in hostels. But again, if you are too finicky about your privacy, you may have problems with hostels and dormitories. When staying in these facilities, you are expected to share your room with more than one person, people who are almost always strangers to you.

Privacy as opposed to safety

Privacy can be a major issue when sharing is involved. And what guarantee is there that the people you are sharing your room with can be trusted? After all they can even belong to different nationalities? And some of the hostels have rooms where the male and female sexes share the same room. What then?

To assure the safety of its patrons, most of the hostels do have surveillance cameras within their premises. These are normally fitted in common rooms, corridors, kitchens, stairways, entrances and laundry areas with the aim of monitoring the activities of the visitors. Of course, like anything else there are supporters as well as naysayers at the idea of surveillance cameras and CCTVs in hostels and dormitories.

‘They don’t need to watch us 24 hours a day’

Well, the opposition is loudest from the guys, of course. And it is strongest from hostels and dorms that are attached to colleges and educational institutions. Martin Jackson, a student at the Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana where surveillance cameras and CCTV cameras were recently installed in the dorms, feels that the authorities “need to take them all down” as they could be used as solid proof that the students are breaking the 11:00o’clock curfew and would get them into trouble with the sports coaches.

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Jacob Hill, a sophomore, too feels that surveillance cameras are an unnecessary imposition and an impeachment on the students’ privacy. It’s almost as if the college authorities expect to “catch us doing something wrong”. Jacob further feels that there have never been any threatening incidents inside the dorms to merit the fixing of surveillance cameras.

‘They make us safer’

Well, Chris Shanks, a freshman with Butler says that the cameras give the students a sense of safety. The supporters of surveillance cameras – both in university dorms as well as hostels and dormitories elsewhere – feel safer and more secure due to the presence of cameras.  Females especially feel more comfortable when the hostels and dorms have been equipped with security cameras.

Naturally, when you are bunking down in a strange place and is surrounded by strangers, surveillance cameras would add to the feeling of security. Of course, with the burgeoning of female only hostels and dorms, the element of safety has increased. But still, when you know that a third eye is keeping a close watch over the various occupants of your hostel room and dormitory, it’s only natural that you are able to sleep better at night.

The owner’s view

The owners too seem to endorse this view. The owner of a hostel facility in North Queensland, Australia reiterates this when he says that “If we have internal problems we can generally find the culprit (with the 25 security cameras installed through the hostel).” Well, so it’s not just the occupants, but the owners too feel more confident if they have cameras monitoring their premises. In fact, he vouches that even such nuisance as leaving the kitchen and rooms in a mess have reduced drastically after the surveillance cameras have been put up.

Inconvenience and issues about privacy notwithstanding, camera surveillance in hostels and dormitories seems to be here to stay. No matter what the objections, the positives are too many to ignore the benefits of shrouding your hostel facility within the protective cloak of security cameras.

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