News crew films in gender-neutral bathroom
CBS 2 News violated University policy Tuesday when they filmed inside the second floor gender-neutral bathroom in Demarest Hall on the College Avenue campus.
Magee Hickey, a reporter for CBS 2 News, along with a camerawoman were working on a segment about the University's new gender-neutral housing option and gained access when a hall resident swiped them into the facility, which is restricted to residents only through an ID card swipe.
"A resident brought us in. We wouldn't have had any other way to go in," Hickey said. "We were invited in by the student."
But according to the University's policy 80.1.6 Section IX, "Media representatives must obtain permission from OMR [Office of Media Relations] or the appropriate campus communications offices to enter all areas of residential buildings."
Joan Carbone, executive director of Residence Life, said the CBS team did not acquire the proper credentials to be in the facility and even if they did, she would have never permitted them to film inside a bathroom.
"To have them in the bathroom where someone was actually showering was just outrageous," Carbone said.
The news segment, which is available on the organization's website, features a three-second clip inside the bathroom where School of Arts and Sciences junior Daniel Spektor's foot is shown inside a stall as he takes a shower. He said another student was also showering at the time.
"We asked the students who were showering. We said we wanted to show them and they were fine with it," Hickey said. "We asked ahead of time."
Hickey said it was not necessary for the students to sign release forms since their images were not shown.
But Spektor said no one asked his permission to record while he was in the shower and he did not know someone was filming.
"I think it was only 15 minutes later when I started getting out of the shower stall with only a towel on that I saw the camerawoman and anchor woman," he said.
As Spektor was leaving the bathroom, he saw they were recording and asked them not to broadcast his image, which they did not include in the segment.
Although Spektor does not find the broadcasted clip of his foot invasive, he believes it was inappropriate for Hickey and the camerawoman to film inside the bathroom.
"I don't think it was the proper environment to do so when people were in there," he said. "If it was empty and they wanted to show how the shower stall worked on the inside then that would have been more understandable."
But he did give them permission to film a round video shot of his room's interior.
The filming left members of the Demarest Hall community upset and outraged.
Demarest Hall Treasurer Patrick Kulikowski believes shooting footage in the bathroom was both insulting and an invasion of privacy.
"The fact that they recorded the inside of our bathrooms, that just felt entirely unnecessary and pointless," said Kulikowski, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. "There's no reason to film inside a bathroom. I just think it's absurd."
Veronica Koons, Demarest Hall co-president of programming, said the reporters do not have a right to be in the bathroom especially since there were students showering.
"It's one thing to ask for student opinions, but to come into our home and go into our private area where we clean and do our business, that's way too much," said Koons, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
If the bathroom was limited to women or men only, Koons said she would have found it just as offensive.
"Whether its single-sex or gender-neutral, privacy is privacy no matter what," she said. "You're just coming in without so much as a warning and you're making it public."
Jordan Gochman, Demarest Hall outreach coordinator, said many current and former residents have expressed their anger to him over the incident.
While he sees this new housing option as a great advancement for the University and believes it should be reported, he also thinks there should be some discretion.
"Last year's outreach coordinator … worked extremely hard to get the gender-neutral bathrooms on the second floor," said Gochman, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. "This just completely undermines everything we've done in order to keep the dorm safe and appropriate for everyone that lives here."
Gochman said the executive board and other housing administrators would meet soon to discuss the issue.
"Once we all push our heads together, we're obviously going to make some big changes about privacy rights and everything else," he said.