By Brady Small | LTVN Reporter, Sydney Matthews | Staff Writer
A Martin Residence Hall community leader says he was fired in early December after speaking out about hidden cameras in some hallway smoke detectors of Martin and Penland residence halls.
Garland senior Isaac Montgomery says he was a CL for four semesters before residents told him — and his supervisor later confirmed — there were cameras in Martin Hall. Montgomery then told Penland residents there were hidden cameras in the halls of the male side of the residence hall. This later resulted in his termination due to interfering with an ongoing police investigation for damages in Martin and Penland, which began in the early fall of 2022.
According to Montgomery’s termination letter, he failed to uphold the expectations of the community leader mentor work agreement. The letter included that he specifically failed to practice exceptional judgement.
Montgomery said his supervisor told him, during a meeting, if he had told only Martin residents about the cameras, he would not have gotten fired. This is because it was public knowledge to Martin residents. However, since he told Penland residents about the hidden cameras in their halls, he tampered with an ongoing police investigation because the presence of cameras was not yet known among residents there.
The damage consisted of broken ceiling tiles and exit signs on the third and fourth floors of Martin and the third floor of Penland. At least two students have been charged with class B and C misdemeanors in relation to the damage.
“I think that if there had been more clarity at the beginning of there being cameras, the damage would have stopped,” Montgomery said. “It seems as though it was more about punishing people.”
Montgomery said the residents on his floor were panicked and upset when discovering that hidden cameras had been in the hallways for months.
San Diego freshman and Martin resident Ethan Anderson said his friends have seen the cameras hidden in the smoke detectors in the hallways of Martin.
“The fact that there were cameras in the hallways doesn’t bother me, but I feel uneasy that they are still trying to hide it from us,” Anderson said.
Anderson said it was unfair that Baylor fired Montgomery because of this issue. He said when Montgomery got fired, it made the cameras feel like more of a secret.
According to Baylor’s surveillance and camera policy, covert cameras are allowed to be put in buildings if they are installed by BUPD for investigating criminal activities.
Montgomery told the Lariat the cameras are one of the ways Baylor police have been trying to catch the students who have damaged ceiling tiles and exit signs. Others methods included giving pizza to those who would share the names of residents being destructive, and issuing community fines to all of the residents of Martin and Penland to help pay for the damages, he said.
“I hope that community leaders and residents will be invited into conversations about how to deal with the damage in the hall [and] how we can encourage good behavior without vilifying teenage boys,” Montgomery said.
The Lariat reached out to Rob Engblom, associate director for resident learning, who directed all questions to Baylor spokesperson Lori Fogleman.
Fogleman told Lariat TV News that Baylor can’t comment on the cameras in residence halls because it is part of an ongoing police investigation. She said so far, the cost of the damages is tens of thousands of dollars, not including the personnel costs. Fogleman also said there are more than 1,600 security cameras across campus, but Baylor cannot comment on where they are located because it would impact the safety and security of campus.
After Montgomery’s termination, he was forced to move out of Martin Hall and is on track to graduate this spring. The damages are still an ongoing investigation by BUPD.