The next time you feel as though someone is watching you, check your peephole instead of your window - Peeping Tom might not be responsible for this one.

Throughout the years, University Housing has attempted to improve their security measures by establishing visitation policies, security monitoring and biometric hand readers, which scans students' hands in conjunction with their UGA ID cards.

Aside from this, every dorm room is equipped with a peephole in order to provide extra security and precaution for every student.

Yet, the extra security measure has been turned into a practical joke as a peculiar trend circulates through the residence halls - reversing peepholes so their principle function is to peer in on people, rather than allowing residents to peek out.

"I'm not quite sure who started it, but someone said, 'Hey, look in here,' so I did and I saw the people inside," said Ileana Figueroa, a freshman from Augusta residing in Lipscomb Hall in an interview last week.

"The peepholes are pretty easy to unscrew - all you have to do is have the door open," Figueroa said. "Everyone in our hall is pretty close so anything like this is just a joke."

Sam White and his roommate Peri Finch, who both reside in Lipscomb Hall, are victims of the peephole tampering trend. Other people traveling by could look inside

White and Finch's room and observe them without being noticed.

"When it happened, we were distracted - a couple of our friends were over and one of our neighbors reversed the peephole and every now and then people would just look in to see what we're doing," said White, a freshman from Alpharetta.

Both of the targets did not realize their peepholes had been tinkered with for an entire week.

"I didn't feel weird about it because I know these people," said Finch, a freshman from Decatur. "But I've kind of heard of instances where it has happened before and in terms of people doing it in a negative way - it could happen because people can spy on others although I don't think it's a huge deal."

However, the practical joke comes with a penalty if the jokers are caught.

There is a cost replacement for missing peepholes, said Carla Dennis, assistant to the executive director of University Housing, in a phone interview Tuesday.

Although most often, Housing Services is unaware of missing peepholes, she said, students caught tampering with peepholes will go through a judicial review.

"Peepholes are definitely important - they are in place as an added security for students," said Dennis, who is also a former hall director at Oglethorpe House dormitory.

"I think it's important for them to understand why the peepholes are there in place, and I would hope that students think twice about messing with this because they want their friends to be safe," she said.

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