Just as students are finalizing their plans for next year’s housing, recent incidents of violence off-campus have left some students and Yale administrators questioning students’ safety outside the direct watch of the University and its police force.
In light of an assault on an undergraduate by four men wielding glass bottles at 65 Edgewood Ave. last week, Yale Police have emphasized their efforts to work with New Haven Police in order to better ensure the safety of students living beyond Howe Street, the furthest boundary of Yale Police Department patrol, Police Lt. Michael Patten said.
University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said living on campus provides a level of security not present elsewhere in the city.
“We encourage students to live on campus,” Highsmith said. “Areas with a large concentration of students can often be seen as a target.”
Branford College Dean Thomas McDow said if it were up to him, everyone would live on campus.
Though assault is uncommon off-campus and Highsmith said the majority of incidents involve auto theft or property crimes, the attack last week has worried Edgewood residents, said Ari Glogower ’05, who lives on Edgewood.
“Until this recent attack, crime around here has never been more than a nuisance,” Glogower said.
Although this incident was atypical, Glogower said it has led him to consider the danger of a limited YPD patrol area. Glogower said although Edgewood is not patrolled by the YPD, officers should watch the street because of the large number of students living there.
“I don’t see why the Yale police can’t pay any attention to a neighborhood bordering campus with a high concentration of Yale students,” Glogower said. “It seems strange that a student can be seriously attacked only two-and-a-half blocks from Pierson College and the Yale Police’s only response is that they don’t cover the area.”
Patten said extending their patrol might put too much demand on limited YPD resources.
“The farther you stretch us out, the less effective we’ll be,” Patten said.
Edgewood Avenue was also the scene of an armed robbery in December, in which Christopher McLaughry ’07 was mugged by a man with a shotgun.
All of the protective measures Yale’s campus affords students dwindle the further away students live. Highmisth said once students make the move off-campus, they forgo some of the safety measures on campus, including “blue phones” and extra lighting.
“We’re limited in what we can do,” Highsmith said. “We can’t force the city to put up more lights.”
Despite such concerns, some off-campus students as well as police said there are cooperative efforts between the YPD and the New Haven Police Department to keep students safe while living off-campus. Korobkin said she has seen Yale police cars driving up and down Howe Street, which is on the furthest border of their patrol area. Patten said the YPD and NHPD cooperate extensively in off-campus areas inhabited by graduate and medical school students.
“The YPD and the NHPD work closely,” Highsmith said. “We do some patrols and if a call comes into New Haven police, they almost always notify us so we can assist them.”
Patten said the two departments are in constant communication. Out of the 10 districts in New Haven, eight regularly interact with University security and administration. Yale Police administration also attend frequent meetings with the NHPD.
“We attend weekly staff meetings and we work together all the time,” Patten said. “We also go over criminal activity in the city every three-week period.”
Yale officers also participate in the “Time’s Up” program, in which they collaborate with New Haven officers on issues surrounding the parole of violent offenders in the city.
Rachel Korobkin ’06 said she knows that by moving off-campus, especially in light of recent crimes, she is giving up the zone of protection that the campus provides.
“I don’t feel unsafe, but I do feel like I’m living in a city and less like I’m living in the walled, protected community that Yale is,” Korobkin, who lives on 101 Howe St., said.
Korobkin said she hasn’t had any problems concerning safety, even when she walks home from the art building late at night, but attributes this to luck. She has had friends who have been mugged and their apartments broken into her home, she said.
Patten said although occasional street robberies do occur, most of the crime in past years has been property crime and has often occurred when students leave their property unattended and unsecured.