Committee to discuss safety of new colleges

As members of the Yale and Dixwell communities begin to explore the possibility of adding two new residential colleges, both University and community leaders said safety concerns for students will figure prominently in the debate.

The issue of the new colleges’ impacts on security will be addressed by the Committee on Student Life, which has yet to meet, University officials said. Though they were hesitant to speculate, community leaders and representatives of the Yale and New Haven Police Departments said they do not think the campus or the community will be less safe once construction fills the site, now isolated and empty.

The prospective site of the colleges, off Prospect Street behind the Grove Street Cemetery, is already part of the area covered by the Yale Police Department, YPD Sgt. Steven Woznyk said. The YPD could easily adapt to the expansion, which would likely involve increased pedestrian traffic, he said.

“The expansion would increase pedestrian traffic in the area [and] right now it’s somewhat sparse,” he said. “It will be an emphasis of the police department to keep high visibility.”

Woznyk said the YPD should be able to accommodate the changes in population density, though he declined to speculate about whether or not and to what extent the YPD may need to increase or redistribute personnel. The YPD has adjusted well to other University expansions, though they were comparatively minor, he said.

“With the budgeted staff we have, we are certainly capable of accommodating the addition,” he said. “We’re trying to get up to staff.”

The department is currently finishing its selections for the year’s first round of recruiting, he said, and approximately six new recruits will begin training by the end of the month.

Though Yale President Richard Levin declined to comment in detail about any adjustments the University may make to address changes in security or policing needs, he said virtually all of the services that require more staff to accommodate the increased number of students will be expanded.

Calhoun College Master William Sledge, who will head the Committee on Student Life, said in an e-mail that the committee will address the issue of safety and student concerns, but he declined to comment further since the committee has yet to meet.

Associate Dean Penelope Laurans, the vice-chair of the committee, said in an e-mail that it will be important for the committee not to look at prospective colleges as isolated entities.

“When you think of the residential colleges, don’t start by thinking of them as sitting out there alone, as self-enclosed communities on a separate planet that will need some kind of extra special protection,” she said. “Think of what else exists and also of other new things, and interconnections and intriguing ways to bring them about.”

Community members echoed the idea that the prospective residential colleges would not be able to be isolated from the surrounding Dixwell community.

Dixwell Community Management Team President Roxanne Condon said that though there have been concerns about Yale’s continuing expansion in the area, response has generally been positive. In the 20 years that she has lived in Dixwell, Condon said, the neighborhood has already become increasingly pedestrian-friendly. NHPD Sgt. Anthony Duff, district manager of the Dixwell substation, has consistently assured her and her neighbors that the neighborhood is safe, she said.

“I feel they will only add to safety because there will be more people walking around,” she said. “Because there will be more people living there, there will be more eyes on the neighborhood.”

Condon said the University has done a good job of including Dixwell community members in discussions by sending a representative to Dixwell Management Team meetings and relaying information to residents. She said she is not worried that students will cause increased disturbances in the neighborhood.

Makana Ellis ’05, director of the Dixwell-Yale Community Center, said the addition of two new colleges could be positive for the community.

“Students tend to be involved in … volunteering in schools and the community,” she said. “So I think having two new colleges in the Dixwell community will make them want to give back.”

The DYCC is located alongside YPD headquarters in the new Rose Center on Ashmun Street. The new colleges would be located near both institutions, which Ellis and Woznyk said would be positive for students and the community.

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