Victim’s roommate leaves

The roommate of the Branford College freshman targeted with death threats and vandalism last week has withdrawn from Yale College for medical reasons, Branford College Master Steven Smith confirmed Tuesday.

The student has been the focus of suspicion among students living in Vanderbilt Hall for possibly having been behind the threats and vandalism his roommate reported to the authorities last week. But the student has not been arrested by the Yale Police Department or charged by the Executive Committee, Yale’s disciplinary body. Smith said he could not confirm that the student’s departure and the incident in Vanderbilt are related.

“I’m not saying that there is any connection between him and what happened, but he has withdrawn,” Smith told the News Tuesday night.

Last week, the student’s roommate found his room ransacked and received several anonymous messages threatening his life, spurring a flurry of rumors around Old Campus and a constant police presence outside Vanderbilt. The Yale Police Department is continuing to investigate the incident, said Sgt. Steven Woznyk, a YPD spokesman.

The student who withdrew did not respond to an e-mail on Tuesday. A man at the student’s home residence, reached by telephone by the News on Tuesday night, declined to comment. At the victims’s request, the News is withholding the names of involved parties.

The freshman who was threatened was believed to have been targeted out of jealousy stemming from two roles he received in campus theatrical productions this fall. But doubt has been cast by members of the theater community as to whether the note left in the victim’s room — which said the student did not deserve a part he won — might have been written in an effort to throw off the police.

Last Wednesday, Smith told Branford freshmen in an e-mail that a student had reported “several disturbing incidents of vandalism, anonymous messages and harassment” and urged students to take caution and watch for suspicious behavior. The police, meanwhile, have not received any additional reports of threats or vandalism targeting the student since the incident was first reported last week, Woznyk said.

“I think for the most part that the incidents that were occurring almost certainly stopped,” Woznyk said.

On Tuesday, rumors still circulated about the status of the investigation into the incident, but life in Vanderbilt was beginning to return to normal, students said. While the YPD placed an officer in front of the dormitory for much of last week, there has been less of a police presence this week, students said.

“People were scared,” said Rachel Achs ’11, who lives in the students’ entryway in Branford. “Some people slept in other peoples’ rooms for a night.”

Now, she said, freshmen in Vanderbilt are less on edge. “The situation calmed down,” she added.

Students across Old Campus still expressed frustration on Tuesday that official information on the incidents was hard to come by, and some said they still were taking precautions, like keeping the door to their suite closed and locked at all times, for instance. But some students said they still had concerns for their safety.

“I trust that the University is handling the situation,” said Monica Ceragioli ’11. “I don’t feel unsafe at all.”

Under the University’s regulations, a student can withdraw because of medical reasons with the approval of the director of the University Health Services, the chief of the Division of Mental Hygiene or one of their designees.

The University also has the right to require a student to withdraw for medical reasons if officials believe the student is a danger to himself or others, or if he does not cooperate with University officials in their efforts to determine if the student poses such a threat, according to the regulations.

The student would be first eligible to return to Yale for the fall semester next year, the University’s guidelines on readmission dictate. He would first have to obtain clearance from Yale University Health Services before returning and then would have to be re-admitted to the University by Yale College’s Committee on Readmission.

Cathy Lew and Nicolas Niarchos contributed reporting.

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