Crime wave has altered daily habits, poll reveals

One in four students has changed his or her daily habits in response to a recent surge in crime on and around the Yale campus, a poll conducted this week by the News has revealed.

The survey of 538 undergraduates, open between Oct. 21 and 23, also found that while only 20 percent of men report a shift in their routines, nearly one in three women has made lifestyle changes due to the wave of break-ins and thefts.

The poll has a margin of error of 4 percent. Statistics professor John Emerson confirmed the statistical validity of the survey’s method and results.

Yale Police Department spokesman Sgt. Steven Woznyk said the News’ poll reflects efforts to increase personal safety awareness in light of crimes that have hit close to home.

“The recent burglaries have involved so many people,” Woznyk said. “The people that [they have] affected in those residential colleges have realized that these things occur.”

Still, three in four students reported no change in habits.

In follow-up interviews, some students said they do not feel compelled to act more cautiously because they do not think there is an imminent threat to their personal safety.

According to the Yale Police Department’s crime logs, 72 burglaries and thefts have been reported to the YPD since Sept. 4; the YPD recorded 99 reported burglaries in all of 2006, 52 of which took place in residential halls.

In response, residential college masters and deans have been urging students to lock their doors, take their keys with them to the bathroom and watch out for possible intruders who might slip through open college gates. But only a quarter of undergraduates polled indicated they have taken additional measures to safeguard their property.

Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said he hopes more students will alter their behavior to prevent future crime.

“We reside in a city, and so crime prevention should always be taken seriously,” Salovey said in an e-mail. “I would hope that no students leave the doors to their entryways open nor walk alone at night. I would hope anyone who has not already adopted these very simple, crime-reducing behaviors would do so.”

Over the past month, University officials have taken steps to increase student awareness about crime prevention.

Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry said residential college deans have been engaging students and freshman counselors in informal conversations about safety awareness.

Last week, the YPD teamed up with the NHPD to put on a security awareness seminar at the New Haven Public Library that was geared towards Yale students. Only one person — a non-Yale student — attended the seminar, which was conducted by NHPD officer Joe Avery.

Avery previously told the News he hopes to reschedule the event for a later date, when more Yale students may be inclined to attend.

“Most students were never affected by thefts or never had this type of incident occur to them,” Woznyk said. “They’re going to do very little to change because they’ve never been a victim.”

The poll revealed a statistically significant difference between the number of women surveyed who said they have changed their habits and the number of men.

Matt Sawyer ’10 said many men do not see the threat of thefts on campus as serious, or they simply “don’t care.”

Still, 69 percent of female students polled reported no change in daily habits.

“I’m pretty conscientious as it is,” Caitlin Bray ’09 said. “[But] my suite always locks the doors, so I wouldn’t say I’ve changed.”

The class of 2011 arrived on campus in the midst of a crime wave, but many of those interviewed said convenience matters more to them than caution.

Andrea Sohn ’11 said while she understands that the recent events are cause for concern, she still leaves her door unlocked because “it’s just easier.”

Allen Zhang ’11 said he thinks the burglaries would not affect him personally.

“For my suite — we live on the 6th floor — you could walk up, but what kind of burglar is going to do that?” Zhang said.

The News sent the poll to 1,000 randomly selected undergraduates via e-mail on Oct. 21. The overall results have a confidence interval of 95 percent.

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