Yale to promote safety at work

Yale officials have resolved to launch a campaign to improve workplace safety in light of the murder of Annie Le GRD ’13 and this month’s arrest of a Yale retiree who brought weapons to campus.

Details of the campaign have yet to be determined, but through a blurb published Friday in Yale’s human resources newsletter, Yale officials began to solicit ideas from employees on how to improve campus safety. Director of Human Resources and Administration Communications Hellen Hom said the campaign aims to ensure that workplace safety remains a priority among all employees.

“It’s an unfortunate occurrence that both [incidents] happened in the same time frame,” she said Monday. “The combination of the two just brings to light the need for more awareness.”

Two weeks ago, New Haven police arrested Raymond Clark III, an animal lab technician, for the murder of Le at her workplace, 10 Amistad St.

At the time of Clark’s arrest, University President Richard Levin insisted that the crime was not the result of lackluster security: “This incident could have happened in any city, in any university, or in any workplace,” he said. Levin told the News that though Clark had worked at in the Yale laboratory since December 2004, there had been no indications in his history that a crime could have been expected.

New Haven Police Department Chief James Lewis similarly classified the homicide as an isolated incident: “This was not about New Haven crime, or University crime, or domestic crime,” Lewis said shortly after Clark was arrested. “This was workplace violence.”

That same week, Yale police officers arrested retired Yale employee John Petrini, for carrying a rifle and an 8.5-inch butcher knife to 155 Whitney Ave., the former home of the Human Resources Department.

Petrini, a physical plant employee who retired in 2002, filed a complaint with the University in 2008 because, he claimed, the University was not paying him the retirement benefits he deserved. Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Michael Peel said Petrini’s appeal was denied because, when Petrini left the University, he did not meet the minimum age requirement of 55 to be eligible for those benefits.

Although no further communication between the University and Petrini had occurred since the appeal was denied, officials said they believe Petrini’s actions were related to this dispute.

University officials have since embarked on a plan to publicize their zero-tolerance workplace violence policy to the Yale community. Yale officials in recent weeks posted a link to the policy, which is listed on Yale’s public safety Web site, on the Human Resources main page, Hom said.

“It’s a good reiteration for people who aren’t aware of the policy to be aware that there is [one],” Hom said. “This policy has been around for a long time.”

In an interview Sunday, Levin said he did not know the campaign’s specifics, but he added that employees now have a chance to make suggestions.

“We said around the time of the Annie Le murder that we would be looking for ways to enhance security, and this is part of that,” he said.

Both Peel and Deputy University Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversees Yale security, did not respond to requests for comment left over the weekend and Monday.

Meanwhile, the federal government will help Yale in their safety efforts: Sen. Christopher Dodd announced Friday that Yale and Connecticut College will share a $643,000 grant to prevent violence against women on campus. In his announcement of the grant, Dodd mentioned the “recent tragedy on Yale’s campus,” adding that the funds were allocated to prevent violence both at home and in the workplace.

Yale officials also said in the human resources newsletter that they will announce more updates of the campaign in upcoming weeks.


  • unsecured

    The University has not addressed dorm window security screens since the break in incidents reported here in 2007. They tried to buy the stuff, but have been bogged down in a sea of red tape with the university architects and purchasing departments for two years.

  • #2

    KGL occupants (especially in the basement) have been screaming for better security for years. It is an absolute joke that the university is now encouraging us to make suggestions to improve our security. Security has never been a long term university priority for staff and it’s absolutely disgusting that Annie’s death has prompted the university into “short term” action. I agree with #1, red tape and “budget issues” have always been put ahead of our security, cultural property and research equipment.

  • Parent

    How about enhancing pedestrian crossings so our students and university staff stop getting killed and maimed every year? Yale seems to have it’s priorities mixed up. It seems that Yale has done nothing to fix streets like Route 34, Elm and Grove, which kill people every year. Last time I was in new haven I saw a car speeding down Chapel by a group of freshman heading out from Old Campus at 50 miles an hour. They all could have been killed. Put up a few modern crosswalks and you’d eliminate 100% of this risk. Cambridge is far ahead on this.

  • Med ’08

    How do they propose to improve safety and security? You can enter any building through numerous doors. Employees and students continually prop doors open or piggyback through. Most buildings have no security or police presence. What;s to stop anyone from entering a building with a grudge? If you’re in a building with a guard at the door, they aren’t armed. Yale has feel good security, and not much of that. Security is expensive and an inconvenience to most on campus. Until Yale decides to spend the necessary funds, hire well trained people and enforce security regulations we’ll simply get a pat on the head until the hysteria dies down.
    Want real security? Limit access points to buildings and require people to pass a security station. Limit public access to buildings. Have an exchange badge system for sensitive areas and labs, you know who is in and who is out. Have a disciplinary system for repeat offenders of security procedures, you being lazy shouldn’t threaten my safety. Increase and maintain the street lighting and put emergency buttons in buildings. Increase the number of security and make sure they are actually trained, instead of having to call thier office to find out the answer to the simplest questions. Having some as armed constables like the hospital used to be can’t hurt, at least you have more people who can actually help on the street.
    And $640,000 to prevent violence against women? What are they going to spend this on? More studies, survey’s and classes? Maybe they should invest in wearable emergency beepers.

  • Former Pharm student

    Yale would be remiss to not review YARC and how it interacts with students, post-docs and investigators. If YARC could find a balance between being helpful and policing animal care, there would be considerably less tension between animal care staff and investigators. That being said, there’s only so Yale can do to reduce violence and (IMHO) the responsibilty for this crime lies solely on the perpatrator.

  • #6

    So you guys are going to try to improve security now? Gee, I’m sure that’s going to be a great comfort to all the people who care about Annie. All the people who have a hand in campus security need to be fired and replaced. They obviously have no idea what they’re doing. Yes, the one responsible was the one who murdered her, but we need to do all we can to prevent people like that from committing violent acts. I was appauled by what I saw in the news. Yale is going to have a scholarship now in her honor, which is good. They were actually soliciting donations for it. After their negligence helped contribute to her death, they should invite large groups of people to go there for free.


    There is absolutely no way Yale could have prevented Annie Le’s tragic death. I’m all for criticizing the administration, but the blame for this should be placed at the feet of only one man – her killer.

  • ombud23

    Lots of good people have done lots of footwork already regarding workplace health and safety. Google The Healthy Workplace Bill, written by Professor David Yamada and join the campaign to pass Healthy Workplace Legislation. The fact of a little cause of action will encourage reporting of bullying and emmotional abuse and be a substantial preventative of hosstility, agression, and abuse in the workplace. I believe there are several states that are considering passing this bill, and your input will help it along.

  • genius!

    Here’s a suggestion: stop hiring murderers.

  • Former faculty

    My office was in a building on a busy intersection near a high-crime area. My department had to complain about unlocked doors at night (not to mention during the day), while enduring strangers wandering the halls at night, thefts, random people letting themselves into our offices under the guise of being lost or needing to use the phone, gang graffiti and other intrusions — for over five years before the powers-that-be finally relented and made the doors card-key entry at night. Cited as excuses for the lack of security were budget constraints, “tricky locks” on our doors, lack of need, need for students to access upstairs rooms for meetings and parties, etc. I was always amazed at the resistance to such a basic safety measure and to this day it makes me shake my head in disbelief. In the Le case the enemy was apparently within, but that doesn’t mean that people on campus should be vulnerable to people who have no legitimate reason to be there in addition to those who do.

  • Casey

    Why does it always take something happening before steps are taken to increase security? FIRST OF ALL, there should be a security guard in every single work place area of a building. When its lunch or break time, another one comes and takes his place. This building was not secure. There are cameras everywhere outside, but only cameras in the halls on the inside? No security guards inside either? Thats putting absolute complete trust in everyone who enters those doors. There should have been cameras and security guards overlooking that entire building. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

  • Jonathan Paul

    Eye injuries are a significant cause of lost working days throughout the world, particularly within the manufacturing industry. There are two main reasons why eye injuries would occur at work – not wearing any eye protection or more commonly because of wearing the wrong type of, or inadequate eye protection.