As the nation prepares to enter its second week of war in Iraq, Yale officials said Sunday they had no knowledge of any threat to campus security. While administrators are taking precautions to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff, Yale has not significantly changed its campus security measures since the nation’s terror alert status was elevated to “high” in February, Yale President Richard Levin and University Secretary Linda Lorimer said.
Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Levin appointed a task force that reviewed security precautions, including locks on campus facilities, emergency communication, and protocols for working with area hospitals and municipal, state and federal emergency officials. In addition, the task force assessed Yale’s food stock, backed up the University’s computer system, and created an emergency manual for senior administrators, Lorimer said.
Lorimer said those efforts put the University “in good stead” and no major changes to Yale’s security efforts have been necessary since the start of the war.
“We have not had the need to do anything specific in light of the recent military actions,” Lorimer said. “Obviously we are monitoring carefully the news, as everyone else is, and we are in regular communication with state and federal security officials.”
Levin said existing campus security would be enhanced in some respects.
“We are taking some extra security precautions in sensitive areas of campus, but nothing extraordinary,” Levin said. “Nothing that would be noticed by students or interfere with their activity.”
Lorimer said the University’s science laboratories are one type of “sensitive” area.
“Since [Sept. 11, 2001], we have been trying to be particularly vigilant in safeguarding hazard materials around campus, but in fact they have already been safeguarded substantially because of the elaborate federal regulations,” Lorimer said.
Calhoun College Master and psychiatry professor William Sledge said Yale’s medical center is constantly examining potential responses to major chemical or biological attacks. Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Sledge said medical staff members have learned more about large-scale treatments for smallpox, anthrax and radiation.
Rebecca Walker ’05, who works for Yale’s Biomedical Engineering Department, said her colleagues are careful with hazardous waste.
“I feel perfectly safe here,” Walker said. “I don’t really feel like there’s any imminent threat to the school.”
Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey said he is worried about international students — a group which constitutes about one third of Yale’s graduate student body — and their families, who may be concerned about their students living in a country at war.
Salovey said the graduate school may designate a room on campus as a news center where televisions would display CNN broadcasts all day. He also said he may arrange an opportunity for graduate students to gather and discuss the war.
Yale is planning several events regarding the war, including a Wednesday “teach-in” event with Yale faculty members, including history professor John Gaddis, Lorimer said. The professors will discuss the war and its national security implications. A similar event took place after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
If an emergency occurs at Yale, officials will post information on the University’s online home page, Lorimer said in a February e-mail to Yale students, faculty and staff. Lorimer encouraged students to relay this announcement to their parents. In a March 22 e-mail to the Yale community, Levin said the University has “the capacity to notify the community swiftly and comprehensively,” should an emergency arise.