The headlines have been hard to miss. “Drama student shot in hand in mugging.” “Yale employee reports assault on Howe Street.” Whether we like it or not, Yale and New Haven are indissolubly linked as one community. It’s time to start working to make our neighborhood safer and more secure.
For those of us who have experienced it firsthand, New Haven is a remarkable city that offers its citizens both unique opportunities and considerable challenges. It is a city that houses one of the world’s finest institutions of higher learning set against the backdrop of one the nation’s poorest urban areas.
By tutoring, mentoring and volunteering, students have enriched the mutual relationship between the two communities. In so doing, they have made great strides in improving the lives of New Haven’s permanent residents, as well as developed personally through their interactions with the city. But in addition to individual opportunities for volunteerism, this city gives us yet another means to effect positive change on both Yale and the greater New Haven community: local politics.
For the past month, I have devoted myself to getting Gina Calder ’03 elected as Ward 2 alderwoman. Upon graduation, Gina chose to keep New Haven as her home and has since devoted herself to providing technical assistance to numerous community agencies in the city. Her dedication and insight into the issues facing New Haven, and Ward 2 specifically, will prove compelling to even the greatest skeptics of the New Haven political system.
The city of New Haven is split into 30 wards, each of which is represented by a member of the Board of Aldermen (equivalent to city councils in other cities). Most Yale students live in one of three wards: Ward 1, which covers eight residential colleges (if you include Trumbull) and Old Campus; Ward 22, which covers Silliman, Timothy Dwight, Morse, Ezra Stiles and Swing Space; and finally, Ward 2, which represents a large chunk of Yale students living off-campus behind Pierson. Although Yale students constitute a large proportion of the population of Ward 2, the voice of students has traditionally been left to the aldermen from Wards 1 and 22. Gina has convinced me that students living in Ward 2 face a unique set of issues that can only be addressed by the alderman that represents their specific interests. For far too long, these issues have been underserved on the Board.
Within the last two years, a police substation was closed on Park Street and since then, reports of crime against students in Ward 2 have increased. Nothing has been done to resolve this situation, and both students and community members have paid the price. The sooner we establish a greater community police presence in Ward 2, the sooner headlines of violence against students will cease to garner front-page news. The residents of Ward 2 need no longer feel abandoned by the city in terms of protection and the provision of basic services. A strong, confident and secure neighborhood benefits everyone, whether you live in New Haven for four years or 40.
Today, we have an opportunity to make our voices heard on the Board of Aldermen through the most fundamental act of democracy. Please take the opportunity to ensure that Yale students realize the potential for positive change in New Haven by voting for Gina: the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate.
Adam Barth is a junior in Silliman College and the political director of the New Haven Action Fund.