While a shooting and an armed robbery provided a cold welcome to students this fall, several weeks of relative calm made it easier to dismiss the crimes as isolated incidents. But a month and a half later, another shooting and another robbery serve as a troubling reminder that the problem has not been adequately addressed.
This emerging trend of violent crimes in and around Yale’s campus provides obvious cause for concern. Equally obvious are some of the steps that must be taken: increasing police patrols, installing additional lighting and improving coordination between the Yale and New Haven police forces near central campus. Some of these measures are reportedly being implemented, and we urge both departments to address them all soon.
But while these measures may alleviate some of the symptoms of a burgeoning crime wave in the short term, finding a true long-term solution requires a deeper examination of the issues. Addressing the underlying causes of crime requires us to consider the health of the community in which we live.
Ultimate responsibility for crime prevention undoubtedly rests with city authorities, but we cannot reasonably expect police to unilaterally resolve a problem rooted in deep-seated socioeconomic issues. While the city’s success in fighting crime during the past 15 years is laudable, New Haven cannot afford to be satisfied with its progress.
City Hall should be particularly concerned that this spike in crime coincides with recent cuts to local youth programs — including LEAP and the now-defunct Dixwell Community Q House — which have suffered as a result of budget constraints at the local level and the expiration of some federal funding. While the city’s narrowly balanced budget demands tight spending limitations, it is worth seriously reconsidering whether youth programs can stand to be cut.
At the same time, Yale cannot wash its hands of responsibility for protecting its students, and this duty should not be narrowly construed to mean providing patrols and escorts — though these are undoubtedly important. Each outbreak of crime provides a harsh reminder that Yale is not a freestanding institution, but rather an integrated part of our city’s social fabric, and the University’s privileged financial position provides an opportunity to take a more active role in fixing the problems that are making its surroundings a source of crime.
Admittedly, Yale invests considerable resources in its community, particularly in youth programs, but each successive mugging demonstrates that there is much more work to be done. The Rose Center police station-community center hybrid currently under construction exemplifies the kind of initiative that can improve community relations while creating a safer environment for students.
But while there is much for City Hall and the University to do, we as students also have an active role to play in the larger community. New Haven has no greater untapped resource available to productively engage the city’s youth, for example, than Yale students.
Ultimately, all parties involved — the city, the University and the student body — share responsibility for addressing the sources of crime in our community. Failure to do so could mean that robberies and shootings will continue to dot the News’ front pages.