Delays in the release of crime information have angered some students who said they have a right to know which areas of campus are less safe than others.
Though Davenport College sophomore David Lyons ’08 was assaulted Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m., the residential college was not officially informed of the incident until Sunday evening. Davenport students expressed frustration that Lyons’ assault went unreported for the duration of the weekend, but administrators said the delays were due primarily to poor contact with local police.
Some Davenport students said they expected to receive information soon after the incident and were surprised that members of Pierson College were notified of the assault first. Piersonites received an e-mail from Pierson Master Harvey Goldblatt on Saturday night.
“The student involved was a member of our community, not Pierson’s, but they heard about it first,” Davenport resident Jenny Laaser ’08 said. “This is unacceptable.”
But Davenport Master Richard Schottenfeld said he attributes part of the delay in communication to the fact that the New Haven Police Department, not the Yale Police, responded to the incident.
“The New Haven Police don’t know whom to notify,” Schottenfeld said.
Lyons said that when he spoke with Schottenfeld on Friday afternoon, Schottenfeld had not been informed of the incident.
Yale Police Department Lt. Michael Patten said the NHPD often takes longer than the YPD to notify a college master or dean.
“Usually the supervisor on the shift lets the dean and master know, but sometimes the officers themselves give the dean and master a call,” he said.
Still, Laaser said, the delay in official notification following such an incident often leads to rumors that cause unnecessary fear and that can make the situation appear much worse.
While Schottenfeld said he agrees rumors can spread quickly, he said he sent the e-mail on Sunday night because he wanted first to get the input YPD Chief James Perrotti and some of his fellow college masters.
“I wanted to think about what the key things to let people know about [were],” he said. “I put in some calls and e-mails to Chief Perrotti and to my other colleagues so that when I sent an e-mail out, it was actually helpful.”
Schottenfeld said Goldblatt learned about the incident from his calls.
Ezra Stiles College Master Stuart Schwartz said that when members of his residential college community are the victims of crime, he tries to notify Stiles students as soon as possible.
“Usually, the police contact me with the information and I try to get a message out that same evening,” Schwartz said. “I think that when a crime happens in the area or if it directly involves the college, masters have a responsibility to inform the community.”
Some Davenport students said they were unsure about who is responsible for notifying them about crimes.
Justin Baker ’07 said he thinks all members of the Yale community should be informed of crime, not just other students in the victim’s college. While he said he was pleased that all Yale students received e-mails from Perrotti earlier this year regarding crime, he would be more inclined to take such an e-mail seriously if it came from the master or dean of his college.
“I’m not sure who should tell us about the crimes,” Baker said. “But when I see a letter from my residential college master in my inbox, I read it because I know it’s targeted specifically towards me.”
Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said that in order to avoid overwhelming students with e-mails, which she said causes students to take e-mails less seriously, the YPD only notifies students about crime in specific cases.
“When the crimes involve some person-to-person contact, like the crimes have this fall, or if they involve some sort of pattern, then we send out a notice to all students,” she said.
In all other cases, she said, masters and deans inform students at their own discretion.
Laaser said she thinks masters and deans were most effective in communicating the necessity of being cautious and using services such as the Minibus system and 2-WALK.
“They are the people who are responsible for the college,” she said. “They need to do a better job in convincing students that security is a big deal.”
Since the beginning of the school year, Perrotti has sent four e-mails regarding crimes that affected students.