Members of the Yale and New Haven community gathered Thursday afternoon at a forum to discuss crime in New Haven in light of a perceived recent increase in crimes around campus.
Although members of the Yale and New Haven police departments described safety measures students should adopt, much of the discussion in Dwight Hall, sponsored by FOCUS, a student group started to help integrate Yalies into New Haven, centered around issues affecting New Haven’s youth and the long term causes of crime in the Elm City. Members of the New Haven Police Department, the Board of Aldermen, the Yale Police Department, Yale faculty and community outreach groups were on hand to speak.
FOCUS co-coordinator Claire Pavlovic ’07 said the meeting was held in order to address students’ concerns about several robberies that occurred near campus in the fall. At least eight members of the Yale community have been mugged since the beginning of the school year.
Instead of simply reacting to the problem of crime, Ward 6 Alderwoman Dolores Colon said Yale students should instead look to the cause of crime, which she called the “tip of the iceberg.”
Colon said she believes that youth in New Haven are driven to crime because of economic realities. Faced with the difficult task of making ends meet, parents living in poverty are not supervising their children, she said.
“When you have two parents each with two jobs, the kids are left unattended,” Colon said.
While NHPD Sgt. Martin Tchakirides said the problems affecting New Haven’s youth cannot be corrected overnight, he said Yale students need to become more involved in community issues and not remain within the confines of the University’s Gothic walls.
“They might be attending Yale, but they are living in New Haven,” he said.
Tchakirides said the NHPD hosted a College Safety night at the beginning of the school year, a time when Yale students were just beginning to become concerned with the wave of muggings close to campus. Despite much publicity, he said no Yale students attended the meetings.
“We just don’t know how to get through to you guys,” he said. “We don’t know how to get a large body of Yale students to listen.”
Although student turn out at yesterday’s meeting was low, some FOCUS members said they attributed this to the fact that many students are busy preparing for finals. Pavlovic said she hoped more students would come to future panel discussions.
FOCUS works mainly with rising sophomores and is heavily involved with community service.