Two men not affiliated with the University intruded on a Davenport College happy hour and were removed by police Friday night, raising possible security issues in the residential colleges.
Though the incident did not escalate because students and police responded quickly to the situation, witnesses said, the trespass follows complaints that compromised security may have led to several robberies in Pierson College over Thanksgiving break. Students and college masters generally said residential colleges are safe, though simple safety measures like leaving doors open can lead to easily avoidable intrusions.
Officials from the Yale Police Department could not be reached for comment on Sunday night, and though witnesses saw officers escorting the men away, they were not sure whether or not the men were arrested.
Geordie Kaytes ’08 said he was at the happy hour in Entryway C when the men arrived around 11 p.m. He said the men, whom he described as being about 30 years old, were not especially disruptive but clearly did not belong there.
“We talked to them and asked them to leave, and someone called the police in case we couldn’t get them out in reasonable time,” Kaytes said. “We were still talking to them when the police came, and the police led them out of Davenport.”
Rebecca Taber ’08 said she called the YPD when she saw a few of her friends talking to the two men in the stairwell. She was not too disturbed by the situation, she said, but called the police as a precaution.
“I just went over to the Davenport happy hour, and I saw a bunch of my guy friends standing in the stairwell talking to these two guys who were clearly not from Yale,” she said. “I decided to call the Yale police because I didn’t want my friends to have to deal with it.”
Both Kaytes and Taber said they did not know how the men gained entrance to Davenport, but assumed that the trespassers followed students through one of the gates, which they said take a relatively long time to close.
Kaytes said that though he was not too bothered by this particular incident, it does bother him that the men were able to enter the college. Students were lucky the men had ended up at the happy hour, he said, rather than in empty student rooms they could have robbed easily.
But the students said the incident has not made them especially concerned about safety in their residential college.
“If anything, it reaffirms my confidence in the Yale Police as a great resource to have,” Taber said. “I think [residential security is a] concern at every college and I’m not particularly worried.”
Davenport College Master Richard Schottenfeld said he had not seen a police report for the incident and could not comment on the specifics of it. But he said the residential colleges are generally safe as long as students exercise simple safety measures.
“The safest thing to do is close the gate behind you and not let other people in,” he said. “We all feel it might be rude and a bit of a nuisance to close the gate behind us, but … I think it could it make a big difference in terms of security.”
Schottenfeld said the same care should be applied to entryway doors, which have alarms — as they do in all renovated colleges — if they are kept open for too long, though they can be circumvented. Open doors, he said, can look too much like open invitations to intruders.
He also said he does not think the cold season — when darkness falls earlier — has much of an effect on attracting intruders.
“I think people are opportunistic all times of the year if entryways are open and room doors are open,” he said. “There are always people who would take advantage of that.”
Should an outsider manage to enter the college, he said, students in a group should politely ask to see identification. But if a student is alone, he said, he or she should be more cautious. Residents in such situations should go their rooms, lock their doors and call security, he said.
Saybrook Master Mary Miller said students and faculty should be aware of outdoor lighting in and around the colleges, as poor lighting can make students more vulnerable to crimes.
According to Department of Education statistics, there were 35 burglaries in Yale residence halls in 2005, as compared to 38 in 2004 and 28 in 2003. Statistics for 2006 are not yet available.