Several leaders of the Graduate School Assembly voiced their concerns regarding student safety to the Yale Police Department, the New Haven Police Department and Yale Transportation at a security meeting Wednesday afternoon.
During the discussion, GSA members complained of overcrowded shuttles, poorly-lit sidewalks and inconsistent police patrolling in neighborhoods occupied by graduate students. While a relocation of security resources away from Yale’s central campus is unlikely to happen, graduate students felt that the some parts of the city — specifically the East Rock and Mansfield Street communities — are poorly policed.
“I just think that there’s been more focus on the undergraduate population,” GSA Chair Joori Park GRD ’17 said. “Its not intentional. It’s just the University culture.”
To address this concern, GSA Transit and Security Committee Chair Ankit Disa GRD ’16 suggested expanding Yale’s blue-light phone system to the East Rock and Wooster Square neighborhoods, where many students live, and increasing police patrols of off-campus areas during the night. The YPD’s patrol boundaries border but do not completely cover the East Rock neighborhood. These areas, as well as Wooster Square, have been the sites of several attempted robberies in the past few weeks.
GSA Representative Fabian Schrey GRD ’19 said graduate students often feel unsafe walking back home to these areas later in the day, adding that Yale shuttles are often full to capacity during these times. Park said transportation in New Haven is often a security issue, especially during peak hours.
“We think these things are very much interrelated,” Schrey said. He said the addition of more shuttles would reduce the need for as many Yale Security officers during peak transportation hours.
Schrey said Yale police officers are highly visible during the day, but seem to “disappear” around 6 p.m.
Still, YPD and Yale Transportation officials said it was unlikely that more attention could be given to off-campus areas because their resources are constrained.
“The thinner you spread yourself the less effective you are,” YPD Lieutenant Michael Patten said. “It all boils down to money.”
Director of Yale Security Dan Killen encouraged the use of both the walking-escort and door-to-door shuttle services.
But the shuttle service is not able to serve everyone — on an average weekend night, Yale Security usually receives over 1,000 phoned requests for shuttles, but are only able to give 500 rides to students.
Schrey said many students use the shuttle service out of laziness and convenience rather than because they feel unsafe. Several students, including GSA Secretary Elizabeth Salm GRD ’18, asked whether Yale Security could give priority to students who feel unsafe. However, Killen said drivers are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Graduate students who do not use the shuttle service and walk or bike home each day said there were many areas of campus, including Science Hill, that were poorly lit. YPD Lieutenant Joseph Vitale said that lights are regularly being fixed and that New Haven is in the process of switching to brighter LED lights.
No formal agreements were made during the meeting to change security on and off-campus, but the precedent for change exists. A similar security meeting in November 2014 on the medical school campus resulted in the extension of police patrol hours and the increased visibility of police officers and cars. Even though no changes were implemented on Wednesday, students felt that the purpose of the meeting had been to inform students and administrators, rather than enact change.
“The more that we know, the more we can help you guys, and the more you can help us,” GSA Representative Christopher Price GRD ’19 said.
Correction: Feb. 19
A previous version of this article misspelled the last name of GSA Transit and Security Committee Chair Ankit Disa GRD ’16.