Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis said he cannot recall any major security issues on the Singapore campus.
While Yale Police Department has received 187 reports of crime on and around campus since the semester began, Lewis, along with students interviewed from Yale-NUS, cited the surrounding area of Singapore as a primary reason why the campus has experienced so little crime. But according to students interviewed, security threats are not completely absent, and there could be better ways for the campus to keep itself safe.
Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis said he cannot recall any major security issues on the Singapore campus. Lewis, along with students interviewed from Yale-NUS, cited the surrounding area of Singapore as a primary reason why the campus has experienced so little crime.
“Crime is much less of a problem in Singapore than it is in New Haven or New York,” Lewis said. “With the setting, we don’t worry too much about it.”
But according to students interviewed, security threats are not completely absent, and there could be better ways for the campus to keep itself safe.
The Singapore Police Force, in its annual briefing, reported 32,196 cases of crime in 2014 for the island’s population of 5.4 million — one crime for every 168 people in Singapore. In New Haven, data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System reveals that, in the same year, 5,716 cases were reported for a population of 130,000. Thus, the Elm City reports one crime for every 22 people.
Yale-NUS Senior Manager of Facilities Eugene Tan said the crimes that Singaporean universities face most frequently are theft, vandalism and the import of contraband items. Yale’s Deputy Press Secretary Karen Peart said the most frequently reported campus crimes in New Haven are thefts of electronics and bicycles, and instances of vandalism and import of contraband items are rarely a problem in New Haven.
Kevin Low YNUS ’17 said security emails are almost always sent out in the aftermath of an incident as a reminder to students to remain aware of security threats.
However, Walter Yeo YNUS ’17 said that despite the campus being a safe environment overall, administrators have not been particularly effective in responding when crime does occur, particularly on-campus thefts.
“They immediately assumed that the perpetrators [of on-campus theft] were not from within the college,” he said, even though, he added, the circumstances surrounding the cases of on-campus theft gave the contrary impression.
Jason Carlo Carranceja YNUS ’18 said public access to the primary school building is another concern. This building is currently on lease from the National University of Singapore, and a public bus station is located on the first floor of the building. Carranceja said that after a series of thefts of students’ belongings on campus, students asked the administration to take action. Even though he said the response took “quite some time,” elevator access is now restricted to the floors where students live.
Tan said that in order to make the Yale-NUS campus safer, students and staff need to take a more active role in watching out for their own security.
“Singapore is often regarded as a very safe environment, and sometimes students and staff can be lax regarding simple security measures such as keeping doors locked and valuable items safely stowed away. This can create an opportunity for petty crimes,” he said. “It is this sense of awareness that we need to inculcate in our community.”
Jacob Schneidewind YNUS ’18 said the administration sent out a survey asking students if they had been victims of theft in light of incidents that took place during previous semesters. After the survey, Schneidewind said security guidelines were changed. In particular, he said that doors are now locked and require an access card both on weekday nights and all day on weekends. Students also need to use access cards to get to residential floors via elevator. Hrishi Olickel YNUS ’18 said she is not aware of any security-related emails that have been sent out since this new system was put in place, which was at the beginning of this semester.
Low added that these new security precautions were made in an effort to minimize the presence of people from outside the Yale-NUS community after hours, which he thought was an appropriate step for the administration to take.
Carranceja said students sometimes take for granted Singapore’s low crime rate — and think that this means they can leave out laptops and phones in common spaces on campus. Despite this, he said on-campus theft is usually limited to petty theft, and does not include theft of gadgets like phones or laptops.
Yale-NUS security efforts are led by Tan, in conjunction with the offices of the Dean of Students and the Rector.
Correction: March 30
A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Yale-NUS Senior Manager of Facilities Eugene Tan on first reference.