A female robber entered Branford College Saturday afternoon in an attempt to obtain money from an undergraduate student. The incident ended with the student sending the robber away in an Uber ride.
No injuries were reported, and no weapons were involved, according to a campuswide email sent by Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins. The undergraduate victim was sitting alone in the Mendell Room when the crime took place at approximately 4 p.m., Higgins’ email said. The perpetrator entered the room and demanded money, but the victim indicated that she did not carry money with her. Still, the robber insisted that the student get some from other students and prevented the student from leaving the room. The robber eventually exited the premises after the victim had arranged an Uber ride.
Head of Branford College and public health professor Elizabeth Bradley said in an email to the News that she sent a note to the female student after the incident and that Branford Dean Sarah Insley has contacted the student directly.
Bradley added that the Yale Police Department is still actively investigating how the robber was able to enter Branford’s premises. Bradley said it is hard to know whether the robber gained access to the college by following students who swiped open the gate.
“This was a very unusual event,” Bradley said. “I cannot think of a time since I have been the head of college where a similar event happened in Branford.”
In a February email from Stephen Davis, Pierson’s head of college and a religious studies and history professor, Davis informed students in Pierson that there were several instances in which New Haven residents unaffiliated with the University tried to spend the night in Davenport common spaces. The email further cautioned Pierson students against letting other people “tailgate” through the college’s gate.
Davis also wrote that although he strongly believes in creating a welcoming and hospitable environment within a residential college, his role as a University administrator demands that he collaborate with students to ensure adequate privacy and security on campus.
“This is a delicate balance that requires genuine sensitivity and concern for others, but also a certain intentionality about the ways we can act for the welfare of those with whom we live in community,” he wrote.
Bradley added that having students feel safe and secure is critical and that Branford will continue to work with YPD on these security issues.
Julia Ding ’19, a Branford student who returned to campus but was not in the Mendell Room Saturday afternoon, said she was initially surprised to see that the robbery took place in an undergraduate residential college, citing past emails from Higgins that alerted the Yale community about crimes on the periphery of campus.
Ding said that it is possible that the robber slipped through the college gate or asked students to swipe her in, citing the two as common occurrences. She added that she dislikes the idea of increasing security as a reaction to this incident, explaining that she does not want to discontinue a community culture in which people hold doors and are generally polite to one another.
YPD Lieutenant Von Narcisse said anyone who has information regarding this incident can call the YPD at (203) 432-4400 or send an anonymous text tip through the Bulldog Mobile LiveSafe app.
This post was updated to reflect the version that ran in print on March 27.