In 1991, the murder of Christian Haley Prince ’93 — a fourth-generation Yalie — sent the University’s campus into shock. For decades, the Elm City suffered high numbers of violent crime and reports of homicides that dotted local and national papers, coloring how people viewed Yale University.
But in recent years, city officials and University administrators have emphasized that a better town-gown relationship has helped make Yale and New Haven safer. Still, an article published by WTNH earlier this month stated that Yale was the most dangerous campus in the state of Connecticut and among the least safe in the country.
The News’ analysis of the data provided in the University’s Clery Report — which details on-campus and off-campus crime data from the past three years — indicates a general decrease in most categories of crime. The University has reached the lowest crime rate in the past 20 years, the News has confirmed.
The News analyzed data from two separate sources: the 2019 report circulated by the University, which contains crime statistics for 2018, 2017 and 2016, as well as the U.S. Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security Statistics database, with the same statistics from 2001 through 2017.
Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins and University Title IX Coordinator Stephanie Spangler did not respond to requests for comment. University spokesperson Karen Peart directed the News to the Fall 2019 Public Safety Report.
In 2018, 23 instances of burglary, 10 accounts of rape and nine cases of stalking took place on campus in student housing. Instances of burglary, the most common crime on campus, have decreased in recent years. The second most frequent crime in student housing was rape, followed by stalking.
You can explore the breakdown of campus crimes in the interactive visualization above — just hover over each label to see the number of crimes in that category. You can also explore data for different years using the dropdown menu.
According to the Clery Report, there have been 69 drug violations, 29 motor vehicle thefts and 22 robberies on public property in the past three years. A total of 109 burglaries happened on campus, 58 of which occurred in student housing. Twenty-three of these burglaries were committed in the 2018 calendar year alone.
As the Clery Report states, the News’ analysis of crime demonstrates that criminal activities have generally decreased both on and off campus in recent years. Across on-campus student residences, arrests have decreased every year since 2013, and disciplinary actions have been declining since 2012. Across on-campus locations not designated as student housing, arrests have fallen every year since 2012, with the exception of a small bump between 2015 and 2016.
According to the page-long Fall 2019 Public Safety Report — which is a page long — the decrease in crime can be attributed in part to the University’s efforts for student safety. For example, Yale offers door-to-door safe rides and investment in crime prevention programs. The University has also contributed to several revitalization projects in the downtown area, including the opening of Patagonia, L.L. Bean and Lululemon.
While instances of most crimes have decreased over the years, Yale has seen a record number of sexual misconduct cases in recent years. In 2014, there were 52 reports of such misconduct — including sex offenses, rape, stalking, fondling, dating violence and domestic violence — 13 of which were reported instances of rape. In 2017, the number of crimes classified as sexual misconduct climbed to 73, of which 17 were rape.
Despite the general downward trend in criminal activity, there have been periodic spikes in some illicit activities. For example, the city saw an unprecedented number of drug and alcohol violations in 2012, leading to 189 arrests that year. In 2017, this figure shrank to just 27 arrests. Theft experienced a similar spike in 2015, soaring to 69 reports of robbery on campus, but it dropped to 37 in the following year.
In an interview with the News, YPD Community Engagement Officer Martin Parker did not attribute the spike in burglaries to any specific reason. Parker said that since 2015, “we’ve all looked at those stats and thought about what we need to do in conjunction with the University.”
Parker mentioned a variety of initiatives to decrease crime rates on campus, including a rearrangement of Yale security officers’ positions on campus and increased diligence in patrolling. He explained that many cases of burglary result from students forgetting to lock doors and lauded the YPD’s safety orientation programming as an example of effective crime prevention.
“If people know what’s going on, they’re more diligent,” Parker said. “They lock their doors and their bicycles. In turn, crime rates do go down within the campus setting.”
In an email to the News, Yale College Council President Kahlil Greene ’21 affirmed YCC’s intent to improve campus climate and added that the council works closely with the Yale Police Department. Together, the YCC and YPD are working to build awareness surrounding crimes and prevention tactics, Greene said.
“While we are glad that burglary and drug crimes have not increased on campus, we find it very concerning that crimes related to sexual misconduct have,” Greene wrote in an email to the News. “To combat this, we are working with Stephanie Spangler and the Title IX office to foster a safer campus climate. Specifically, we are working with them to analyze the results of the AAU survey at the moment, with hopes to implement targeted solutions to the specific issues most pervasive on our campus.”
In interviews with the News, Yale students said statistics demonstrating decreasing crime rates helped relieve their safety concerns on Yale’s campus and in New Haven.
Justin Matei ’21 said that he appreciated that Yale “pours so much” into security and police to ensure the community’s safety.
“My freshman year, what freaked me out was when two guys pulled an armed robbery at [Timothy Dwight College],” said Razan Sulieman ’21, citing an incident in spring 2018 when two students were robbed at gunpoint in their suite. “Day to day, no, I never feel threatened.”
The Yale Police Department consists of 93 uniformed officers.
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About this story
The News downloaded data using the data download tool from the Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security database. Because the database only contains data from 2017 and prior, the News combined the database with the 2018 data found in Yale’s recent 2018 Clery Report. After merging and cleaning the data, the News used Google Data Studio, a free web-based data visualization tool, to produce the interactive graphics above.
Under the Clery Act, the federally mandated reporting guidelines use the categories on-campus student housing and all on-campus; the News subtracted the former from the latter to obtain the measure of on-campus non-student housing used above. The News defined sexual misconduct as sex offenses, rape, statutory rape, stalking, fondling, dating violence and domestic violence.
You can find the raw data files, scripts for cleaning and the cleaned dataset on GitHub.
Clarification, Oct. 23: The article has been updated to better reflect the circumstances of Christian Haley Prince’s death.