Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Horrible News from Yale

The brutal murder of Annie Le, a graduate student at my alma stepmother, has been a horrible shock. The way the story is being covered has been very one-sided. I have a strong feeling that many reporters are going out of their way to transmit the message the university administration wants to be spread around: Yale is generally safe, this is an isolated and unfortunate occurrence.

Don't believe that, people. As somebody who went to Yale I can tell you that there is nothing isolated about what happened to Annie Le.

So here are some of the myths the media and the administration are spreading about how secure Yale is:

Myth 1. "Random acts of violence on campus are “pretty rare”. Not true. Maybe it is at other universities, but at Yale it is extremely common for the students to be mugged, assaulted, robbed, beaten up, menaced with all kinds of weapons and harrassed. I hardly know any one who has not been a victim of a crime on campus. 

Myth 2. New Haven is a safe place. "After a stretch of crime in the late 1980s and early 1990s, New Haven doesn’t feel dangerous today, said Jean Recapet, the general manager of Atticus Bookstore and Cafe, who has been working in the campus vicinity since 1982. “We feel like we are in a safe environment,” said Recapet." Of course, a business owner in a dangerous area of town has to say that. But anybody who has lived in New Haven (I lived around the corner from Atticus Bookstore and was one of the most regular patrons) knows that it is a very dangerous town and crime rate is extremely high. As a woman, I felt scared every time I had to go outside after dark. I'm surprised I was only assaulted once while living there. I think I have been lucky. If I start listing all of the cases where people I know personally were victims of crime on campus, this will turn into my longest post.

Myth 3. Yale buildings are secure thanks to swipe cards. This is such a joke. I regularly entered buildings without a swipe card. You just stand there for a minute waiting for somebody to use their card and just follow them in.

The reality is that there is a huge racial and class divide between the super rich Yale and the extremely poor town where it is located. There is poverty, anger, resentment, constant conflicts between the administration and the students or the administration and employees. There is this constant atmosphere of strife, of the administration treating the students (especially the graduate students) and the employees like total crap. It is so annoying that even after a terrible tragedy liike the murder of Annie Le Yale administration can't find the courage to recognize that our campus is VERY dangerous and something needs to be done right now to change things.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you on this one, except that Yale is indeed a "safer" environment than it was a decade ago. Al least some people may feel safer in the neighbourhood you mentioned.

The racial divide, the class tensions, and the lack of integration are the real problems of this desolate town. Annie Le's murder is a tragic event, and we are all with her family and friends. But the university never makes big cases out of the huge amount of homicides in New Haven. These happen elsewhere...

Facing this tragedy, my concern is that Yale's solution will be to put even more money into security. There are policemen and cameras everywhere now. I wonder what is next? If it gives some people the impression that the campus environment is safer, it does not go to the roots of the problem. It does not make the campus environment safe.


donna darko said...

I'm totally freaked out by this murder. Looking at him, I wonder if it was steroid-related i.e. steroid rage. Why would he suddenly freak out and kill someone like that? Then there's the town-gown relationship and class difference. She was going places, she might have been absent-minded five days before her long-planned marriage, he was resentful or jealous...