NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Pamphlets handed out to incoming Yale University students and their families over the weekend are causing some controversy in New Haven.
According to Yale’s police chief, the Yale Police Benevolent Association, which represents about 70 university police officers and detectives, created and distributed the flyers,
A copy of the flyer obtained by News 8 is titled “A Survival Guide for First-Year Students of Yale University” and has a picture of a skull on the front. The pamphlet then lists guidelines the association believes students should follow to stay safe, including staying off the streets after 8 p.m. and avoiding public transportation, and the words “good luck.” Another version is titled “Dangers of New Haven.”
“My mom even sent me a picture of it and said, “Stay safe!” I think it was just on a table for people to pick up,” freshman Puiyee Kong told News 8.
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker was joined by other city officials and leaders at a press conference Tuesday afternoon to denounce the flyers, which they said aimed to “create fear and stoke public safety concerns among new students and their families.”
“When you welcome someone to your community, you embrace them, and you support them,” Elicker said. “You ensure they are successful here. You don’t promote fear. You don’t promote misinformation.”
Yale’s police chief Anthony Campbell also had strong words.
“The spirit of our department is this: to serve every member of this community, to welcome them, and to make sure that we do everything we can to drive down crime and to give people a sense of safety.”
Officials with Yale said the union is currently in contract negotiations with the university. Campbell said it was their understanding creating and distributing the flyers was a “bargaining tactic.”
“I called the president of the union and said, ‘What in the world is going on?’ He expressed to me that they did not have plans to do that, but when the university approached them with their proposed dollar amount for the contract, they were offended, and members of the board of the union decided that something needed to be done, and this is what they decided to di,” Campbell said.
According to the city, over the past three years, violent crime is down 29%, and property crime is down 7.6% citywide.
“Yeah, we have our challenges, but it is overwhelmingly safe,” Elicker said.
News 8 spoke with Andrew Matthews, a spokesperson for the Yale Police Benevolent Association, following Elicker’s and Campbell’s remarks on Tuesday. Matthews said it’s not a contract issue.
“Of course, that’s what elected or appointed officials will say in an election year,” he said. “That’s not the case at all.”
Matthews also said the statistics presented in the pamphlets were a way to educate students and spread awareness of what they see in the city.
“I think you could also find people equally that were grateful and thankful for being made aware so that they can protect their own safety and think about how they should conduct themselves in a city environment,” Matthews said.
First-year students News 8 spoke with said they feel safe on Yale’s campus.
“We know it’s a great campus, with great people, and I still feel safe really nonetheless,” Janice Hur said.
In a statement, Yale University said they are committed to the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, neighbors, and visitors.
“We unequivocally condemn the irresponsible and reckless actions of those who chose to spread this inaccurate information.”