Feeling Safe on Campus? Annual Security Report Released
Yeshiva University’s Department of Safety and Security recently released its annual security report, which includes a record of all criminal activity committed on the Wilf Campus, as well as the various policies that YU has in place to deal with such crimes. The notice of the report’s availability arrived in email inboxes all around campus on September 30th, clearing the October 1st deadline imposed by the federal government for all universities and institutions.
As the first page of the security report states, “the purpose of the report is to provide the [Yeshiva] University community with accurate information about campus security policies, victim’s rights, and crimes occurring on and around the campus.” The survey is done in compliance with the Clery Act, the 1990 federal statute enacted after the rape and murder of Lehigh University freshman Jeanne Clery in 1986.
Donald Sommers, Chief of Security at YU, helps gather and organize the information for the report. “We have to compile the list of campus crimes from our security personnel as well as from the local [police] precinct,” says Sommers, whose résumé includes 24 years of service at YU and previous experience with the police. Legal advice from the Office of the General Counsel helps “fine-tune the report to ensure its accuracy and completeness as the law and regulations evolve.” Keeping a record of crimes and other offenses as dictated by the Clery Act and the Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act allows the University to gauge the success of the current security policies on campus.
The report also seeks to improve future safety, explaining that “the best protection against campus crime is an aware, informed and alert campus community; students, faculty and staff who use reason and caution; and a proactive security presence.” In addition to the orientation sessions that all students receive during their first week on campus, Sommers also mentioned other crime prevention programs that YU employs. “Alerts that elaborate on specific prevention procedures are sent out throughout the year to heighten awareness for both students living in dorms and apartments,” he explained.
An interesting feature of the report is that it publishes the exact statistics for certain crimes over a three-year span. The two most significant offenses were burglary and disciplinary referrals for drug abuse violations, though instances of robbery and liquor law violations were also reported. The numbers were not indicative of any specific trend; burglary, for instance, declined from thirteen incidents in 2010 to four in 2011 before climbing back to nine last year. For clarification, the report explains that burglary is “the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft,” and includes incidents of stolen items from dorm rooms, while the Clery Act defines robbery as “the taking or attempting to take anything of value from…a person by force or threat” (those familiar with the Talmudic distinction might ascribe the Hebrew terms ganav and gazlan to the two categories).
Students around campus were generally appreciative of the security report’s publication. Moshe Zisblatt, a Junior in YC, remarked, “We students have to keep track of all our work and extracurricular activities here at YU. It is reassuring to know that our safety is one thing that we do not have to worry about.”
In addition to the Wilf Campus, the security report also summarized the security and safety of YU’s Gruss Campus in Bayit Vegan, Israel, whose only crime was an occurrence of burglary back in 2010. The annual fire report, which was released together with the annual security report, simply listed the various policies and procedures for fire safety, and reported two incidents of fire on the Wilf Campus during the past year: one oil candle spill during Chanukah and one “electrical fire caused by an overloaded outlet” at 24 Laurel Hill Terrace. Separate reports were issued for the Beren and Cardozo campuses.
The full report is available for review online at http://yu.edu/safety-security/reports/security/.