Yesterday James Jones, the President of Trinity College, sent a message directed at Trinity students, staff, faculty, and parents, and potentially, to Hartford residents.
While careful to say Trinity does not want to cut itself off from the community, administrators described how the college may add cameras, fencing and police to the periphery, along with potential changes to the landscape:
January 25, 2012
Dear Trinity Students, Faculty, Staff, and Parents,
We write to update you on our efforts to improve campus safety at Trinity. As mentioned in our previous message to the campus community, we want to be deliberate in our efforts to make changes that are effective and lasting. We have visited other campuses in the Bronx, Boston, New Haven, and Bridgeport to examine best practices at other urban institutions. We have met with private security consultants and will, as mentioned in our previous email, host a visiting team of campus safety professionals who will do an external review of our staffing, protocols, training programs, and allocation of resources. We have also heard many constructive ideas from students, staff, and parents. While we want to make sure we factor in all the expert advice we can get, it is increasingly evident that we need to make some critical changes.
Back in December we told you that we would increase the number of officers on patrol and improve lighting. Under the leadership of Director Charles Morris, the Campus Safety staff has organized a tactical patrol of five additional officers during the hours of 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. who will focus on the periphery of campus in the areas of Summit Street, Crescent Street, and College property on Allen Place. We will be hiring five additional officers to permanently staff this team and rely on overtime until we are able to hire additional officers. We have, working with students from the Campus Climate Council, identified several areas on campus where we are adding new lighting and we have replaced or upgraded 275 lights across campus. We have also put in place an auditing program to ensure prompt repair when a light is not working. These efforts will increase the visibility of our Campus Safety patrols and provide better and more lighting. But we realize these efforts alone are not sufficient to make our community feel as safe as we would like.
We have received a formal proposal from the SGA and have heard from some faculty and staff and numerous parents and students that we need to do more to monitor access to the campus at certain times of the day. We have no intention of withdrawing our welcome to the local community to enjoy the benefits we extend to them, but we need to do more to discourage criminal activity that undermines safety and creates resentment and fear instead of appreciation for the assets of Hartford. At its meeting last week, the Board of Trustees authorized us to explore strategies for how we can do more to manage the routes of access to the campus. We are in the process of selecting a security consulting firm to help us determine the feasibility of such a plan. It would most likely require some additional fencing, landscaping, and cameras in critical areas and could mean providing internal access to some of the parking areas on the periphery of campus that are currently accessed from the city streets to allow for controlled access.
We want to hear from the campus community as we develop our plans. We also want to assure you that we have no intention of separating ourselves from Hartford and diminishing the mutually beneficial relationship we have with our neighborhood and the city. That is a relationship we want to see grow. Our focus remains on providing the highest level of safety and security for all members of our campus community.
We will write again to update you on our planning process as soon as we have the recommendations of the consultant and our visiting team. In the meantime we wish all of you the best for the new semester.
Very truly yours,
James F. Jones, Jr.
President and Trinity College
Professor in the Humanities
Dean of Students
None of the added safety measures address the most common types of crimes that occur on college campuses, which involve students violating the rights of other students, nor does it address how students are violating their own safety through binge drinking.
The 2011 Campus Safety Annual Report indicates a large number of disciplinary actions take for drugs and alcohol on campus, but only a small amount of actual arrests for those crimes:
There is no language in the annual report that suggests that any of the reported crimes were committed by individuals not part of the college community.
The weekly safety reports posted on the Trinity College Campus Safety page provide more details about the nature of crimes occurring there.
During one week in November 2011, there were four alcohol incidents, two of which resulted in hospital trips — one to the Children’s Hospital:
From September 25, 2011 – October 2, 2011, there were a number of alcohol incidents that resulted in eight individuals (seven students and one visitor) taken by EMS to Hartford Hospital for observation and treatment. During the week of September 17, 2011 – September 24, 2011, there were four students taken to Hartford Hospital for observation after drinking. In a separate incident that week, a student was actually arrested for DUI because he drove through a fence and almost into the Campus Pizza restaurant.
Another student received disciplinary action for receiving 1/4 pound of marijuana in the mail:
Weekly reports from the Fall 2011 semester reflect other types of crime too — like a student fleeing a cab to avoid paying his fare.
Much of the reported crime involved thefts when individuals left belongings in unlocked rooms or when they gave their room codes to others.
One week, the entire (approximately 1000 copies) campus newspaper was stolen, presumably because a group on campus was unhappy with an article written about them.
In September 2011, a student reported verbal harassment by other students. This harassment involved homophobic language.
The assaults and robberies were described with inconsistency. Some include no description of the assailant, but others are attributed to groups of African American or Hispanic men. No explanation was given for the absence of physical descriptions in most of the reports. Only a handful of reports indicate that the criminal was in fact neither a student nor visitor.
President Jones or Dean Alford have stated “we want to hear from the campus community as we develop our plans,” regarding campus safety measures. President Jones can be contacted through his two assistants by email or phone.
UPDATE (1 Feb 2012): Six days after this piece was published, the Courant ran an editorial “Spike in Crime Poses Dilemma for Trinity” (31 Jan 2012). In addition, a reader alerted me to a discussion happening on Facebook during January about Trinity College campus safety; the discussion includes this remark:
In all sincerity, what reason do Hartford locals have for being on our campus at 8pm or later?
That question deserves an answer. Cinestudio, which is located on the Trinity campus, is a theater independent of the college. This is one reason for “Hartford locals” to be on campus after 8pm. Also, typical of most colleges and universities, Trinity schedules events that are open to the public, such as the annual Chamber Music Series. In addition, showing goodwill for the community it is located within, Trinity College has permitted the use of some of its buildings for NRZ meetings. Those are all widely accepted reasons for locals being on college campuses after dark.