College To Take Steps To Increase Security

In response to the recent surge of robberies in the campus area, the Office of Student Life announced that the College is taking additional steps in conjunction with the Harvard University Police Department to deter crime.

The steps include increasing the number of officers on patrol during late evening hours and encouraging Harvard’s security guards to “adopt a more visible stance,” according to an e-mail Dean of Student Life Suzy M. Nelson sent to undergraduates.

“The University is continually reviewing security measures and makes decisions based on the facts and circumstance present at that time,” Nelson wrote in an e-mail statement to The Crimson.

Nelson declined to comment further on her e-mail.

Faculty of Arts and Sciences spokesman Jeff Neal declined to comment on the nature of Harvard security’s more visible stance or any other security measures yesterday evening in an e-mail.

There have been 10 robberies on or near campus since Nov. 1.

In the e-mail sent to the College, Nelson also urged students to be more vigilant and take measures such as locking doors and windows, storing HUPD’s emergency number, and making use of the Harvard University Campus Escort Program.

The program made 40 escorts this November, doubling the number of escorts they made during November 2009, according to information from HUPD spokesman Steven G. Catalano.

But this October, before the crime spree began, HUCEP made only 10 escorts, indicating that students have reacted to the increase in crime by turning to available safety resources.

Student reactions to the recent spate of crimes have been mixed.

“I try not to walk around by myself past 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.,” said Nicole D. Legnani ’03, who is now a Ph.D. student and lives in Harvard housing near the botanic garden.

Legnani said when she was an undergraduate, she used to walk around Harvard alone at 2 a.m. but has changed her attitude since the recent crimes began.

Some other students said the crimes did not make them more wary at night.

Catherine R. McCourt ’14 said she has not changed any of her usual practices because of the recent incidents but said she normally travels in groups late at night.

“I live in Boston anyways so I know these things happen,” McCourt said.

Some students said that they had not heard about the increase in crimes.

Others said they thought that the College is doing what it can to prevent crime, given Harvard’s urban location.

Lagnani said that it is difficult to say what else could be done besides putting more officers on patrol at night when most crimes have occurred.

McCourt suggested that the College could lock Harvard Yard’s gates, but he said such a measure would isolate Harvard from the community and make it inconvenient for students to enter and exit campus at night.

Akshay M. Sharma ’14, an Undergraduate Council representative of Ivy Yard, said he thinks that HUPD is “doing a phenomenal job” combating crime on campus.

—Staff writer Heng Shao can be reached at shao@college.harvard.edu.

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