New Haven has a bad stigma associated with it; as a resident of New Haven for approximately four years now, I have only feared for my safety 10-20 times (granted, that is a considerable amount). But New Haven should not be known for its crime rate because there is something much more troubling…
Now, I don’t plan on suggesting that you are wrong about wanting to move out of New Haven. It’s not for everyone. But there are some issues I have with what you’ve written. I won’t tackle every point, just some of the major ones.
In reverse order:
New Haven has a very good school system, both public and private. In fact, New Haven is actually the face of School Reform in the entire nation. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/opinion/kristof-the-new-haven-experiment.html). This is because of the success of programs like achievement first, and the promise of scholarships from your most hated of institutions. Yale pays for every single New Haven student to go to a state school, or even Yale (it still has a right to accept only the best), if they maintain a B+ (I believe) GPA, without any sort of trouble. They’re probably biting their lips because the program was a lot more successful than expected.
I would agree that New Haven is certainly Yale’s bitch, but without it, there wouldn’t be any of the other institutions around. While the streets are always paved, there’s less crime, and an “air” around Yale’s campus, there are many great things in the surrounding areas that are there because of a connection with or direct involvement of Yale. The Yale University Art Gallery, The Peabody Museum, and Beinecke Library are obvious examples. But what businesses wouldn’t exist without Yale here? Would there be Louis Lunch? or Modern Apizza? It can be argued that New Haven only had the infrastructure to support businesses like these because of Yale’s presence.
And while they have an atrocious habit of buying up plots of land and letting only certain tenants in, especially around campus, they also pay the highest wages in the area and are the largest employer. They may be leading to the gentrification of a large swath of New Haven, but they also pay incredible wages. A Part-Time book shelver at one of their libraries might make upwards of 12 dollars an hour. The catering staff starts at 17. Naseema and I survive at around 20 combined. Without such a large institution, New Haven would not be able to function at its current size.
As for public transportation, while it is slow and ineffectual, almost all public transportation is slow and ineffectual. This is not a symptom of New Haven or Yale, but a symptom of all American cities. Adopting a positive public transportation system like some South American countries could solve many of our problems, but that has happened nowhere yet. What I can say is that not only does Yale offer this service, but UNH, SCSU, and UCONN at least. It’s part of the package. It is not wrong for a University to prioritize their clientele, and it is almost like classes; if you did not pay for them, you don’t get to use them.
Fashion is certainly a part of being a Yalie, I will give you that, but fashion is also not out of reach. As I know, both of us are veteran second hand clothes wearers, it’s not hard to find decent clothes if you know what to look for, or if you are approximately the same size as people you know. Secondhand clothes are so plentiful and so cheap that if you do not want them after you’ve bought them, then you can usually resell them on eBay, some times at a profit (which I have taken to doing). There are many better ways to address the problems of income inequality (such as your pointing out the oblivious difference between the homeless and well-to-do on the green)(I have a book on homelessness on the green if you want to read it, btw)
But lastly, as a scientist, you should know that one building does not a data set make. I cannot discount events of racism and hatred that you’ve felt in your apartment building, your experiences are your own. But that is the essential part of that claim, your experiences are your own. Competing for parking spots is a natural problem of city-dwelling, but city-dwelling does not entitle one to a parking spot. It sucks, we’ve all had to deal with it, but a car does not come with designated parking spots. And other people have most likely been displaced by your car as well.
Unfortunately, shitty land-lords and neighbors are part of every landscape. I tend to say fuck it and fix half the things that go wrong myself, or let them deal with it when we move out. And while section 8 has become a proxy for a certain kind of person, you must know that that isn’t always the case. Most people who take advantage of this are reticent to admit it. As would I, because of the stigma. The problem is a belief of knowing why they were on section 8 in the first place. I partially take offense to the unemployed slight for the same reason, someone I hold very dearly is right now unemployed. What constitutes fulfilling is very different for many different people. While we have some idea as to what should be considered fulfilling, we cannot say that will work for everyone. I will never ever give a shit about NASCAR, but talk about MLB and I’m there. I will never go out of my way to learn about Insects, but talk about Birds and I’m there.
As far as threats go, that is against the law. You have every right to call the police to report these incidents, and should. The law doesn’t work without cooperation of the people.
I’m not trying to convince you to stay; fuck, I’m not even trying to stay. But I do feel that some of your concerns could be addressed simply outside the framework of this particular city and this particular institution. Most cities with large institutions are like this. That’s how most cities got to be this way. New Haven/Yale’s relationship is both a blessing and a curse. It creates dilemmas and problems for some, and solves them for others.
You should be proud, though, that you were able to stick it out in a city you patently do not like because of your values (on education in this instance). That is something that makes a difference in any city you choose to live in.