Student safety is of utmost importance on college campuses, so you may be curious where you can learn more about how safe your student’s campus has been in recent years. Here I will describe the context of crime reporting on college campuses and where you can look for this institution for your student’s campus.
The Clery Act is named in memory of Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University student who was raped and murdered in her Residence Hall in 1986. At the time of the attack, the University had experienced 37 other violent crimes within the previous 3 years and her parents argued if they had known that before she enrolled, she would have gone to a different school. Her parents sued the institution, were awarded $2 million in damages, founded a non-profit named Security on Campus, and successfully lobbied congress to pass the Clery Act in her memory. The Clery Act requires several things from all Colleges and Universities which will be discussed below.
Annual Security Report (ASR)
The Clery Act requires every College and University to publish and distribute an Annual Security Report (ASR) every year on October 1. This report provides:
- information about crimes committed on or around the campus within the previous three years, policies related to campus safety
- descriptions of crime prevention programs
- a list of the procedures a school follows when investigating alleged offenses.
Schools are required to widely distribute their ASR to all current and future constituents and must make the report available in both online and written formats. If you search for the words “Annual Security Report” along with the name of your child’s institution, you should be able to find it. If not, you can request a copy by speaking to any of the support offices and they are required by law to make it available to you.
The Clery Act requires a campus’ security or police department to maintain a public log of all crimes reported within the last 60 days that took place on or around all campus locations. Crimes included within the logs can be divided into four main categories:
- Criminal Offenses includes criminal homicide (murder and non-negligent manslaughter, manslaughter by negligence), sexual assault (rape, fondling, incest, and statutory rape), robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson.
- Hate Crimes are any crime motivated by perpetrator bias against the victim based on race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, and disability (whether actual or perceived)
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) offenses were included beginning in 2013 and include domestic violence, dating violence, and Stalking.
- Arrests and Referrals for Disciplinary Action includes weapons law violations, drug abuse violations, and liquor law violations
Newly reported crimes must be entered within the Crime Logs within two business days (unless it would jeopardize an ongoing police investigation). Each entry needs to include the nature, date, time, and general location of each crime, along with the disposition of the complaint if it is known. Data from these crime logs must be kept from the previous seven years.
Institutions are required to provide timely warnings of any crime covered by Clery statistics that represents an immediate threat to the safety of students and employees. College and University policies about Timely Warning are required to be published in the ASR. Schools will often encourage students and families to sign up for various texting programs which allow them to deliver these timely warnings to a student’s, employee’s, or parent’s phone.