safety first by flickr user alex (svoalex), cc license

After a very big spring in Clery Act and campus sexual assault news (including this White House Task Force report & this campus map), the past two weeks have provided plenty more in Clery Act-related stories. Catch up on this important campus safety news below.

What is the Clery Act? If you’re a college parent or student and are not familiar with this piece of legislation, you should take a few minutes to learn about it.

  • From StudentAid.Ed.Gov:

“The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act is a federal statute requiring colleges and universities participating in federal financial aid programs to maintain and disclose campus crime statistics and security information. The U.S. Department of Education conducts reviews to evaluate an institution’s compliance with the Clery Act requirements. A review may be initiated when a complaint is received, a media event raises certain concerns, the school’s independent audit identifies serious non compliance, or through a review selection process that may also coincide with state reviews performed by the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Service (CJIS) Audit Unit. Once a review is completed, the Department issues a Final Program Review Determination.”

publish an annual safety report; have a public crime log; report on specific crimes (including homicide, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, liquor violations, drug violations, weapon violations, and hate crimes); enact emergency response systems and testing protocols; inform campus about ongoing dangers; enact policy and protocols for handling the cases of missing students; report fires to a federal source.

Recent News about the Clery Act, with specific focus on campus sexual assaults


Inside Higher Ed: Information from the Federal Summit on Campus Sexual Assault

“A leading forensic consultant urged representatives from more than 60 colleges and universities gathered here Monday to acknowledge that they’ve made mistakes in handling campus sexual assaults and to apologize publicly to student survivors.

“‘We must apologize for causing that harm,’ David Lisak, the consultant and clinical psychologist, said. ‘And that apology must mean something.’

“Lisak is one of the many speakers discussing sexual assault this week at a summit hosted and organized by Dartmouth College — an institution that is no stranger to criticism about how it has addressed sexual violence. The college is one of 67 institutions under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for possible Title IX violations related to sexual assaults.”

Clery Center: Upcoming Training on Campus Assaults and Prevention

Where Title IX & the Clery Act Meet in Prevention & Response to Campus Sexual Assault: August 21, 2014

Inside Higher Ed: Colleges Often Win Reduction of Fines for Federal Campus Safety Violations

“Since the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 formed a specialized unit to enforce the federal campus safety law known as the Clery Act, an increasing number of colleges have faced fines for violating it.

“Department officials over the past four years have finalized the penalties against 15 institutions, compared with the six total fines doled out during the previous decade. Many more cases are currently making their way through the process, and the department plans to double, over the next few years, the number of regulators dedicated to Clery Act enforcement.

“In spite of that increased scrutiny, colleges facing penalties have continued to be successful in getting their Clery Act fines reduced, according to data provided by the Education Department.

“Far more often than not, colleges are able to either persuade officials to lower the fines or enter into a settlement through which they pay a lower amount than the department had originally proposed. Of the 21 Clery Act fines that have actually been imposed on colleges since 2000, 17 have been lower than the department initially proposed, the agency’s data show.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Colleges Must Make ‘Good-Faith Effort’ on Clery Act Compliance, U.S. Says

“The U.S. Department of Education said on Monday that colleges must make a “good-faith effort” to comply with changes in the campus-crime reporting law known as the Clery Act before the department issues final rules outlining how colleges should work to prevent crimes such as sexual assault and domestic violence.

“When Congress renewed the Violence Against Women Act last year, the Clery Act was amended to require colleges to collect statistics on incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Last month the department issued proposed rules that define those terms. The rules would also require colleges to train students and employees on preventing such incidents.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education: It Takes a Campus to Stop Assaults

“Men, as well as women, need the opportunity to talk and ask questions about the dynamics of their relationships with their peers, and the opportunity to explore the ethical implications of various courses of action: If my friend is constantly making degrading comments about women, should I say something? If another friend is circulating a sext message with nude photos of his former girlfriend, how should I respond? If I’m at a party and see a guy I know who’s trying to get a stumbling and obviously inebriated woman to leave with him, what should I do? Do I have a responsibility to her? To him? To myself? To whom can I turn for ideas or support? What have others done in similar circumstances?

“Bystander education at its best does more than teach skills for intervention. Its short-term goal is to prevent assaults. But its long-term goal is to change the underlying belief systems and social norms that tolerate or encourage sexist and abusive behaviors. This is sometimes an uphill fight, especially in a media culture where the sexual objectification of women is pervasive, and men’s callous cruelty toward women is sexualized in pornography, music lyrics, and elsewhere.”

Times Higher Education: Jake New of Inside Higher Ed: US universities must ‘acknowledge mistakes’ on handling sexual assault cases

“A leading forensic consultant has urged representatives from more than 60 US colleges and universities to acknowledge that they’ve made mistakes in handling campus sexual assaults and to apologise publicly to student survivors.

“‘We must apologise for causing that harm,’ David Lisak, the consultant and clinical psychologist, said. ‘And that apology must mean something.’

“Dr Lisak was one of the many speakers discussing sexual assault at a summit hosted and organised by Dartmouth College – an institution that is no stranger to criticism about how it has addressed sexual violence. The college is one of 67 institutions under investigation by the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for possible Title IX violations related to sexual assaults.

“Student unrest about a variety of issues, including campus sexual assaults, culminated in protests on the Dartmouth campus this year, and student groups warned prospective students via advertisements on social media that Dartmouth had a ‘rape problem’. Applications to the highly selective college fell 14 per cent, a drop that college officials blamed in part on its reputation for rowdiness and sexual assault.”

Diverse, Issues in Higher Education: Effort to Answer Call on Sexual Assault Gaining Momentum Nationwide

There were 30 Title IX complaints in 2013 against U.S. colleges concerning their mishandling of sexual assault cases and 55 in the first half of 2014. With the additional coverage when President Obama established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault this past January, the issue of sexual assault already has seen an unprecedented amount of attention this year.

“‘I’ve seen so many students attach their name to a case of sexual violence, whereas in the past students would maybe identify as Jane Doe,’ says Alison Kiss, executive director for The Clery Center for Security on Campus. ‘Students are saying, ‘I really want to see changes on my campus for other students and change across the country.””

MSNBC: A Conversation about Campus Sexual Assaults

[q]: “I don’t fully understand the concept here. If you’re raped, regardless of where, shouldn’t the police be called immediately? Why, if it happens on a campus, is the school allowed to interfere with a criminal investigation?”

[a] “Meredith Clark: No one is required to report crimes to law enforcement, on or off of college campuses. Schools have a responsibility under Title IX to investigate reports of assault, and are required to report crime statistics under a law called the Clery Act. Schools conduct separate investigations, that do not carry criminal penalties, but that can lead to academic penalties such as suspension or expulsion. A lack of communication between schools and local police, a lack of understanding of community resources for survivors, and poor training for school and law enforcement can lead students who report assaults to campus counselors, RAs, or other school officials without accurate information about their options.”

[q]: “What does Title IX have to do with unrelated crimes by intervening 3rd parties?”

[a]: “Meredith Clark: Schools are required to conduct an investigation into all reported sexual assaults under title IX, and if a student feels the investigations were not done properly or were influenced unfairly, they can file a complaint. Title IX governs gender equity in educational opportunities, so any school, from kindergarten through universities, must make sure that students are not prevented from accessing education. The government has ruled that schools have a responsibility to make sure that victims of sexual assault and some other crimes do not see their educations suffer because the schools did not adequately accommodate them to ensure security and care after an assault.”

Time: Colleges Are Breaking the Law on Sex Crimes, Report Says

“Many American colleges and universities are bucking federal law in their handling of campus sexual assaults, according to a survey released Wednesday by a top lawmaker on the issue.

“Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, said the results reveal a broad failure by many schools but also offer possible solutions as she and a bipartisan group of lawmakers draft legislation to address the problem. They’re likely to produce a bill around the time students head back to campus this fall.”

Diverse, Issues in Higher Education: University of Connecticut Settles Sex Assault Lawsuit

“The University of Connecticut will pay $1.3 million to settle a lawsuit by five women who alleged the school did not take seriously their claims of sexual assaults on campus…

“University officials adamantly denied that they have been indifferent to reports of assaults and did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement. They said the legal fight would be costly and bad for UConn’s image…

“The university remains the subject of a Title IX investigation by the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.”


Lehigh Valley Live: Attempted rape, choking of Lehigh University student brings attention to off-campus safety

The Star Press: Ball State addresses ‘incapacitated sex assaults’

“Ball State University is beefing up its staff and student conduct code and creating a new hearing panel to deter sexual assault, many of the victims of which are incapacitated by alcohol or drugs.

 “The university’s board of trustees on Friday approved a new, 32-page “Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy” that is 24 pages longer than the previous policy. 

 “The trustees also approved the creation of a new Sexual Misconduct Board to hear student complaints including dating violence, humiliating speech, posting nude photos on social networking sites, cyber stalking, exposing one’s genitals without consent, sexual orientation harassment, sexual activity with an incapacitated person and many other types of prohibited conduct described in eight pages of the new policy.”