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Campus Safety and Security

Questions and Answers

What is the Jeanne Clery Act?
The "Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act" (formerly the Campus Security Act) is a federal law that requires institutions of higher education in the United States to disclose campus security information including crime statistics for the campus and surrounding areas. It was first enacted by Congress in 1990 and amended in both 1992 and 1998.

Who is Jeanne Clery?
In 1986 Jeanne Clery, a freshman at Pennsylvania's Lehigh University, was murdered and sexually assaulted in her campus residence hall room by another student she didn't know. Her school hadn't informed students about 38 violent crimes on campus in the three years preceding her murder. Clery's parents, Connie & Howard, led the crusade to enact the original Campus Security Act. Congress formally named the law in memory of Clery in 1998.

Which schools must comply with the Clery Act?
All institutions of postsecondary education, both public and private, that participate in federal student aid programs must publish and disseminate an annual campus security report as well as make timely warnings. If the institution maintains a police or security department of any kind they must also maintain a crime log that is open to the general public.

What does a school have to disclose under the Clery Act?
Schools must publish and disseminate an annual campus security report containing various security policies and three years worth of crime statistics. They must also issue timely warnings about crimes that pose an ongoing danger. Schools with a police or security department of any kind must also maintain a public crime log of all crimes reported to that department.

Who is entitled to receive information under the Clery Act?
Currently enrolled students and employees are to receive a school's annual campus security report automatically. Prospective students and employees are to be provided with information about the report and entitled to request a copy. The general public, including parents and the news media, have access to the public crime log.

Can a school comply using a web site?
An institution may comply with their Clery Act obligations by using a web site and not paper documents so long as direct notice with the exact URL (web address) of the disclosure is provided to all required recipients. All notices must include a statement that paper copies will be made available upon request.

Does a school have to submit their annual crime statistics to the DOE?
Schools have to report their crime statistics to the DOE through a specially designed web site, instructions will appear on the ifap.ed.gov web site. The collection of calendar year 1997, 1998, and 1999 statistics in 2000 will be the first time this has been done.

Do school officials other than law enforcement have reporting obligations under the Clery Act?
All institutional officials with significant responsibility for campus and student activities have reporting obligations under the Clery Act. A school should have a policy for surveying these officials each year to determine if any of the covered crimes were reported to them. Only professional mental health and pastoral counselors are exempt from reporting.

Are schools required to include crimes reported to local police agencies?
Schools are required to "make a reasonable, good-faith effort to obtain statistics from outside" law enforcement agencies for inclusion in their annual report for all geographic areas including the main campus.

Can a school refer crimes to law enforcement for verification before reporting them?
Under the Clery Act an institution may refer a reported crime to law enforcement to verify that it occurred before reporting it. Verification is to conform to UCR standards.

Such referral is not prohibited by the federal Family Educational Rights Privacy Act.

Does someone have to be convicted of a crime before it is reportable under the Clery Act?
Convictions are not required under either the Clery Act or the UCR program for a crime to be reportable.

Who enforces the Jeanne Clery Act and what are the penalties for noncompliance?
The United States Department of Education is charged with enforcing the Jeanne Clery Act and may level civil penalties against institutions of higher education up to $25,000 per violation or may suspend them from participating in federal student financial aid programs. Complaints of violations should be filed with DOE regional offices.

When do schools have to add arson and manslaughter, as well as a geographic breakdown to their annual crime statistics?
Only statistics for calendar years 1999 and later must include arson, manslaughter, and a geographic breakdown. A school's first report with this information must be disseminated by October 1, 2000. Schools may report this information for previous years if they choose to.

What is the difference between FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program and the Clery Act?
There are several key differences between how crime statistics are reported under the UCR program and the Clery Act. The UCR program is a voluntary program where law enforcement agencies submit monthly reports, while reporting under the Clery Act is mandatory and not limited to crimes reported to law enforcement. Before the year 2000 Clery Act statistics were never centrally collected.

Additionally, some reporting categories are different, specifically simple theft is not included and the definition of sexual assault is broader under the Clery Act.

Does the Clery Act follow the guidelines established in the UCR program?
Where guidance from the UCR program does not conflict with Clery Act reporting requirements schools are expected to follow the classifying and scoring methods outlined in the UCR Handbook.

If more than one crime occurs in the same incident which offense is reported?
Under a UCR standard known as the "hierarchy rule" only the most serious (using the order found in the UCR Handbook) incident is to be reported in annual crime statistics. The crime log and timely warnings may reflect more than one crime.

DISCLAIMER: While the foregoing page contains a discussion of general legal principles and specific laws, it is neither intended to be given as legal advice nor as the practice of law, and should not be relied upon by readers as such. Before taking any action, always check with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction to ensure compliance with the law.