The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Police and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or the Clery Act, is an important part of crime on campuses all over the United States. It is a federal law and applies to colleges and universities, since 1990.
The History Behind the Act
The Act is named after Jeanne Clery. In 1986, she was sexually assaulted and murdered by a fellow student at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. During the investigation, Jeanne’s parents, Connie and Howard, learned that there had been 38 violent crimes on the campus in the previous three years. To help give a warning and more transparency, her parents led the fight to pass a nation-wide reform to change the disclosure requirements for other students. It was originally titled the Campus Security Act, but in 1998, Congress officially named the law in memory of their daughter.
What Does the Act Require?
Colleges and universities collect statistics and security information for their campuses. They release a report each year to disclose this information to the public. These reports are overseen by the U.S. Department of Education so they can conduct a general assessment on the information. Special reports might be conducted in high profile cases, when the media points out a cause for concern, or a complaint is submitted. If the reviews and audits come up with problems, the Department can take appropriate action against the school to ensure all criteria are being met.
Schools release their reports no later than October 1, as required by the law. Schools are required to publish their Annual Security Report and not in an obscure place. Students and faculty are notified that the report is complete and information on where to find it. Parents, the media, and anyone who wants to look at the information can also find it. Any crime committed is included in the report, even if it was reported anonymously.
Which Crimes Get Reported?
The Clery report covers crimes from the previous three years and includes more than just crime in the campus classrooms. Crimes that are reported have occurred in one of the following areas:
- Other student housing facility
- Parking areas
- Buildings owned or controlled by a student organization
- Public areas on, around, or adjacent to the campus that are accessible by students
The school may choose to still alert students and faculty about risks in the areas outside of those outlined, but they may choose to not include them in their Security report. The crimes that they include are rape, fondling, statutory rape, aggravated assault, arson, and burglary and robbery on any scale. Police officers and campus security officers fill out reports that are collected and stored in programs that help with records management. These reports are kept to date for easier annual report and in case of special reviews.
On top of the crime statistics and security protocols, schools are also required to give students warnings in a timely manner about any threats to the campus community. This applies to predators on the loose, patterns of crimes in the area, school shootings, and other terroristic acts. All schools who participate in federal student aid programs are required to comply with Clery reporting requirements, whether they are public or private.
These reports have done a lot for faculty, students, and parents. Reviewing the reports can help anyone make better, more informed decisions on housing, enrollment, and the general level of safety on any campus. It has also helped campuses develop better security measures and safety protocols. While it doesn’t bring Jeanne back, the Clery’s have done well to help promote safety for other students.