Providing a safe campus to students depends a lot on compliance with the Clery Act.
The Act requires colleges and universities to record and disclose the crimes that happen on their campus. It also mandates several safety protocols for colleges to follow.
What are the requirements of the Clery Act?
- Disclosing campus crimes in an Annual security report
- Keeping a crime log
- Timely warnings of ongoing crimes to the campus
- Procedures for responding to emergency situations
- Missing student notifications
- Fire safety procedures for student housing
- Following the Campus sexual assault victim’s bill of rights
Institutions participating in Title IV funding need to fulfill these requirements. Read on to find out how you can become compliant with the Clery Act.
What you need to do for complying with the Clery Act
Disclosing campus crimes
Colleges need to document and report the details of crimes that happen on their campus. Crime logs should cover the date, time, nature and place of the crime. The Clery Act specifies a list of crimes that colleges need to cover, such as, manslaughter, robbery, theft, sexual assault, hate crimes and so on.
The recording of crimes should happen in a crime log, which students can access on request.
The disclosure needs to happen through an Annual Security Report. The ASR needs to carry statistics of all Clery crimes reported during prior three calendar years, and that occurred either on-campus or off-campus properties, or on public properties next to the college campus. The report should disclose the statistics for unfounded crimes as well.
Fire safety for student housing
Colleges that have on-campus student housing facilities need to publish an Annual Fire Safety Report. The report should disclose the fire statistics for the previous three years. And, it should also include the fire safety systems put in place, and policies and procedures for handling fire incidents.
Missing student notifications
Colleges with student housing facilities must also follow the missing student notification regulation. They need to have policies and procedures in place that should go in effect within 24 hours of determining that a student living on-campus has been missing for 24 hours.
Notification of the annual security report
Students, guardians, and employees should receive a notification of the publication of the ASR. Colleges need to send this notification to prospective students and employees as well. And if a person requests for a hard copy, the college must comply and fulfill the request. Everyone should get the notification by Oct 1, every year.
Note – Due to the COVID-19 healthcare emergency the date has been changed from Oct 1 to Dec 31, 2020.
Timely warning, emergency notification, and others
Other basic requirements of the Clery Act include –
Issue timely warning notices
Colleges need to share crime information and issue emergency warning notices to the campus community in a timely manner. These warnings should be specific and timely enough to prevent damage to people or property.
Emergency notifications and response
The administration must put in place a system for handling emergencies, such as an active shooter on campus, or detection of a spreading COVID-19 infection. The system should include sending out immediate notifications in case of an emergency.
Policies and procedures for campus safety
Colleges also need to have policies and procedures in place for ensuring safety of people and property on their campus. Students and staff should have open access to these documents.
Annual campus safety and security survey
All the covered institutions also need to take part in the Annual campus safety and security survey. You need to send the crime and fire statistics for the prior three years to the Department of Education via their web-portal.
The Department of Education can hold an institution liable for incorrect crime data. In 2019, University of Montana was penalized for under reporting sexual offenses. It paid a $1 million penalty to settle the charges.
Colleges need to put in place a robust infrastructure for collecting and recording crime and fire statistics. This includes
- Putting in place policies and procedures for
- Reporting, collecting and recording crime statistics
- Fire safety
- Recording reported fires
- Missing students notification
- Addressing sexual violence
- Identifying campus security authorities, or the CSAs of the college
- Creating a system for collecting crime information from their CSAs and the police
- Maintaining a crime log
- Publishing the annual security report and the fire safety report by October 1, every year.
Handling complaints of sexual assault
The Clery act also requires you to follow the Campus Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights. Administrators need to ensure that the bill of rights is followed when acting upon complaints of sexual assault. This includes –
- Ensure the confidentiality of the victim.
- Complete the Clery Act procedures without disclosing the victim’s identity.
- Notify the victim of the available supportive measures, including counseling, new accommodation, changing the academic calendar, and the option of reporting to the police.
- Allow the accuser and accused to have others present during investigation.
Intimate the two parties of the final determination by the hearing panel.
Colleges need to publish information on campus grievance process, and educational programs put in place for addressing sexual violence on campus in their annual security reports.
Campus Security Authorities
Proper Identification of your campus security authorities plays an important part in Clery Act compliance. The annual security report shouldn’t just carry crime statistics obtained from the local police, but it must also include crimes reported by the CSAs of your institution.
The list of campus security authorities includes –
- Members of campus police department
- Security officers who are not a part of campus police
- Employees who significant student responsibilities
- Employees appointed as CSAs by the college
Campus security authorities can record crimes for Clery purposes without having to compromise the confidentiality of the victim. The Clery Act allows students to report crimes to CSAs without having to file a formal complaint.
As stated above, the department of education can hold colleges responsible for underreporting crimes under the Clery Act. Institutions need to put in place a robust system for Clery compliance. Training of staff, faculty and students is equally important.
You need to have a Clery Act awareness training in place for your campus community. Everyone should become aware of the value of the Act, institution’s obligation to record and disclose crime information, and how a person can report crimes to a CSA. The training should also cover topics such as timely warning, emergency notification, and the victim’s bill of rights.
The campus security authorities of your college too should receive similar training. The objective of the CSA program should be to train them on their duties under the Clery Act, and how timely reporting can help the campus police handle ongoing crimes and emergencies.
These training programs should be held early in the school year along with the mandatory sexual harassment, sexual assault, Title IX and fire safety training.
Although the Clery Act requirements are complex and need a lot of effort from college administration, they are necessary for creating a safe and secure campus.
Are you a CSA for your college? How effective is your crime reporting program? Do all crimes get reported? Why do students on your campus avoid reporting crimes? Please share your point of view on the Clery Act compliance program of your college in the comments below.