The Clery Act was named after Jeanne Clery (see picture above), who was raped and murdered in her dorm room by a fellow student on April 5, 1986. Her parents championed the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) in her memory. This Act is a federal law that requires colleges to report crimes that occur “on campus” and school safety policies. This information is available each year in an Annual Security Report (ASR), which can be found on your school’s website. The Clery Act also requires schools to have timely warning when there are known risks to public safety on campus.
The Clery Act also contains the Campus Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights, which requires colleges to disclose educational programming, campus disciplinary process, and victim rights regarding sexual violence complaints. The Clery Act was recently expanded by the Campus SaVE Act, which broadened Clery requirements to address all incidents of sexual violence (sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
When is a Crime Considered “On Campus”?
Crimes that occur on schools grounds and within school owned building qualify for reporting under the Clery Act. Some schools may also be required to record crimes at certain non-campus facilities, like Greek houses or public property adjacent to the institution. Also some off campus properties qualifies as “on campus” under this Act, like remote classrooms and buildings owned by campus groups. Which locations qualify for reporting is very school specific, so if you are unsure if a location qualifies you should contact a lawyer or expert organization, like the Clery Center.
What is a “Timely Warning”?
Under the Clery Act, any time a crime has or is occurring that poses a serious or ongoing threat to the rest of the campus, the college must provide timely warnings in a way that is likely to reach every member of the campus community. This requires schools to assess the risk to public safety after an incident of sexual violence is reported. Often times, a stranger perpetrated sexual assault will trigger a timely warning. A school’s decision not to issue a timely warning is reviewable under the Clery Act by the U.S. Department of Education.
How Does the Clery Act Help Me?
The Clery Act requires schools to explain their policies and procedures on campus in the wake of sexual violence. This should include who you may report such an incident to and what possible sanctions may be imposed as a result. It should also list available resources (such as available medical care, mental health resources and other support options either on campus or within the local community) to victims on or around campus, as well as inform you of your right to request reasonable accommodations on campus in the wake of sexual violence. Such an accommodation could include changing housing or an academic schedule to avoid seeing the accused student. You also have several rights during campus disciplinary proceedings, such as being informed at every stage of the process, having the same rights as the accused to have an advisor present, to appeal a final decision, and to receive a final decision in writing at the same time as the accused.
The Clery Act requires reported crime statistics to protect your confidentiality while alerting the public to possible safety risks or incidents on campus. The school has an obligation to inform you about your rights regarding to whom you can formally report sexual violence if you wish a criminal prosecution, to facilitate that process if desired, and to know you have a right not to report and still receive support from the school.
Finally, the Act protects against retaliation, as does Title IX. Colleges cannot intimidate, threaten, coerce or discriminate against you for reporting either explicitly or implicitly. For example, no college employee may urge you not to file charges with police or a formal complaint with the school, your good academic standing or ability to graduate cannot be threatened, nor are you required to sign a non-disclosure agreement to get the results of a disciplinary hearing after you have made a formal report to the school.
Is Your College Compliant with the Clery Act?
The best way to find out is to review the school’s ASR. The ASR must be publically accessible on the school’s website and in an easy to understand form that includes the incidents of crime and its final disposition or current stage of the disciplinary/investigatory process. If the most recent ASR is not available on October 1st, or there is not notification to current students and employees that it is available on that date, your college is not in compliance.
Campus police or security must provide information on recent reports within two business days, unless it jeopardizes and investigation or victim confidentiality, in their Clery Crime Log. If a report you made is missing from the log or is mischaracterized in the log then your college is not in compliance. Common violations include failing to list Greek houses or other locations that are not physically on campus, but still covered under the Clery Act. If you believe your school has left off crimes from locations related to campus, your school may not be in compliance.
Listed crimes should include: murder, manslaughter, sex offenses, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglary, motor vehicle thefts, and arson. Schools are also required to report hate crimes, which include larceny-theft, simple assault, intimidation, destruction, damage, or vandalism of property, and other crimes regarding bodily injury when the victim was selected based on gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, or religion must be reported specifically as crimes of prejudice.
How Do I Report a Clery Act Violation?
The U.S. Department of Education enforces the Clery Act, so complaints can be filed through their Clery Act Compliance Division at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on filing a complaint, visit our resource here. Schools that violate the Clery Act may face warnings, up to $35,000 per violation fines, the limitation or suspension of federal aid, or the loss of eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs. If you are unsure if your school has violated the Clery Act consider seeking a lawyer or non-profit, like the Clery Center, to review your case.
–Hope Brinn and Yana List