In 1986, Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old student attending Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was raped and murdered in her dorm room. Her attack was one of several violent crimes that had recently occurred at the university. Jeanne’s parents sued the university and eventually took their fight to Capitol Hill, claiming that their daughter would not have attended the university had its crime record been disclosed.
Today, the Clery Act, named in Jeanne Clery’s honor, requires colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to track and disclose information about crime on and near their campus.
Some requirements of the Clery Act include notifying students promptly when there is a threat to campus safety, providing support to survivors of criminal acts and sexual misconduct and publicly releasing an Annual Security Report, or ASR.
There are many steps a school must go through when compiling its Annual Security Report. All crime statistics, other than hate crimes, need to be represented in a tabular form. Hate crimes have more specific rules about how they can be reported. There are also specific requirements about how the report is distributed, as well as how schools must confirm that distribution.
There are no grace periods and no exemptions to the ASR deadline. Every year, colleges and universities have to take a significant amount of time to prepare these reports. Institutions that don’t meet the deadline could be out of compliance with the Clery Act.
Federal penalties for noncompliance begin at $35,000 per violation. To ensure that colleges and universities are compliant, the department of education recently created the Student Aid Enforcement Unit. A major function of this department is to ramp up the number of annual Clery Act reviews.
Institutions need to ensure that every crime is documented, accurately categorized, and then safely maintained for several years. Some items an ASR must include are:
All Clery Act records must be stored for three years from the latest publication to which they apply. This means, because they appeared in the 2016 report, colleges and universities must have the stats from 2013 available until Oct. 1, 2019.
Although putting together an ASR may seem like an overwhelming task, there are tools that colleges and universities can use to help make the job a bit easier. Schools that use a web-based information management system daily to monitor emergencies and log crime reports already have easy access to the Clery stats they will need to submit.
For example, all crime reports that are stored in this incident management tool can be tagged with identifiers, so the crimes can be correctly categorized for Clery reports. In addition, any Clery specific forms that are included in the handbook can be digitized to facilitate automated generation of reports.
While the Clery ASR requires crime statistics to be presented in a tabular form, college administrators may want reports where the stats are represented differently, such as a bar graph or pie chart. An incident management tool can easily do that and these reports can be generated very quickly. Finally, it serves as a secure repository for all this information for as long as the institution wants and/or is required to keep this information on hand.
By utilizing an incident management tool, colleges and universities are not only improving the accuracy of their ASRs, but also reducing the time and resources needed to create them.