On August 14, 2008, then-President George W. Bush signed the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), which includes among its wide-ranging mandates several items that directly impact security at U.S. colleges and universities.
The HEOA makes six amendments to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. Under the Clery Act, colleges and universities that participate in federal student aid programs must a) publish annual reports that contain three years of campus crime statistics; b) disclose crimes reported on the campus and nearby areas; and c) keep a log of all crimes reported on campus. The Act is named in memory of Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University student who was raped and murdered in her dorm room in 1986. Clery’s parents discovered after her murder that the university had not told students about 38 violent crimes that had occurred on campus in the previous three years. Clery’s parents were a driving force behind the passage of the Act in 1990.
The HEOA amends the Clery Act in the following ways:
• Requires institutions to include in their annual security reports a statement that the institution will “immediately notify the campus community upon the confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or staff.”
• Expands required reporting of hate crime statistics to include larceny-theft, simple assault, intimidation and vandalism.
• Requires institutions to disclose whether they have agreements with state and local police for crime investigation.
• Prohibits retaliation against individuals who report neglect in the implementation of any provision of the Act.
• Requires the U.S. Department of Education to report to Congress annually on Clery Act compliance and implementation work.
• Exempts foreign institutions located abroad from Clery Act reporting obligations.
The Department of Education may levy fines for noncompliance up to $27,500 per violation. Few schools have been fined, but the penalties that have been doled out have been substantial. For example, in 2007 Eastern Michigan University was fined $357,500 for numerous violations.
As budgets tighten, university safety and security departments may find themselves with limited resources and personnel to maintain the required logs and reports required by Clery. However, local and college newspapers looking for stories could expose potential violations through modest effort. Now is a good time to review the requirements of this Act and assess your institution for compliance.
Marleah Blades is senior editor for the Security Executive Council (SEC). The SEC maintains a large and growing list of laws, regulations, standards and guidelines that impact security (). Help the Council fill out the list and receive a selected complimentary metric slide from our store.