On the most recent episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, the Clery Act was mentioned briefly. Law and Order is known for taking recent news stories, changing them a bit, and then broadcasting the show to millions of viewers every week. Many of the terms and laws they discuss on the show are real, including the Clery Act. While the Clery Act is not a household name, prospective college students and their families should be aware of the information the Act provides.
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistic Act, better known as the Clery Act, is all about crime information on college campuses. The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal aid programs, such as the Pell Grant and Stafford Loans, to disclose crime information that happens on or near their campuses. Specifically, all colleges and universities are required to:
- Publish an Annual Security Report (ASR). This report is required to be updated every year by October 1 and will document the three previous years of campus crime statistics. This report is required to be available to anyone who requests the information and on the website of the institution.
- Maintain a public crime log. Most colleges and universities have campus security offices or campus police. These offices are required to maintain a public log documenting the activity, date, time and location of the crime and must be logged without two business days. This log should be available to the public to review upon request.
- Disclose crime statistics on and near campus, including Greek housing and on-campus facilities. This information is gathered from campus police or security and local law enforcement departments. The report will include information on homicide, sexual offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson. The report will also provide information on liquor and drug law violations, illegal weapons possession, and hate crime information.
- Issue timely warnings about crimes that pose a threat to students and employees. This can include sending out emails or text messages to the campus community about recent crimes and possible threats.
- Devise an emergency response, notification and testing policy. This require institution to inform the campus community about emergencies and have an emergency response plan for crimes related to the Clery Act, as well as other emergencies such as earthquakes and fires.
- Publish an annual fire safety report. Colleges and universities with on-campus housing must report fires that happen in on-campus housing. Institutions must provide an annual report similar to the Annual Security Report and make a fire log available to the public.
- Maintain policies and procedures for handling reports of missing students. This requirement was created to minimize delays during the missing student investigation.
Crime is not something that colleges want to advertise. Colleges and universities will not boast about crimes that happen on their campuses in the promotional publications they give to prospective students. Therefore, students must dig deeper to get more information about the colleges they are considering, and this includes crime information. Typically, the information is easy to find on the institution websites by searching terms such as “campus safety” or “crime statistics.” In addition, prospective students and their families can also reach out to the campus safety departments or the admissions office to get the information. No matter how a student gets the information, prospective students should review the information and take the crime information into consideration as they are narrowing down their college list.
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