Provisions to Clery Act improve safety

The Obama administration announced last week that it had implemented new rules to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. The Clery Act, which was introduced to the Senate in 1989, is a federal statute that requires all colleges who receive federal financial aid to store and disclose all information about crime on or near their respective campuses. 

A statement released by the US Department of Education stated: The law and the new rule strengthen the Clery Act to more effectively address, and ultimately reduce, sexual violence on campuses, including domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.”

Under the new rules to the Clery Act, schools must now record incidents of stalking based on the location of where the perpetrator engaged the victim or when the victim first became aware of the stalker. In addition, institutions must add gender and national origin categories to serve as a basis for hate crimes. 

Schools need to now also disclose and describe the disciplinary proceedings that they have used in cases dealing with dating and domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Furthermore colleges need to disclose in a yearly security report, what measures and programs they have created in order to prevent these types of situations from arising. And the final addition to the act states that both the accuser and the accused will be afforded the same opportunities to have others present during their disciplinary hearings.

These additions will be the final time that the Clery Act will be revised. In 1998 it was amended to expand the reporting requirements that schools would need to make. In 2000 provisions were added which dealt with registered sex offender notification and emergency response systems. And in the most recent additions to the act, which were made in 2008, they added a provision to protect crime victims and “whistle-blowers” from any sort of retaliation. 

It should go without saying that a college campus should be a place where all students and faculty ought to feel safe. “I’m glad to know that they have been doing things to make us (students) feel safer around schools grounds.”  said senior Emilie Garcia. “Even walking back to my car after a night class can feel a bit unsafe.” 

It is no surprise that the Clery Act has targeted college campuses, as the problem seems to primarily lie within that age range. A report done by the Washington Post in July states that sexual offense incidents on college grounds have risen and continue to rise With the thousands of parties thrown each year around the country and the negligence that sometimes follows, this statistic shouldn’t really surprise anyone either. Acts and laws like the Clery Act are there to protect students who may not necessarily be able to protect themselves. Though acts like these will not eliminate all types of assault on campuses, it will surely help. 

The US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “The Department has a responsibility to ensure that all of our students have the opportunity to learn and grow in a safe environment.” 

This announcement comes only a few weeks after SSU Police Services announced that it will be re-establishing bike patrols not only on school grounds but in other parts around campus as well. 

The changes to the law were formally published last week and will be put into effect on July 1, 2015.