Safe and sound, thanks to the Clery Act

Clery Act’s involvement in college campus safety.

Byline: Mary Gail Lee Ayos, Staff Writer

Valley College supports the Clery Act, an act the Department of Education claims to keep the campus safe for all students.

The Clery Act defines campus authorities such as a campus police department, individuals with campus security responsibility designated by the campus, and officials with significant responsibility for student and campus activities.

“The Department has the responsibility to ensure that our higher education institutions are creating safe environments for students,” stated Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education. “And are appropriately reporting crimes that occur on or near their campuses.”

Campus authorities are responsible for recording and reporting crimes that are stated or reported by both students and faculty and the annual report must be forwarded by each campus authority or designated liaison (for larger departments.)

Any individual such as students, faculty, or a non-affiliated individual can report a crime to the campus authorities. The campus security and authorities are responsible for collecting and reporting these incidents and crimes such as murder, forcible sex offenses, non-forcible sex offenses, aggravated assault, simple assault, domestic violence, dating violence, manslaughter, stalking, robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson, all of these crimes can be reported to them.

The Department of Education proposed new rules, on June 19. The rules would implement changes to the Clery Act under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. This is an attempt to provide a better perspective of the environment in which sexual assaults of students take place on campus grounds.

“These new rules strengthen schools’ capacity to provide safer college campuses for students and to keep everyone better informed about campus security policies and procedures.” said Duncan.

These changes add gender identity and national origin to define hate crimes under the Clery Act. Federal law requires all institutions to disclose information about campus crimes. Colleges are required to allow both the accuser and the accused to be accompanied by an adviser of their choice during disciplinary proceedings. Though, colleges can still limit how the advisers participate, the new rule represents shifts the statue since originally, institutions controlled which types of advisers students could have.

These changes are strengthening the protection of the victims confidentiality while aiding their access to support services and legal options; which requires disciplinary proceedings, and appeals.

The Education Department has also added new members to the Clery Act enforcement. The department partnered with the FBI to audit a random sample of institutions, a practice that revealed issues involving crime, data reporting and the lack of policies to ensure compliance. It also now consists of a staff dedicated to conduct investigations.

Each violation of the Clery Act or misrepresentation can result in civil penalties, up to $35,000 per violation. The Department of Education could also suspend institutions in their participation in the federal student aid programs.

New regulations specify that the Clery Act reports will not require investigations. These final regulations changes are due to be published by November 1st, and will take effect by July 1, 2015.

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