Letter: Clery Act makes campuses safer
A recent opinion (“Crime reporting isn’t creating safer campuses,” April 4) needs more context. The piece focused solely on reporting statistics, which are only one aspect of Clery Act requirements. What it did not acknowledge are some of the primary reasons the Clery Act exists.
If a college student is a victim of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, they have specific rights and options available to them, like various reporting options, written information about on- and off-campus resources, and accommodations like change of housing, living, transportation, or working situation, to name a few.
If there’s an active shooter on campus, members of the campus community receive information in real time via emergency notification so they can take actions to protect themselves.
If a student living in a campus residence hall is missing, the campus has a policy that guides swift action to inform loved ones and collaborate with local law enforcement to address the situation.
Thinking of a Clery Act officer as only being responsible for leading the institution’s compliance efforts related to statistics is shortsighted. A Clery coordinator plays an important role in ensuring the various offices implementing Clery Act-required policies — the foundation for an institution’s prevention of and response to campus crime — can all effectively work together.
Can there be improvements to Clery Act implementation? Absolutely. This federal law applies to a wide range of institutions, each with their own unique structures and campus cultures.
It’s an example of why guidance from the Department of Education, which enforces the Clery Act, and access to training and resources like those we provide at Clery Center, are vitally important. It’s also why there have been amendments to the Clery Act over the years: to account for specific needs within campus communities, most recently amendments that influence an institution’s response to dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
What this article highlights, for me, is a misunderstanding of the value of the Clery Act, not just by the authors, but also one we sometimes see among the broader higher education community.
We always strongly encourage a campus to use the information they’re required to compile and make it more widely available and easily consumable, such as sharing in videos, on social media, or on their website.
We sincerely hope institutions are getting the resources they need for all aspects of campus public safety, including the security cameras and educational programs described in the original piece. In fact, many institutions have told us that they’ve been able to use the Clery Act to garner more of these resources, because it has done more to professionalize campus public safety than any other federal requirements.
We hope that with more education, the community will start to think of the Clery Act not as time-consuming statistics and bare minimum compliance, but rather the blueprint to aim higher and build a more cohesive structure to change the culture around campus safety and security at our colleges and universities.
Abigail Boyer, interim executive director