by William Edward Taylor and Joseph M. Taylor
Other than sending our children away to camp for the first time, there is little that occurs in parents' lives that makes them more proud and more emotional than sending a child to college. This moment marks a distinct change in the lives of both the parents and the student. The new college student is out on their own for the first time, given significant responsibility and expected to make good decisions all at the same time. Rarely do the students ease into the role over time. Parents want their children to be safe in their new environment, but until 1990 assessing the safety of a particular college campus was difficult to all but the security professional. Howard and Connie Clery experienced that difficulty first hand and suffered the worst loss a parent can experience-the loss of their daughter to a violent crime.
The Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990 was enacted in response to a particularly horrible rape and murder of a Lehigh college student, Jeanne Clery, in 1986. Only after the murder did Jeanne's parents learn of nearly 40 violent crimes that had occurred on the Lehigh campus in the three years prior to enrolling Jeanne at Lehigh. The Clerys were determined not to allow their tragedy to be experienced by others, so they diligently urged Congress to enact legislation requiring colleges keep a public crime log and to provide students and their families with the current crime statistics for the campus.
There have been several amendments to the Act since 1990, each time increasing the notice and rights to students and victims. In 1998, Congress renamed the Act in honor of the Clery's daughter. The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires institutions of higher learning to disclose annual crime statistics and security policies to students and their families. Failure to comply with the Act can result in substantial fines for the school. Under the Act, the schools must provide three years of crime statistics no later than October 1 of each year. The act also requires disclosure of each school's policies relating to sexual assault, victims' rights and information for students on how and where they can report crimes.
A key element of the act is that the information is automatically made available to students and their families. Prospective students are given notice of the existence of the statistics and policies. The Student Press Law Center provides an excellent list of frequently asked questions discussing the details and practical aspects of the law in its Student Media Guide to the Clery Act. Please visit this link to learn more about student and victim rights under the law. http://www.splc.org/legalresearch.asp?id=19
To better assist parents and students evaluate the safety and security of a particular campus, the Clery's non-profit organization, Security on Campus, Inc., has developed an audit form. You can print this form and use it during your tour of any campus considered. Here is the website: http://www.campussafety.org/students/audit.pdf
Go back to the articles