Clery Act aids in reporting university crimes

Arielle Lipan

Josoph M. Henry, a 20-year-old student at Lehigh, was convicted as the murderer and rapist, but Clery’s parents didn’t see that as the end. They sued the school, claiming if they had known the extent of the campus’ criminal activity, they never would have let their daughter attend.

After the successful lawsuit, the Clerys went to Washington D.C. to lobby for a uniform law requiring the disclosure of criminal activities on and around university campuses. Their actions brought forth the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, called the Clery Act for short.

The University of Alabama, in compliance with the Clery Act, releases two different reports each year: one for the UA Gadsden Center, which focuses on lifelong learning, and one for the main 
Tuscaloosa campus.

These reports aren’t limited to reporting crimes of a sexual nature, but that is what the focus centers on because those are the least reported crimes. According to the Clery report in 2014, victims or witnesses reported 14 counts of rape, three counts of fondling, nine counts of dating violence, three counts of domestic violence and two counts of stalking on campus. Victims or witnesses also reported two counts of rape, one count of fondling, two counts of dating violence and one count of domestic violence off-campus. All in all, there were 34 total counts of sexual crimes last year.

“Off-campus” actually accounts for two separate categories on the report: non-campus and 
public property.

Non-campus properties are UA owned off-campus places (or UA organization owned, like fraternities, three of which at the University are off-campus) or places the University has a written agreement for use of the premises. Non-campus also applies to any place that the University takes students for extended periods of time. A full list of the non-campus locations is in the report. Public property applies to properties immediately adjacent to the school.

Locations are considered on-campus only within the geographical bounds of campus, which limits the scope of those reports.

The numbers on the reports come from multiple sources, not just from police reports. In the years 1993-2013, this is necessary because 80 percent of student rapes and sexual assaults went unreported to police for reasons usually along the lines of not wanting to incriminate their attacker, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Anyone can file a Clery report, but there are a number of groups on campus that are required to file reports monthly with their superiors, even if there were no incidents that month. According to the report, these Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) include people employed by the University. This means residential staff, coaches, advisors and on-campus security. The only people not required to file reports are pastoral counselors or professional mental health counselors like at the Counseling Center, due to respective religious assignments and confidentiality agreements If someone still feels uncomfortable filing a report with their name on it to non-police, there is also a confidential reporting option in order to keep accurate statistics. Regardless if the reporter wants to press charges or not, the CSA is required to file a report, but it doesn’t require explicitly stating the name of the person reporting it. All of these reports end up with Sgt. John Hooks at UAPD, and reports can also be delivered to him directly.

UAPD keeps a running record of crimes in their lobby, which is different from universities like The University of Georgia who keep the logs accessible online. Along with this running record, the University is required to send out timely warnings to the public and students when a crime is committed within the Clery boundaries and still poses a risk to others (the UAPD alert emails).

When schools don’t comply with the Clery Act, they are fined $35,000 per violation with the risk of losing all federal funding to the school.

New amendments have recently been added to the Clery Act leaving a lot of “N/A” spaces on the report, meaning that category was previously nonexistent or is currently out of use. For example, the forcible rape category has now been split into rape and fondling. The report also includes the various methods of reporting anyone with information, student or otherwise, can take and a chart to demonstrate the flow of information once a report is received.

The last day to submit reports to be included in the 2016 annual report is Feb. 1.

The most recent report can be found here.