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The Clery Act

January 3, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

In 1990, the Clery Act was passed. This act supports Title IX legislation because it promotes community awareness and transparency regarding crimes. The crimes include sexual violence occurring on or around college campuses.

Definition of the Clery Act

The Clery Act is an important piece of legislation that was named for Jeanne Clery. She was a student at Lehigh University who was raped and then murdered in her school’s residence hall back in 1986. The Clery Act is a federal law implemented across all universities and other educational campuses in the US. It requires that every university publishes crime statistics regarding their campus and provide public information about the campus violence prevention programs and safety policies.

All schools must comply with the provisions in the Clery Act if they want to continue receiving federal funding. The United States Department of Education is responsible for monitoring schools and making sure that they’re in compliance with the law.

The Violence Against Women Act, commonly abbreviated VAWA, was passed in 2013. This piece of federal legislation expanded upon the crime reporting obligations outlined in the original Clery Act. Following the implementation of the VAWA, universities are required to also publish reports regarding domestic violence, stalking, dating violence, and sexual assault.

The VAWA requires that a school publishes an Annual Security Report, update and maintain a public log of crime, and notify the community on campus when crimes are perpetrated on campus. Schools are also required to keep records regarding their prior eight years of crime statistics, and to have this information readily available at a moment’s notice.

Clery Geography

The phrase “Clery Geography” is a reference to the areas of college campuses that are specifically covered by the provisions in the Clery Act. There is a slight variety depending on the size of the university and the layout of the campus. As a general rule, though, the following locations qualify to be included in the reports:

  • The college campus, including all the buildings and land owned by the university
  • Any buildings owned by the school, even if they exist off the official campus land
  • Frat houses and sororities
  • Public property and areas near the university campus
  • Remote classrooms off campus
  • Residence halls both on and off the school property
  • Any areas in which athletic events, extracurricular activities, or club meetings are held
  • School parking lots, parking garages, and any other parking facilities

Crime Statistics on Campuses

Based on the legislation in the Clery Act, colleges have to release an Annual Security Report in October of every year. The report has a summary of the past three years of the campus crime statistics. Each report must be made available through a university’s website, and it must have detailed information regarding the dates, locations, and nature of any crimes committed.

Universities are required to publish information about the following types of crimes:

  • Hate crimes
  • Sexual assault
  • Stalking
  • Dating violence
  • Domestic violence
  • Murder
  • Burglary
  • Theft of motor vehicles
  • Arson

One important thing to note is that the statistics are compiled based on crimes that are reported. Not all of the crimes that are reported will result in convictions or even in the pressing of criminal charges. The goal of the report is to determine when and where criminal activity took place, even if the perpetrator will never be held accountable for it in the judicial system.

Campus Safety Policy Disclosure

The security report has more than grim statistics about campus crime. It’s also required to include information about how to report crime to university officials. Each report includes details regarding the specific safety policies and implemented procedures on the campus.

Each campus will have slightly different security measures and safety policies depending on the culture, the size of the university, the history of crime on and around the campus, and the available resources. A school might provide public safety training, offer crime prevention and educational programs, and explain the school’s plans in compliance with Title IX legislation.

Every report must provide the following information regarding campus safety:

  • How the school responds to and investigates crime reports
  • How victims can maintain confidentiality if desired, and whether confidentiality is an option
  • Through what channels and means the school provides timely warnings about recent campus crime
  • How employees and students can access information from the local sex offender registry
  • What standard of evidence is necessary for disciplinary procedures to be implemented
  • How the university compiles and analyzes crime data provided by off-campus student organizations



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