Clery Act serves, protects all students

By Shellie Turner
Special to In Motion

In 1990, the Clery Act was signed into law requiring colleges and universities participating in financial aid programs to disclose all incidents of campus violence.

Jeanne Clery 1966-1988
Jeanne Clery
1966-1988

Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University student, was murdered in her residence hall on that Pennsylvania campus in 1986. Her parents filed a lawsuit against the college after finding out about38 violent incidents on the campus over the previous three years. The heart of their argument was, had they known about these incidents, they wouldn’t have allowed their daughter to attend the university. This lawsuit led to the passage of the Clery Act.

The law requires that all colleges and universities participating in financial aid programs maintain and disclose information on crimes occurring on campus. A security report must be released by Oct. 1 each year. Since then, the law was expanded into mandates on development of security policies and how those on campus are notified when an incident has occurred.

Russ Gibbons, Manager of Campus Safety and Risk Management for Daytona State College, is responsible for compiling this data and releasing it to the campus.

“Each year we compile our crime statistics, which is something that I do,” Gibbons explained. “We look for certain criteria whether they meet the Clery reporting crimes.”

As required by the Clery Act, Gibbons also reaches out to the local police agencies for each of Daytona State’s  six campuses. Once that data is compiled, he publishes it in the annual security report and on the Department of Education’s website. The security report is emailed to students, faculty and staff each year and paper copies are made readily available.

“I keep copies by the ID machine and all of our officers are trained to give them to every student when they get an ID,” Gibbons said.

Keeping a constant security presence on campus and making sure the information is always available is the goal. Brochures about the many security policies are available throughout the campus and are distributed during events on campus. In 2014, Clery was further expanded to include sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking. Gibbons has published a book on how Daytona State College handles those crimes. Despite not having on-campus housing, Daytona State has a policy on how missing persons are handled.

“We aren’t required to report those under Clery,” he said, “but we do have those policies as well.”

The Department of Education performs periodic reviews to make sure colleges and universities are compliant with the Clery Act. These reviews are a method of making sure campuses are compliant and to offer feedback on the security policies currently in place. Daytona State College recently had an evaluation with positive results.

Campus safety isn’t just a concern for students, it is for parents as well.

Candes Andre is a student in the Registered Health Information Technology program at Daytona State and is a mother of two children. While she hadn’t heard of the Clery Act, she does know how to access the security policies that are available. Feeling safe on campus and the safety of her children, when their college years arrive, are important to her.

“It’s is highly important to know if the school you or your loved ones is attending is safe and what types of crimes have occurred.” she said.