The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 has gone into effect. Currently, however, the U.S. Department of Education has not released its official update of the Clery Handbook that explains how institutions of higher education should comply with these new rules.
Despite this, colleges and universities must submit their campus crime reports to the U.S. Department of Education in October and make a good faith effort to abide by the revised federal law. Additionally, even when the updated handbook is published, there will certainly be gray areas that will need to be addressed.
To proactively address these ambiguities, Campus Safety magazine has asked Security On Campus Director of Public Policy S. Daniel Carter for help. The article that follows, although not intended to be legal advice nor a replacement for training, provides recommendations on how colleges and universities can appropriately implement the new missing student notification rules outlined in the HEOA and revised Jeanne Clery Act.
This is the first in a series of stories on the new HEOA requirements. Additional guidance on emergency response, emergency notification, fire incident reporting and expanded hate crime reporting will appear in the September/October issue of Campus Safety magazine and at www.CampusSafetyMagazine.com.
Missing Student Guidelines
By S. Daniel Carter
Suzanne Lyall, a University at Albany, student was last seen on March 2, 1998. Her fate remains a mystery. Roger Williams University student Bryan Nisenfeld was last seen alive on his campus on February 6, 1997. His partial remains were discovered on a nearby island six months later.
Both families were frustrated that there weren’t procedures in place for campus and local officials to better respond in a prompt and coordinated matter. They also found out they weren’t alone and began working with other families, advocacy groups and legislators to change how reports of missing young adults were handled. They didn’t want the first hours that are so critical to a missing persons investigation to ever be lost again with the tragic results they’d experienced.
Beginning for the first time in the fall of 2010 as a result of their tireless work, new federal guidelines require colleges and universities with on-campus student housing enact policies and procedures to handle reports of missing students. The intent of the new requirement is to minimize delays and confusion during an initial investigation.