Opinion: College Campus Security Pros Should Be Grateful for the Clery Act
The Clery Act forces higher ed top brass to pay attention to campus public safety, emergency management and security issues rather than sweep them under the rug.
Many of you who are responsible for protecting institutions of higher education might be applauding an opinion blog we ran last week, titled Clery Act Wastes College and University Resources. The article opines that this law requires institutions of higher education to dedicate enormous time and funding that could be used more effectively in other ways to make campuses safer.
Although the article makes some valid points, we should all think about the unintended negative consequences that would probably come to pass if the Clery Act went away. In fact, instead of cursing the law, anyone who is involved in college campus policing, emergency management and security should be thankful for it.
Because of the Clery Act’s incident reporting, timely warning and emergency notification requirements, there is now much greater awareness among college students, their parents, administrators, faculty, staff and our society as a whole of the safety and security issues on U.S. college and university campuses. This — combined with the Trump and Obama Administrations’ better enforcement of the law — has forced top administrators to pay a lot more attention to campus security, police, technology and emergency management, which has directly and/or indirectly benefitted many campus safety programs and the students they protect.
If the Clery Act were to be rescinded and colleges were no longer required to accurately report incidents, not to mention issue alerts during emergencies, many of the improvements in safety and security that colleges have made over the past couple of decades could also go away. If you are involved in college or university public safety, emergency management or security, do you really want to go back to the “good ol’ days” when top administrators ignored your pleas and warnings? Really?
Although many security issues still get ignored by top campus administrators (we need only review the MSU Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal to be reminded of this), campus public safety and security is being taken much more seriously today than it was when I started with Campus Safety magazine 15 years ago. I realize that many folks have only recently become involved in the higher education security, emergency management and law enforcement field, so they might not be familiar with this profession’s history. Let my article serve as your history lesson.
The Clery Act must remain in place and continue being enforced so campus police, security and emergency management practitioners’ concerns and suggestions continue to be heard and taken seriously by top campus administrators.
Yes, complying with the Clery Act can be a bureaucratic nightmare, but be careful what you wish for. Think long and hard about how this law’s repeal would negatively affect your ability to garner top administrator support for your public safety, security, emergency management and technology initiatives. This would, in turn, affect your ability to protect your students, faculty, staff, visitors and property.
I think you’ll find that the Clery Act is worth the hassle. In fact, you might even realize it deserves your praise.