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University of Northern Iowa Not Clery Compliant, Internal Audit Finds

UNI’s policies and procedures for fire safety drills and timely warnings are lacking, the audit determined.

University of Northern Iowa Not Clery Compliant, Internal Audit Finds

(Photo: utah51, Adobe Stock)

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — An internal audit determined the University of Northern Iowa’s (UNI) Clery policies and practices are lacking, particularly as it relates to fire safety and timely warnings.

The audit, which reviewed the last two years starting at the beginning of 2020, was presented Wednesday to the Iowa Board of Regents during a meeting at the university, reports The Gazette. The audit determined the school did not perform fire drills for residence halls in accordance with International Fire Code requirements, which require four drills annually for each campus residential building, including at least one within the first 10 days of classes.

The audit also found the campus has no process in place for its Clery compliance officer to confirm drills have been performed. Templates used to document fire drills don’t contain the required information and post-drill documentation isn’t consistent. UNI’s 2021 Clery report, provided to the regents in November, showed it performed between zero and two drills per residential hall in 2019 for a total of 18.

Additionally, the audit determined UNI lacks detailed documentation of standard operating procedures for Clery compliance activities, including notifying all student and employee prospects where they can find crime reports. It also determined campus security authorities (CSAs) are not properly identified, notified, and trained.

The university also has no process for confirming threatening incidents are “properly considered” for a campuswide warning, “increasing the risk that the university community is not notified timely of possible threats.” Last academic year, UNI issued four timely warnings but those incidents are not cataloged on UNI’s website as required by law.

Helen Haire has led UNI’s Department of Public Safety for the last decade and is also its Clery compliance officer. Before her arrival in 2010, the U.S. Department of Education conducted an external audit and issued fines after violations were uncovered.

Although “significant process improvements have been made” in the years since, policies and practices around Clery compliance still lack, according to the latest audit.

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