Campus Safety National Forum Session Gives Tips on Clery Act Compliance

The Clery Center’s Abigail Boyer and Alison Kiss covered many aspects of the complex law for National Forum attendees.

Two members of the Clery Center for Security on Campus hosted a session on the complexities of the Clery Act at the Campus Safety National Forum June 23.

The Clery Act is a federal law that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. The Office for Civil Rights, or the OCR, is responsible for ensuring schools comply with the law and punish those that don’t, sometimes with massive fines.

The Clery Center’s Executive Director Alison Kiss and Assistant Executive Director of Programs Abigail Boyer hosted a four-hour session where they broke down the law and its more recent amendments using a variety of teaching strategies.

First conference attendees, consisting of K-12 and university security professionals, broke into groups and discussed their institutions’ biggest challenges and strengths when it comes to Clery Act compliance. Among the challenges were training Campus Security Authorities, or CSAs, pulling together departments to make a unified response and understanding geographic definitions to know when the Clery Act applies. Some of the attendees listed strengths included having a supportive and transparent administration, taking proactive approaches to Clery Act compliance and employing a designated Clery compliance officer.

But Boyer warns against designating someone the “Clery Act person” then ignoring the law. “One person can’t shoulder the entire burden of Clery compliance,” Boyer says. “It needs to be an institution-wide effort.”

Still, attendees say having one point of contact can simplify things for smaller schools. The speakers noted the different challenges institutions face because of their size. Larger schools or school systems have many departments to train, a larger student population to look over and in some cases multiple student codes of conduct. Conversely, smaller schools have less manpower and fewer financial resources to keep up with the complex law.

The session also included an educational video on CSAs, tips for making security reports and ensuring proper use of confidentiality.

Still, the session’s biggest takeaway was not to be afraid of the OCR but to use it as a resource. “I’ve never seen an institution be effective at anything when it’s working out of fear,” Boyer says. “If all that energy was taken away from lawyers and public relations and put into implementing sound policy changes schools would be in a lot better shape.”

Zach Winn is the associate editor of Campus Safety Magainze

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Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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