We were a proud sponsor of the recent Clery Center webinar, "Building a Clery Compliance Committee." In the webinar, we examined Clery Act program review findings to improve structures and functions of Clery Teams, explored how to integrate Clery work with other teams and committees, and provided suggestions on crafting Clery committee goals for the upcoming year.
What Is the Clery Act?
The Clery Act is a federal consumer protection law designed to promote transparency and accountability between institutions of higher education and the campus communities they serve. The Department of Education's Clery Compliance division enforces the Clery Act, which is housed under the Federal Student Aid department.
Under this law, Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) are a defined group of people who must report crimes disclosed to them. There is also a requirement for institutions to publish an Annual Security Report with information about Clery crimes reported to CSAs and law enforcement, as well as a requirement to share those statistics directly with the Department of Education.
In a more ongoing capacity, campuses must make evaluations about incidents reported to them to determine whether they warrant a timely warning or emergency notifications. They also have to make sure the rights and options for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking are met.
In general, the areas of compliance that the Clery Act addresses include:
- Campus crime reporting
- Statements of policy
- Receiving alerts in the form of timely warnings and emergency notifications with a mass notification system or mobile app
- Compiling and distributing the Annual Security Report
- Missing student procedures and fire safety reporting (on-campus student housing only)
Why Do You Need a Clery Compliance Committee?
There is a wide range of policy statements that must be included in the Annual Security Report, from emergency notifications to crime prevention programs to student disciplinary proceedings. For that reason, the coordination of multiple offices and departments is necessary. There is no one office or department that accounts for all these required policies and procedures. In putting the Annual Security Report together, an institution benefits from a cross-campus team or a multidisciplinary group or committee that collects and evaluates the information.
Lessons Learned From Program Review Findings
As you consider ways to develop and improve the structure or function of your Clery Compliance Team, it is helpful to look at some of the most common program review findings, which include:
- Lack of administrative capability
- Failure to identify and notify campus security authorities and to establish an adequate system for collecting crime statistics from them
- Failure to properly classify and disclose reported crimes, arrests, and referrals
- Failure to produce and distribute an Annual Security Report
- Omitted and/or inadequate Annual Security Report policy statements
How to Align Cross-Functional Teams
Institutions of higher education are constantly evolving and we are often looking for new and more efficient ways of addressing campus safety within our communities. The process of integrating Clery work can become more clear if you operate from a more broad and flexible perspective. It can help to leverage existing networks and cross-functional teams aligned with your Clery Act goals, mission, and values.
Connecting Clery compliance to other institutional priorities can be helpful as you start to evaluate how it fits in with other departments and areas. It can also ensure that the values of your institution are being promoted and align with the actual allocation of resources. Framing compliance networks and teams as a win-win can strengthen capacity for all parties involved.
Setting Clery Committee Goals
Below are some initial steps to take when forming your Clery Compliance Committee and establishing goals:
- Identify and connect with existing structures (people, priorities, and places) that support compliance efforts and those that may impede it
- Identify where gaps may already exist between compliance aspiration and reality
- Work towards "early wins"
- Reframe challenges
Safety officials must be proactive in providing preventative resources to their campus community and ensuring all students and faculty are reached in case of imminent threats. 55% of students say they would not know what to do should an emergency occur in school. How can we change that?