What Is the Clery Act?

January 1, 2023 | By Shane Phelps Law
What Is the Clery Act?

The Clery Act, named after Jeanne Clery, a student who was raped and murdered in her dorm room in 1986, is a federal statute that aims to provide transparency around campus crime statistics and policies. It mandates that all colleges and universities receiving federal funding must report crime data, support victims of violence, and make known their campus safety policies and procedures.

Requirements of the Clery Act

Under the Clery Act, institutions must disseminate a public annual security report (ASR) every October 1st to employees and students. This report includes statistics of campus crime for the preceding three calendar years and the efforts taken by the institution to improve campus safety.

The ASR also outlines policy statements regarding crime reporting, campus facility security and access, law enforcement authority, alcohol and drug use, and prevention/response to sexual assault, domestic or dating violence, and stalking.

Institutions must report crime statistics under four distinct categories: criminal offenses, hate crimes, offenses under the Violence Against Women Act, and arrests and referrals for disciplinary action.

Moreover, the Clery Act expands its scope beyond the bounds of the campus. Institutions must include statistics for crimes occurring in various geographic areas, including on-campus, public property within and adjacent to the campus, non-campus buildings used for educational purposes, and non-campus buildings controlled by student organizations officially recognized by the institution.

The Clery Act and Student Sexual Assault Cases

One of the significant impacts of the Clery Act is its influence on how institutions handle student sexual assault cases. The Act requires institutions to provide prevention and awareness programs about these crimes, which include material on bystander intervention and risk reduction.

Victims of sexual assault have specific rights and resources guaranteed by the Clery Act. They have rights to relocation/change of housing, transportation, academic course assignment, access to counseling services, legal services, and law enforcement notification.

Disciplinary proceedings related to such offenses must be conducted by trained parties at the institution. The Clery Act ensures prompt, fair, and impartial proceedings with procedural rights for both the accuser and the accused.

On the other hand, increased reporting structures can provide more evidence against those accused of an offense. While protection for victims is necessary, and there are too few regulations, it is often a double-edged sword. Those charged with an offense wrongfully could face the full brunt of the school’s disciplinary board, armed with Clery Act statistics. False accusations are not the norm but divert resources from crucial investigations of legitimate offenses.

The potential impact on a student's life and future due to an offense under the Clery Act is significant. Therefore, it is crucial for students accused of such an offense to consider contacting an attorney. An attorney can provide invaluable guidance and representation throughout the disciplinary process and help protect the student's rights.

The Clery Act plays a pivotal role in promoting transparency around campus crime policy and statistics, protecting victims of violence, and providing a fair process for students accused of offenses. However, for those facing wrongful sexual assault allegations, these expansive rules can make a defense more complicated.

If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, contact Shane Phelps Law.