The Clery Act, found in section 485(f) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), requires IHEs that participate in the Title IV HEA federal student financial assistance programs to disclose campus crime statistics and security information.1 Among other things, the Clery Act requires IHEs to provide timely warnings to the campus community of certain crimes reported to campus security authorities that represent a threat to students and employees, and to maintain a log of crimes reported to the campus police or security department. In addition, IHEs must include in their annual security report, a statement of policy regarding the institution’s emergency response and evacuation procedures. This requirement complements and supports the importance of clearly delineating the responsibilities of individuals involved during an emergency response, the need to develop and implement notification and communication strategies to share information with the campus community, the imperative of testing and practicing a higher ed EOP, and the importance of keeping the community informed of current policies and procedures.
Generally, the requirements under the Clery Act fall into three categories:
|Criminal Offenses||Hate Crimes (any of the crimes listed under Criminal Offenses in addition to the ones below)||Arrests and Referrals for Disciplinary Action|
|Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter||Larceny-Theft||Weapons Law Violations|
|Negligent Manslaughter||Simple Assault||Liquor Law Violations|
||Intimidation||Drug Law Violations|
|Robbery||Destruction, Damage, or Vandalism of Property|
|Motor Vehicle Theft|
As part of the emergency planning process, it is critical that IHEs take the time to review and understand all the Clery Act requirements. We focus on two of those requirements: timely warnings and emergency notifications. The U.S. Department of Education’s Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting details all of the Clery Act requirements in depth and provides sample policy statements, diagrams, and other helpful aids for IHEs in complying with this statute.
The Clery Act requires IHEs to alert the campus community to certain crimes that are reported to campus security authorities or local police agencies, and are considered by the IHE to represent a threat to students and employees. These alerts must be done in a manner that is timely and that will aid in the prevention of such crimes. The Clery Act does not include a specific definition of “timely”. However, the intent of a timely warning is to enable people to protect themselves; therefore, warnings should be issued as soon as pertinent information is available. The decision to issue a timely warning should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the nature of the crime, the danger to the campus community, and the possible risk of compromising law enforcement efforts.
An IHE must include in the annual security report a policy statement that accurately reflects the institution’s timely warning policy and practice. The policy should specify the circumstances under which the IHE will issue a timely warning, how those timely warnings will be distributed, and the individual or office responsible for issuing a timely warning. IHEs must take appropriate steps to ensure that timely warnings are communicated to individuals with disabilities, including those who have hearing or vision disabilities, as effectively as they are to others.
IHEs must also develop and disclose emergency response and evacuation procedures, including emergency notification procedures that describe their response to significant
emergency or dangerous situations involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on the campus.3 This requirement is intended to ensure that an IHE has sufficiently prepared for an emergency situation on campus, has tested those procedures to identify and improve on weaknesses, and has considered how it will inform the campus community and other individuals, such as parents and guardians.
IHEs must include a policy statement in their annual security reports that accurately reflect their emergency response and evacuation procedures. This policy statement must include
In addition, the IHE should take steps to ensure the emergency notification planning, testing, and implementation will provide such notifications and related information to individuals with disabilities, including those with vision or hearing disabilities, as effectively as they are provided to others.
Testing a higher ed EOP is critical to the successful implementation of the appropriate course of action during an emergency situation. The Clery Act provides flexibility to IHEs in designing their tests and does not prescribe a particular type that must be used. These tests may be announced or unannounced, but IHEs must publicize their emergency response and evacuation procedures in conjunction with at least one test per calendar year. They must also document, for each test, a description of the exercise, the date and time of the exercise, and whether it was announced or unannounced.
|Emergency Notification||Timely Warning|
|Scope: Wide focus on any significant emergency or dangerous situation (e.g., crime, severe storm, chemical spill, disease outbreak)||Scope: Required for certain crimes|
|Why: Emergency notification is triggered by an event that is currently occurring on or imminently threatening the campus. Initiate emergency notification procedures for any significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on campus.||Why: Timely warnings are triggered by crimes that have already occurred (but may be continuing) but which represent an ongoing threat. An IHE must issue a timely warning for certain crimes that are reported to its campus security authorities4 or a local law enforcement agency, and is considered by the institution to represent a serious or continuing threat to students and employees.|
|Where: Applies to situations that occur on campus||Where: Applies to crimes that occur on campus, in or on non-campus buildings or property, and on public property10|
|When: Initiate procedures immediately upon confirmation that a dangerous situation or emergency exists or threatens.||When: Issue a warning as soon as the pertinent information is available.|
|An IHE that follows its emergency notification procedures is not required to issue a timely warning based on the same circumstances; however, the institution must provide adequate follow-up information to the community as needed.|
1The implementing regulations for the Clery Act are found in 34 C.F.R. Sections 668.14(c)(2)(i), 41(e), 46, and 49. In March 2013, the Clery Act was amended by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA). VAWA expanded the scope of the Act and requires IHEs to take additional steps to provide information to students and employees.
2Please see the U.S. Department of Education’s regulations on fire safety at 34 CFR Section 668.49 available at the link.
3The Clery Act differentiates among “on-campus locations,” “public property,” and “non-campus buildings or property.” These geographic categories drive a number of Clery Act requirements, including crime reporting and disclosures, and emergency response and evacuation procedures. See Chapter 2 of the Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting available at safety/handbook.pdf
4“Campus security authority” is a specific term under the Clery Act that includes four groups of individuals and organizations associated with the institution: 1) a campus police department or campus security department; 2) individuals with responsibility for campus security but who do not constitute a police or security department; 3) individuals or organizations specified in the IHE’s statement of campus security policy as entities to whom students and employees should report criminal offenses; and 4) an IHE official with significant responsibility for student and campus activities.