Report Examines Challenges for Compliance with Clery Act

By Joan Berkes, Policy & Federal Relations Staff

A report released last month by the National Center for Campus Public Safety (NCCPS) discusses ways that institutions of higher education (IHEs) might overcome problems that arise when Clery Act compliance is a task assigned to an often small compliance team or individual in the lower levels of an institution's hierarchy, rather than an institutional objective.

The Clery Act requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding to compile and disclose statistics and information about crime on and around campus, and to distribute an annual security report that includes safety-related policies and procedures. Even though regulations governing these provisions of law are codified under Title IV student aid rules (Student Consumer Information, Sec. 668.46), responsibility for compliance generally lies with public safety or other campus departments apart from the financial aid office. A successful program of safety and security, however, involves total commitment across campus.

The report is the culmination of two successive focus groups that sought campus-wide buy-in and support solutions. The focus groups identified challenges and barriers to Clery compliance, and sought solutions and communication strategies that would result in buy-in and support across all institutional offices and interests.

The study found that struggles caused by conflicting or nonconforming federal and state laws combined with worries over penalties for noncompliance "have encouraged many IHEs to lose sight of the spirit of the law and focus resources entirely on the letter of the law." For many IHEs, according to the report, "these challenges have created a culture of compliance that prioritizes report writing and data management over the more comprehensive goals of ensuring that campuses are safe for students, faculty, and staff."

The report defines basic goals and issues to overcome, and recommends structural and communication strategies for achieving not just compliance, but an institution-wide culture of cooperative compliance.


Publication Date: 6/20/2016

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