Legislation for Campus Safety: Reassurance for Parents of College Students
As college parents, one of our major concerns when our student heads off to college may be her safety. We want our student to do well academically, we want her to be healthy, we want her to be happy, but first and foremost, we want her to be safe. The safety of college students has become an increasingly important topic in recent years
Ideally, a three way partnership will do the most to help keep college students safe. Parents need to talk to their students about safety, students need to exercise awareness and behave responsibly, and colleges need to take precautions to keep students safe.
Concern for the safety of college students is a growing national concern in light of recent tragedies on college campuses. Two laws in particular have been passed which attempt to begin to address this concern.
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act
Commonly known as the “Clery Act”, this federal law is named for Jeanne Clery, a nineteen year old freshman at Lehigh University who was raped and murdered in her residence hall in 1986. Students at the college had not been told about violent crimes which had occurred around the campus. The law was originally named the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, and was first passed in 1990. It was amended in August 2008.
The Clery Act requires any college, either public or private, which receives federal financial aid, to keep and disclose crime statistics on and near campus. Amendments to the law passed in 2008 require institutions to include a campus emergency response plan in their reporting. Colleges are now required to have a plan to “immediately notify” members of the campus community if an emergency is confirmed on campus. New amendments also require institutions to disclose mutual aid agreements with state and local police units and to provide information about hate crimes.
Institutions are required to publish their report in the fall of each year, and it must contain information for the prior three years. The requirements are monitored by the United States Department of Education.
Campus Safety Act of 2009 and the National Center for Campus Public Safety
In February of 2009, Congress unanimously approved the Campus Safety Act of 2009 and sent the bill to the Senate for approval. The Campus Safety Act establishes a National Center for Campus Public Safety in an effort to help colleges deal with the security challenges in today’s world. The National Center for Campus Public Safety would be administered through the U.S. Department of Justice and would provide grants to allow campus public safety agencies to increase training and education, to foster research, and to coordinate campus safety information. The bill authorizes up to 2.75 million dollars per year through 2013 in order to fund the Center.
Obviously, legislation alone will not keep college students safe. Colleges need to use the legislation to work in partnership with students, faculty members and families. Although an institution can have a plan and set up a framework for safety on campus, students’ awareness of their surroundings and their own actions will help to keep them safe on a daily basis. In our next post we will consider some conversations which parents can have with their students to urge them to do what they can to keep themselves safe.