A few months ago a family approached me and asked for help in their college search for their daughter. They came prepared for the meeting and had a list of schools that satisfied both the academic and social needs of their daughter. What they wanted from me was to gather information for them about the safety of the campuses they had chosen. And with that charge, I began my search and discovered an actual piece of legislation called The Clery Act which requires schools that receive federal aid to publish and disseminate an annual security report (ASR) to its faculty, students, and the public . This report must contain statistics of campus crime (for the preceding three years) and include information about criminal activity on campus including student housing, public property within campus boundaries, public property near campus, and any buildings owned and recognized by the institution (like fraternity and sorority houses). Additionally, policy information regarding crime reporting, campus facility security and access, law enforcement, alcohol and drug use, response and prevention to sexual assault, and domestic and dating violence also needs to be reported and available to the public.
Crimes that are reported include but are not limited to the following: criminal homicide, sexual assault (which includes rape and fondling), robbery, aggravated and simple assault, burglary, car theft, arson, larceny, intimidation, vandalism of property, domestic and dating violence.
Another component of the law is that should there be a threat on campus, one of criminal nature or even one that is an act of god like inclement weather or disease, the university is obligated to send an emergency notification to those who may be impacted or at risk.
We owe a debt of gratitude to this transformative law that was championed by Connie and Howard Clery who lost their 19 year old daughter during a brutal murder and rape in her own college dormitory in 1986 when reporting was not mandated nor was it common. Jeanne’s parents took their cause to Capitol Hill and lobbied for its passing so that no other family would have to endure what they experienced.
In order to find a Clery report of a specific school (remember it has to be a campus that receives federal aid) you can use the following link or you can simply Google the name of a university and put the Clery Act next to it to find the report. https://studentaid.gov/data-center/school/clery-act-reports/clery-by-school
When we think of fit when it comes to a college decision, it is important to focus not only on the academics but to also pay attention to the safety on and off college campuses. Armed with informed decisions, can be a game changer for your family.