The Clery Center sent an open letter to U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill after the senator said her goal was to remove the Clery Act at the Campus Safety National Forum.
The Clery Center has responded to U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill’s statement “I am OK removing the Clery Act completely,” which was made at the Campus Safety National Forum June 25.
In an open letter to the Missouri senator, the Clery Center pointed to statistics McCaskill has frequently used in reports that wouldn’t have been available or even compiled before the Clery Act was passed in 1990.
The Clery Center also listed several ways parents and students are safer as a result of the law. The examples given included a parent’s ability to access comprehensive crime information online about schools and a student’s ability to receive immediate information about an active shooter on campus.
The Clery Act requires colleges to keep track of crime on and around their campuses and disclose the statistics to the public in annual security reports. It also requires schools to give timely warnings to students if their safety is threatened.
The act is controversial among universities because of the fines handed down to them if they don’t meet the requirements. Some requirements are also considered unreasonable, like the fact that universities must keep their crime statistics from the past eight years (which is a new rule as of 2012).
At the Campus Safety conference, McCaskill said she was “OK” with removing the Clery Act entirely, and said the law amounts to “a waste of time pushing paper.” The senator’s comments were met with cheers from some members of the crowd of security professionals who often are responsible for compiling and managing the data required by the Clery Act.
McCaskill was critical of the act as she promoted her own campus security bill, the Campus Safety and Accountability Act (CASA), which would not require colleges to record crime statistics or make any crime information public. Instead CASA would anonymously survey college students about their experience with sexual violence on campus and publish the results.
It is unclear if CASA’s proposed rules would lower the financial burden of universities. Under CASA, colleges would be required to hire confidential advisors and give anyone participating in disciplinary proceedings specialized training. CASA also substantially increases fines for Clery Act violations: school penalties could reach up to $150,000 per violation under CASA as opposed to the current maximum of $35,000 per violation under the Clery Act.