A safe campus environment is a priority for colleges, students, and their families alike. Students, faculty, administrators, and visitors should feel safe and secure any time they step foot on a college campus. As such, institutions have devoted significant resources to campus security personnel and safety measures, and lawmakers have maintained an active interest in the issue.
The Clery Act is the primary vehicle guiding federal requirements in this area. The Act focuses heavily on detailed breakdowns of crime statistics, but also requires institutions to issue timely warnings to alert the campus community to imminent threats, conduct emergency notifications and emergency response testing, and maintain crime and fire safety policies, procedures, and practices. Most recently, the Act was amended to address issues related to sexual assault.
As the Act has grown increasingly complex, staying in compliance with it has become a significant issue for many institutions—particularly those that are small or that do not have the resources to maintain large compliance staffs. The Department of Education periodically publishes The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting (Clery Handbook) and other compliance materials. However, because requirements are so complex, these materials can be confusing, inconsistent, or simply overwhelming to institutional compliance officers. As a result, enforcement of the Clery Act often results in steep fines for institutions making good faith efforts to comply with the law.