NAICU Washington Update

Education Department Eliminates Campus Safety Handbook

October 16, 2020

The Department of Education announced that it has rescinded the 265-page Campus Safety Handbook that details how colleges and universities should comply with the Clery Act. According to the Department, the handbook improperly expanded the scope of the Clery statute and regulations by including requirements that do not have the force and effect of the law.
The short guidance document that replaces the handbook makes clear that campuses now have greater flexibility with respect to compliance with Clery requirements.
In rescinding and replacing the Clery guidance, the Department cites the recommendations of the Senate Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education, which NAICU, a long-time advocate for revising the handbook, endorsed.
Designed as an appendix to the Federal Student Aid Handbook, the new Clery guidance is intended to reduce regulatory burden and enable institutions “to focus on maintaining a safe and secure environment, rather than spending time and resources generating reports that few students or parents consult, and that could overwhelm them with excessive data that obscures the most important and helpful parts of these reports.”
The new guidance contains several significant changes, including revisions to guidance regarding Clery geography, Clery crimes, and campus security authorities. In general, the key principle outlined is that the Department “will accept an institution’s reasonable interpretation of terms as long as those terms are defined clearly to individuals who review the campus’ Clery Act reports.”  
According to the Department, the new guidance will not retroactively apply to previous enforcement actions involving the Clery Act. The now-eliminated handbook will be archived but remain available as a reference.

MORE News from NAICU