January 04, 2017
Penn State Fines Statement
The recent fine the U.S. Department of Education issued to the Pennsylvania State University for Jeanne Clery Act violations is the largest fine and most intensive investigation in the Act’s history. The report findings are equally historical and offer powerful guidance for institutions across the country. While the investigation was prompted by the allegations against Jerry Sandusky, the report highlights widespread deficiencies in many aspects of Clery Act compliance.
These findings provide colleges and universities an opportunity to proactively address campus safety and compliance on their campuses and should initiate candid discussions with leaders and the campus community as a whole. The Clery Act frames campus safety as an institution-wide responsibility by requiring transparency around policy, prevention, response, and reporting. For an institution to fulfill its obligations and promote campus safety, individuals in all departments and at all levels must work together to report and respond to crime. Institutions should ask: Can my campus president explain the Clery Act? Do members of the community know where to report? Is there a commitment to training, development of policy, and a willingness to take an honest look at campus climate and culture?
The program review states “…the goals of the Clery Act can only be advanced – and the intent of the Act realized – when institutions carefully implement it and institutional officials in powerful positions are proactive, vigilant, honest, and transparent about campus safety issues.” Campus leadership must set the tone for the community’s attitude towards safety, but they should also empower individuals by equipping them with the necessary training to do their jobs well, the authority to make tough yet necessary decisions, and the commitment to, above all, prioritize safety of the community over the institution’s reputation.
Clery Center is a national nonprofit organization that helps institutions of higher education understand and comply with The Clery Act via strategic consulting services, policy insight, and staff compliance training. Founded in 1987 after the rape and murder of Jeanne Clery, Clery Center is uniquely dedicated to making campus safety a nationwide reality.