January 22, 2018
Clery & #MeToo
Right now there’s a very public conversation about sexual assault. It is not new within the campus community and, in many ways, the recent wave of campus activism helped contribute to the current discourse – particularly in displaying the role of social media as a tool for raising awareness and giving everyone a voice.
You might be seeing the impact of the #MeToo movement on your own campus. Started by Tarana Burke as an activist group and popularized as a hashtag by actress Alyssa Milano, the effort encourages individuals worldwide, particularly social media users, to share their own experiences of sexual harassment and assault.
Of course more sharing, and ultimately more reporting, influences the campus in a myriad of ways – Clery responsibilities included. It’s a reminder that real people are the center of why the Clery Act exists. A common misconception is that the Clery Act is just about the statistics – that it cares about the “what” (the crimes that occurred) while Title IX and other laws care about the “who” (the individuals harmed).
However, the whole of the Clery Act counters that idea.
Its creation and amendments exist because incidents impacted individuals at colleges and universities. Survivors, activists, institutions, and politicians wanted to put structures in place to prevent future crimes and create consistent response structures across campuses.
Further, while some argue that Clery Act statistics seem impersonal or less helpful as they do not specifically represent outcomes of disciplinary or criminal justice processes, they do reflect the willingness of individuals to come forward and share their story with someone they trust at the institution. They also capture information disclosed to campus professionals outside of formal reporting procedures.
These same statistics are often used as an argument for Clery not caring about the “who” – after all, the Act requires institutions to report out numbers but doesn’t require adjudication or investigation. Nor does it require identifiable information.
While Clery doesn’t require automatic referral to law enforcement or to a disciplinary process we would argue that it does something more powerful. It allows for choice – for the person impacted by crime to be in the driver’s seat as much as possible – while still requiring policies and practices that can best support that individual and the community no matter what they decide. Some of these structures, put in place as a result of Clery requirements, include:
- Reporting options at the institution
- Mechanisms for alerting others when there’s an immediate or ongoing threat, which often results in additional reports
- Rights and options for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, including the right to report, decline to report, or receive assistance in reporting to law enforcement, information about on-and off campus resources, including protection or no contact orders, and accommodations like changing of academic, living, transportation, or working situations
- Prompt, fair, and impartial disciplinary proceedings for cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
So if you’re noticing changes in reporting as a result of #MeToo or other influences on your community, consider how Clery requirements can support the work you’re doing and how you support those members of your community. Here are a few examples of what you can do starting today:
- Make sure your written explanation of rights and options is easily accessible. Yes, you provide it to individuals when they report, but can they also easily find it online, in busy offices, or when attending programs? Is it available in all of the languages represented within your community? Does it contain inclusive language? Does it reinforce that anyone can be a victim of these crimes regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation? Does it reflect an understanding that an individual’s identities may inform how/when/where they access support and resources?
- Use relevant examples in your CSA training. For example, integrate a case study where a student sees all the #MeToo posts on social media and decides to share their own story with a coach.
- If someone is training on Clery and just focusing on the statistics, talk about how the reports reflected in the statistics also lead to other ongoing safety efforts, like alerts, providing rights and options, and prevention efforts.
Have other suggestions? We’d love to hear them – email gro.r1518992331etnec1518992331yrelc1518992331@reyo1518992331ba1518992331 with how you’re using Clery requirements to support and expand your prevention and response efforts on campus.