Campus safety rules soon to include stalking, domestic and dating violence

A new draft of campus safety rules, under the Clery Act, will require college campuses to further report campus crimes and to record stalking, domestic violence and dating violence as part of the Violence Against Women Act.

The Clery Act, monitored by the Department of Education, requires colleges to record crime information on and in the vicinity of their campus. The act requires them to do the following: keep an annual security report and a crime log, give timely warnings when students and faculty are in danger and record crime statistics in eight categories.

The Clery Act became law in 1990 and has been modified periodically since then. Every four to five years, the Department of Education releases a new handbook and sometimes reinterprets what falls within categories.

Currently, campuses are reporting on murder, negligent manslaughter, sexual offense, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, car theft and arson. 

“We need a better coordinated effort on all university campuses to educate students and employees around sexual assault — prevention, stalking and domestic violence,” said University of Illinois Police Department Lt. Tony Brown. 

Brown stated that the University has increased its efforts to train and recognize campus security authorities, an entity of the Clery Act that allows college campuses to train personnel that can act on behalf of the University, such as residential assistants and coaches. Victims of sexual assault can seek help from these personnel and also file a report from the police. 

“Clery recognizes that someone might not be comfortable with coming to the police,” he said. “People are feeling more comfortable and to some extent, may be going to different people.”

The reason for campus security authorities is to capture a more accurate depiction of crime statistics on campuses, with particular attention to sexual assault because it is underreported.

“We know that it’s a grossly underreported crime, but why is that? There are a lot of things that go into it,” University Police Deputy Chief of Police Skip Frost said. “One is that a lot of the sexual assault is occurring, even those that are underreported — is it stranger to stranger? Not usually. It’s an acquaintance.”

Brown and Frost expressed that reporting crime statistics is difficult on a large campus like the University, with more than 44,000 students enrolled and taking the space of both Champaign and Urbana. However, University Police still includes reports from all three police departments in their crime statistics.

Brown stated that he believes there will likely be an increase in Clery statistics for sexual assault on campus. Campus crime statistics, released by the U.S. Department of Education, indicate that sexual offense charges have doubled from five to 10 between 2011 and 2012.

Frost indicated that in some ways, the University is prepared for the changes the Clery Act will undergo because of the ongoing cooperative relationships with campus entities such as University Housing, McKinley Health Center and the Women’s Resources Center and with public safety agencies in the area.

The campus safety rules draft also added that campuses will have to host programs or campaigns to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Campuses will have to provide a statement showing the programs they offer on campus.

As part of the Clery Act, the University hosts FYCARE, a first-year rape education awareness program. Molly McLay, assistant director of the Women’s Resources Center, said she feels that the program already has certain attributes that fulfill the campaign requirement.

“We have a nice mixture of awareness-raising and prevention strategies,” she said. “Prevention strategies range from risk reduction and escape strategies to bystander intervention ... there are things we can do to either indirectly or directly intervene.”

McLay expressed that the lessons of awareness during the program allow for students to learn about prevention as well.

“If you understand what consent is, then you also understand what consent isn’t,” she said. “A lack of consent is sexual violence.”

Brown said it is too early to know what changes will take place. However, University Police will be working with the rest of campus to determine what the campus safety rules will require. 

“What I envision is forming a committee with all the various units that we can identify that are for programming for students related along these issues,” Brown said.

The new draft also made modifications to the definition of hate crimes: national origin is now independent of ethnicity and gender identity has been added.

“To be counted for Clery, it’s got to fall within the definition,” he said. “There’s a lot more hate incidents. They may not fall within the definition of a hate crime — they go beyond just crimes.”

Brown stated that there is currently a trained detective that sits in hearings with the Office of Student Conflict Resolutions that reviews the cases and determines what constitutes a hate crime or arson.

According to the campus crime statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, there have not been any hate crime reports on the University campus between 2010 and 2012. Brown mentioned that the campus has been tracking crimes, however the reports did not fulfill the categorization of a hate crime.

Frost expressed that it is difficult to document incidents while being in full compliance with the Clery Act. However, he said public safety officials try their best to follow the guidelines correctly. 

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