May 28, 2011
As reported by the Yale Daily News, on May 23rd, 2011 the Department of Education wrote to President Levin that it had found Yale in violation of the Cleary Act. This finding brings to a close a seven-year investigation into Yale’s method of reporting campus crime statistics for the 2001-2006 academic years.
The federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, signed into law in1990, stipulates that all bodies of higher education that receive federal funding for their campus’ financial aid programs must log, report, and publish their campus crime statistics. The Act is named for Jeanne Clery, who was 19-years-old when she was raped and murdered by a fellow student at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Clery’s parents, Howard and Connie Clery, learned of 38 violent crimes that had occurred on Lehigh’s campus in the three years leading up to the violent murder of their daughter. These crimes had not been reported to students and their families.
The Act stipulates that in order to be in full compliance with the letter or the Act, bodies of higher education must:
1. Annually report its campus crime statistics by the first of October each year to employees and both prospective and current students. This report must include all crimes from the past three years, policies of safety and security, crime prevention, and specifically policies followed in the investigation of sex crimes.
2. Institutions must continually update a log of all crimes reported to them or those of which they have had notice in the preceding seven years. Such a log must be publicly available and include the date and time of each crime and the type of crime.
3. In the event that a crime covered by the Act—including homicide, sexual assault, robbery, assault, or arson—is understood to be a threat to the safety of employees or students at an institution, it is that institutions duty to provide timely warnings of such a crime. Institutions must notify employees and students if the incident has been deemed a hate crime.
The Department of Education, charged with monitoring compliance with the Act, can impose civil penalties for each infraction. Each infraction can cost a university over $20,000 in aid, and the Department of Education can revoke an institutions ability to participate in federal financial aid programs. Ms. Magazine reports that since 1998, institutions found out of compliance have faced a $25,000 penalty per infraction.
The Department of Education has found Yale University—including but not limited to the undergraduate college–out of compliance with all three of the above-stated criteria. As the Yale Daily News reports, the University has been charged with numerous infractions resulting and inaccurate and insufficient disclosure of crime statistics. These include defining the campus boundaries incorrectly, thus misclassifying some events as “off-campus” and therefore eligible for exclusion from reports.
These specific violations come from 2001-2002 academic year. Case Director Nancy Gifford wrote that these problems have been largely corrected since the Department of Education investigation began in 2004. This investigation into the University’s practices regarding the Clery Act is now closed, pending penalties for these numerous infractions. The maximum penalty would be withdrawing Yale University from federal financial aid programs. The Department of Education’s report is available in full here.
Hannah Zeavin is a senior in Yale College. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Broad Recognition.