Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the Clery Act?

The Clery Act is a federal consumer protection law passed in 1990 following the tireless efforts of Connie and Howard Clery after the death of their daughter, Jeanne, at Lehigh University.

The Clery Act aims to provide transparency around campus crime policy and statistics by requiring colleges and universities to:

  • Record campus crimes in a daily log
  • Publish an annual security report (ASR) each year by October 1 containing the three previous calendar years’ worth of Clery crime statistics and summaries of existing campus safety policies and procedures
  • Identify campus security authorities (CSAs), individuals designated to receive and report information about certain crimes
  • Compile statistics of crimes that occurred within the institution’s Clery geography that meet the definition of Clery crimes and were reported to a campus security authority
  • Issue timely warnings when a Clery crime reported to a CSA occurs within Clery geography and poses a serious or ongoing threat 
  • Issue an emergency notification when there is an immediate threat to health or safety on campus
  • Conduct prompt, fair, and impartial disciplinary proceedings for dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking cases 
  • Provide written explanations of one’s rights and options to victims of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking 
  • Offer prevention and awareness programs on dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking  to new and current students and employees on an introductory and ongoing basis

In order to comply with Clery Act requirements, colleges and universities must understand what the law entails, where their responsibilities lie, and what they can do to actively foster campus safety.

You can learn more about the Clery Act in the following FAQs. Jump to:

You can also visit our FAQs tailored specifically for student journalists. It provides essential information on how to determine if their institutions are adhering to the law's requirements and how to leverage the law for current issues or concerns. 

What is an annual security report?

The Clery Act requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding to publish and distribute an annual security report (ASR) to current and prospective employees and students by October 1 each year. The ASR must include three previous calendar years’ worth of Clery crime statistics plus details about efforts taken to improve campus safety. ASRs must also include policy statements regarding crime reporting, campus facility security and access, law enforcement authority, alerting the campus community of potential ongoing threats or immediate health or safety concerns, incidence of alcohol and drug use, and the prevention of/response to dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking (DVSAS).

You can learn more about ASRs with our free resource, Composing Your ASR.

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What are reportable crimes under the Clery Act?

  • Criminal Offenses:
    • Criminal homicide: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, manslaughter by negligence
    • Sexual assault: rape, fondling, incest, statutory rape
    • Robbery
    • Aggravated assault
    • Burglary
    • Motor vehicle theft
    • Arson
  • Hate Crimes (any of the above mentioned offenses, and any incidents of):
    • Larceny-theft
    • Simple assault
    • Intimidation
    • Destruction/damage/vandalism of property
  • Violence Against Women Act Offenses:
    • Domestic violence
    • Dating violence
    • Stalking
  • Arrests and Referrals for Disciplinary Action
    • Weapons law violations
    • Drug abuse violations
    • Liquor law violations

You can learn more about VAWA offenses  on our website, here. You can learn more about hate crimes with our free resources, Explaining Hate Crimes under the Clery Act and Combating Hate Crimes on College and University Campuses: Essential Considerations for Public Safety Officials.

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Who on a campus is required to report under the Clery Act?

The Clery Act defines the role of a "campus security authority” (CSA) as individuals that fall within four different functional areas at a college or university to whom reports of Clery crimes occurring within Clery geography should be made. They are responsible for reporting crime information to the campus's designated Clery Compliance Officer or Campus Safety/Police department.

The Clery Act requires certain roles to pass along information about Clery Act crimes occurring within Clery geography to the college/university’s designated crime collection body – most often its campus police or public safety department. 

These roles are called campus security authorities or CSAs and are defined as being responsible for one or more of the following functions at an institution of higher education:

  • Campus police or public safety department
  • Having responsibility for campus security but not being part of a campus police or public safety department, for example, someone responsible for monitoring access to a building but not a campus police or public safety officer
  • Someone identified as one to whom a crime can be reported
  • Officials with significant responsibility for student or campus activities

Some examples of roles the Department of Education has historically stated as holding these functions would include:

  • Campus Police and Security Officers and Personnel: All campus police officers and security personnel, including sworn and non-sworn and contractors, are considered CSAs.
  • Dean of Students and Student Affairs Staff
  • Residence Hall Advisors and Directors
  • Coaches and Athletic Directors
  • Student Discipline or Campus Judicial staff
  • Title IX Coordinators and Officials

It is important to note that not all campus personnel are considered CSAs. For example, pastoral and professional mental health counselors, when functioning in those capacities on a campus, are exempt from CSA designation. Additionally, roles such as clerical or cafeteria staff or faculty without additional responsibilities outside of the classroom, have typically not been thought of as CSAs by the Department of Education.

However, a campus has discretion to determine whether any role falls within one of the four functional areas listed above.

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How are campus security authorities trained?

According to the Clery Act, formal training is not obligatory. However, it is imperative for a CSA to understand their role, understand the reporting obligations, and be proficient in executing such reports. Further, Department of Education Program Reviews have indicated that the Department sees training as a critical tool for ensuring an institution is able to meet the requirements of the Act.

Institutions employ a variety of training methods based on available resources, the learning preferences within their community, and the target audience. Online training may be suitable for certain members of your CSA community, while others who regularly receive reports may benefit from more hands-on training. Initial training should aim to establish fundamental knowledge, emphasize their identity as CSAs, identify what needs reporting, and how to carry out the reporting process, while advanced sessions may delve into practical scenarios using case studies. Utilizing reporting forms specific to the institution during training allows CSAs to practice reporting procedures in a controlled environment. This not only reinforces their understanding of the role but also ensures clarity on the information they should convey and the appropriate resources and contacts to utilize.

If you are responsible for training CSAs, we encourage you to explore additional resources provided by Clery Center, as we offer comprehensive support for CSA training through our CSA and CSA Train-the-Trainer Workshops and our Membership programs.

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What happens when a crime is reported to a Clery Compliance Officer or the Campus Police/Public Safety department?

Once a crime is reported by a CSA to the campus police or public safety department or to a Clery Compliance Officer those roles are responsible for affirming whether the nature of the incident and the location align with Clery crimes and Clery geography. If they do, then they assess the incident for whether or not a timely warning should be issued, and add the incident to the daily crime log if the necessary parameters apply. If the incident was dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking then efforts will be made to ensure the victim is provided a written explanation of rights and options and is informed of what next steps could look like. This could involve explaining how to file a formal complaint in order to initiate an investigation, assisting with an accommodations request for an academic, work, living, or transportation need, or helping the individual report to local police or file for a protection order (either on campus or with the local authorities). 

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Where can I find crime statistics for an institution? 

The Clery Act requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding to publish, distribute, and disseminate an annual security report (ASR) to current and prospective employees and students by October 1 each year. Most institutions make it available through their website. This ASR must include three previous calendar years’ worth of Clery crime statistics plus details about efforts taken to improve campus safety.

Clery Act statistics are also available online at through the Department of Education’s data collection process. This site includes options to get data for a single school, compare schools, or look at trend data.

A note about crime statistics:

When an institution reports higher crime statistics year-to-year, or more than another institution, it is not necessarily indicative of higher incidences of crime. Higher reporting rates often indicate that a school has established efficient and accessible reporting systems and that students are encouraged to report and seek support.

Additionally, it is important to note that Clery crime statistics reflect a specific set of data: reports made to CSAs of Clery crimes occurring within Clery geography. They do not represent findings of a court, coroner, or internal disciplinary process. 

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What is Clery Geography?

Clery Act crime reporting is required for locations defined within the Clery Act as Clery geography. Institutions must include statistics for Clery crimes that occur in any of these geographic areas:

  • On-campus 
  • On-campus student housing (if an institution has such properties)
  • Public property within campus bounds
  • Public property immediately adjacent to and accessible from on-campus locations 
  • Noncampus: Buildings and property owned or controlled by the institution  that are used for educational purposes and frequently used by students but not a part of the core campus, or those owned or controlled by a student organization officially recognized by the institution

For the purposes of maintaining an institution’s daily crime log, Clery geography includes, in addition to the locations above, areas within the patrol jurisdiction of the campus police or campus security department.

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What is the daily crime log?

Campuses with a public safety or police department are required to create, maintain, and make available an easily understood daily crime log. The daily crime log must include, the date the crime was reported, the nature, date, location, and time of any crimes reported to them that occur within their patrol jurisdiction, which would include but is not limited to, their institution’s Clery geography. It also includes the disposition of complaints.

Entries must be made within two business days of the report of the information, unless the disclosure is prohibited by law or would jeopardize the confidentiality of the victim. An institution may withhold this information if there is clear and convincing evidence that releasing it would jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation or safety of the individual, cause the suspect to flee or evade detection, or result in the destruction of evidence. The school must disclose any withheld information once the adverse effect is no longer likely to occur. 

An institution is required to make the crime log for the most recent 60-day period open to public inspection during normal business hours. The school must make any portion of the log older than sixty days available within two business days of a request for public inspection. 

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Are off campus locations included in Clery Act reporting and statistics?

The term "off campus" typically evokes thoughts of private residences, apartments, houses, shopping centers, or bars. In the absence of a formal agreement for control between the institution and such spaces, these locations usually do not fall within the established Clery Geography categories. Consequently, incidents occurring in these places would not contribute to Clery crime statistics.

However, an important distinction exists in the form of the "noncampus” geography category. Noncampus geography pertains to buildings or property owned or controlled by the institution that are not reasonably contiguous to an on-campus buildings or property, yet still frequently used by students and used for educational purposes. Institutions have discretion in determining the distance they consider to be reasonably contiguous and are expected to apply that determination consistently across similar situations. This geography also includes property owned or controlled by student organizations officially recognized by the institution, such as Greek life or athletic teams.

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What are timely warnings & emergency notifications?

When a Clery Act crime occurs within Clery geography and is reported to a CSA, campus officials are required to evaluate if there is a serious or ongoing threat to the campus community to determine if a timely warning needs to be issued to all staff and students. 

In the event of an immediate, significant danger to the health or safety campus community (e.g. weather, disease outbreak), campus officials must issue an emergency notification. This notification can include the entire campus, or be limited to a specific area deemed to be at risk.

You can learn more about these alerts in our free resource, Timely Warnings and Emergency Notification: Separate and Distinct Requirements.

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What are victim rights & options?

Victims of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking (DVSAS) have specific rights, options, and resources guaranteed to them by the Clery Act.

Student and Employee Rights
Institutions must provide victims of DVSAS with a written explanation of the procedures they should follow which include: 
  • an explanation of the importance of preserving evidence;
  • reporting options to both campus administrators and campus and local law enforcement;
  • the option to request an accommodation for academic, living, transportation, or working situations;
  • the option to request a protective measure, like a no-contact order or an area restriction; 
  • details about on- and off-campus service providers for counseling services, legal services, and other information; and
  • Information about the institution’s disciplinary proceedings.

Disciplinary Proceedings
All disciplinary proceedings must be conducted by trained parties at the institution who are free of conflict of interest and/or bias. Proceedings are required to be prompt, fair, and impartial, and must confer certain procedural rights to both the accuser and the accused such as informing them of their right to an advisor of their choice and to receive simultaneous written notification of the outcome, appeal procedures, any change to the result, and when the result is final. Please note that the Clery Act uses the terms “accuser and accused” in its description of disciplinary proceedings requirements, which refer to the individual bringing forward the complaint (sometimes called a complainant) and the person responding to the complaint (sometimes referred to as the respondent).

You can learn more about these rights and options in our Rights & Options Guide.

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Does the Clery Act require any prevention education for students and employees?

Institutions are required to offer to both new and current students and employees, on an introductory and ongoing basis, prevention and awareness programs on DVSAS. These programs must include material on bystander intervention and risk reduction aimed at recognizing the warning signs of these crimes and addressing root causes in order to prevent recurrence.

The Clery Act also requires institutions to describe within their annual security report any security awareness or crime prevention programs they offer to students or employees including their frequency.  Examples of crime prevention programs include safety walks or ride along escorts, crime bulletins, offering ways for students to engrave their belongings so they can be readily identified if stolen, conducting lighting assessments of walkways, maintaining emergency blue light phones or a mobile safety app as a way for individuals to report crimes, etc. Examples of security awareness programs include presentations, workshops, or passive programming designed to inform the campus community about campus security procedures and practices and to encourage students and employees to be responsible for their own security and the security of others. This might include presentations about bystander intervention, spring break safety tips, active shooter training, or a refresher on the services offered by a public safety department.

Lastly, the Clery Act asks campuses to describe in its annual security report information about its drug and alcohol abuse prevention program (DAAPP) required under the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act or to cross-reference to materials the institution publishes separately to comply with those requirements.

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How does Title IX intersect with the Clery Act?

Title IX and the Clery Act are two separate federal laws in the United States that address different aspects of campus safety and gender equity in education. While they have distinct purposes, they can intersect in certain situations, particularly when it comes to addressing and preventing sexual violence on college campuses. 

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. It covers a broad range of issues, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, which can create a hostile educational environment. As of May 2020, Title IX defines sexual harassment, in part, as anything that meets the definition of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking (DVSAS) as those terms are defined under the Clery Act, which links these laws even further. 

Both Title IX and the Clery Act require campuses to make certain roles responsible for reporting sexual harassment inclusive of DVSAS, provide written information about one’s rights and options, and detail elements that must be present within the student and employee disciplinary procedures used to address these types of incidents. 

It is important to note that while these laws often call for the same thing and just use different terminology, they do have fundamentally different purposes. Title IX is a civil rights law designed to preserve one’s civil rights and access to federally funded education free from discrimination on the basis of sex. The Clery Act is an administrative law focused on ensuring that certain policies and procedures are in place that prevent and respond to instances of DVSAS, including the provision of written information about one’s rights and options. 

Many institutions establish coordinated responses that involve collaboration between Title IX offices and campus public safety to ensure compliance with both laws. Effective coordination allows institutions to provide a comprehensive response to incidents of sexual violence, addressing both the needs of the individuals involved and the safety of the campus community. It's important for colleges and universities to have clear policies and procedures in place to comply with both Title IX and the Clery Act and to create a safe and inclusive educational environment.

You can learn more about the intersection of these laws with our video training series, Digging Deep into the Clery Act and Title IX Intersections, and our Policy Synergy: Title IX & the Clery Act training. Check our events calendar for upcoming Policy Synergy dates.

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Who enforces the Clery Act? How do I file a complaint?

While Clery Center is closely associated with the Clery Act due to our name and origins, it is not the enforcement authority for this federal law. As the Clery Act mandates compliance for any institution receiving Title IV federal funding, the law is enforced through the Clery Compliance Group housed within the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) within the Department of Education.

Filing a Clery complaint is an administrative process, not a legal one, so although you could use the services of an attorney, it is not required. The first point of contact for questions and complaints is [email protected] or [email protected]. Provide a narrative of your concerns so that the Department has the information they need and can follow up as needed in relation to the complaint.

Clery Center supports institutions in understanding and implementing the Clery Act. With our historical connection as founded by Howard and Connie Clery, coupled with over 35 years of collaboration with colleges, universities, and campus safety-related organizations nationwide, we aim to inform and guide institutions to exemplify the spirit of the law with a proactive commitment to campus safety and to educate campus communities to know how the law protects them.

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What happens if an institution is not compliant with the Clery Act?

Institutions that are found by the Department of Education to be in violation of the Clery Act may face warnings, fines, per violation, of up to $67,544 (which increases each year with inflation), the limitation or suspension of federal aid, or the loss of eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs.

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I have more questions; what should I do?

For any questions regarding compliance determinations with the Clery Act we recommend reaching out to Westat, a federal contractor who provides technical assistance on the Clery Act on behalf of the Department of Education, the enforcement authority of the Clery Act. Westat can be reached at [email protected] and 800-435-5985.

Clery Center also offers comprehensive technical assistance and support via our Membership program, connecting institutions and individuals to our unparalleled expertise in the form of free and discounted training, exclusive resources and webinars, access to our network of Members, and more. 

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