Chapter 21, Section 8
Crime on college and university campuses first captured
media attention in the mid-1980s and brought the issue into public
view. Civil suits filed by victims and surviving family members
of homicide victims against universities and administrators served
as the prelude to successful advocacy for federal legislation
that requires colleges to compile and publish annual campus security
reports. The legislation has served to enhance safety, security,
and crime victim assistance on many campuses.
Upon completion of this chapter, students will understand the
1992 1993 1994
Murder 17 15 19
Forcible sex offenses 417 430 n/a
Nonforcible Sex Offenses 83 110 127
Rape 458 892 1,001
Robbery 1,311 1,340 n/a
Aggravated Assault 3,022 3,103 n/a
Burglary 21,079 20,123 n/a
Motor-vehicle theft 7,270 7,032 n/a
Liquor-law violations 14,812 14,876 14,890
Drug-law violations 3,601 4,993 6,138
Weapon violations 1,282 1,425 n/a
Note: The data represent crimes reported for 1993 and 1992 by
796 colleges with enrollments of 5,000 or more The data representing
crimes reported for 1994 were reported by 831 colleges with enrollments
of 5,000 or more. The figures were compiled from statistics published
by the colleges in compliance with federal law (The Chronicle
of Higher Education, February 3, 1995).
Crime on Campus
Few issues affecting colleges and universities captured media attention more dramatically in the last decade than violent crime. Awareness of the incidence of violent crime on college campuses burst into the public's consciousness with the reporting of several tragic cases in the 1980s. Headlines of major newspaper across the country have described violent incidents on campuses in California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Minnesota, Virginia and Florida, to name a just few. These reports:
". . . put to rest the long-cherished notion that colleges
and universities are somehow cloistered enclaves -- sanctuaries
far removed from the threat of crime that haunts the rest of us"
Victim Advocacy Through Campus Violence Civil
Campus violence civil litigation emerged in the mid-1980s as a relatively new and formidable legal strategy to address the problem of campus crime. It caught school administrators by surprise and threatened the financial resources of colleges and universities, many of which have suffered in recent years from declining enrollment and escalating costs.
Civil cases have been filed, primarily by students or their surviving family members, against universities, their administrators and trustees. In such cases, plaintiffs seek compensatory damages for financial losses and pain and suffering, and punitive damages which are awarded to punish perpetrators and deter others from engaging in similar behavior. Cases have alleged negligence and gross negligence, and in recent years, civil lawsuits have resulted in large judgments or out of court settlements. Generally, lawsuits have alleged unsafe campus conditions. Awards ranging from $50,000 to $2 million for plaintiffs who were victims of assault and rape have shaken several universities, attracted Congressional and media attention, and forced an examination of security on campuses and institutions' response after a crime occurs.
One of the more tragic cases involves the torture, rape and murder of 19-year-old Jeanne Ann Clery in her dormitory room at Lehigh University on April 5, 1986. Following the conviction and sentencing of Jeanne Clery's murderer, who was also a university student, Howard and Connie Clery filed suit against the university for its negligence in failing to take reasonable action to protect their daughter from foreseeable harm. The amount of the settlement was not made public but, in the course of settling, the university agreed to improve security throughout the campus, particularly in dormitories.
Following the settlement, the Clery's formed Security on Campus,
Inc., an organization dedicated to bringing the problem of violent
crime on college campuses to the attention of those who most need
to know: applicants, students, faculty and staff. Their crusade
has had widespread results. Since their initial success in securing
passage of campus crime legislation in Pennsylvania in 1988, similar
legislation has been passed in several states. The Clery's are
also recognized as the driving force behind the first federal
campus crime legislation.
In the early 1990s, two pieces of federal legislation were introduced
and passed in a climate of new concern about the safety of students
on college campuses: the Campus Security Act of 1990 and
the Campus Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights:
The Student Right to Know and Campus Security
Act of 1990
The Campus Security Act was the first federal legislation
to address the issue of crime on college campuses and reflects
a national commitment to increase campus safety. In brief, the
Act requires that institutions publish and distribute an
annual report which describes security and law enforcement policies,
crime prevention activities, procedures for reporting crimes on
campus, and certain campus crime statistics. The first reports
covered the 1991 academic year.
The Campus Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights
Amid continued media focus on several cases of alleged sexual assault on college campuses and the reported response of university officials and campus judicial bodies, the Campus Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights was passed in 1991. This legislation requires institutions of higher education to develop and publish as part of their campus security report, policies regarding the prevention and awareness of sex offenses, and procedures for responding after a sex offense occurs. A key point in the new statute is the responsibility of university officials to inform students of their rights, and provide them with clear information about how to report sex offenses and about the assistance (medical, legal and psychological) available for victims. These provisions became effective in 1993.
The Department of Education is responsible for the enforcement
of both statutes and failure to comply could mean the loss of
federal funds, including student loan monies, to an institution.
However, the Department of Education has not required universities
to submit annual reports for review. In addition, the reporting
requirements of the Campus Security Act have been amended
twice and the rule making process has been slow. The most recent
amendment, the Hate Crime Statistics Act (28 USC 534) requires
universities to report whether certain crimes (murder, forcible
rape, and aggravated assault) manifest evidence of prejudice based
on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. The final
regulations governing compliance with both campus crime laws were
issued on April 29, 1994.
Proposed Legislation: Open Campus Police Logs
Act of 1995
At the time of this printing (summer, 1996), an amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1965 is currently pending before Congress which, if passed, will require open security crime logs at this nation's colleges and universities.
Introduced by Congressman John Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), the bill would
require each institution participating in any program under this
title which maintains either a police or security department of
any kind to make, keep and, maintain a daily log, written in a
form that can be easily understood, recording in chronological
order all crimes against persons or property reported to its police
or security department, the date, time and location of such crimes,
and, if an arrest has been made, the names and addressed of all
persons arrested and charges against such persons arrested.
The proposed amendment also allows for the privacy
of persons reporting the crime or witnesses to the crime, unless
the release of such information is required by law.
Federal Campus Crime Reporting Requirements
Pursuant to the final regulations, the Campus Security Act and the Campus Sexual Victims Bill of Rights now require that colleges and universities include the following policy information and statistics in their annual security reports:
With regard to certain sex offenses, the institution's statement of policy must include the following information:
Reporting Campus Crime
For many institutions, gathering and publishing statistics on campus crime was not new. Approximately 325 universities had reported crime statistics to the FBI for inclusion in the annual publication of Uniform Crime Reports, prior to the Campus Security Act. The University of Washington Police Department has combined a community policing approach to law enforcement with an annual report to the university community for more than a decade.
Other institutions have been reluctant to release information about violent crimes and have been accused of attempting to "cover-up" incidents or to minimize their significance to the point of discouraging students from reporting or cooperating with local police departments. Such tactics have become an issue in several civil suits and were the impetus for enactment of the campus crime amendments to the Higher Education Act.
The recently legislated annual reports of campus crime statistics have been available for most schools since 1993. However, the changes in some reporting categories and differences in school reporting practices in the absence of final regulations, have made interpretation of the data difficult. In addition, the increased attention to the issue of crime on campus, may well influence the rate at which crimes are reported to campus law enforcement officials.
While the crime reports provide previously unavailable information,
it is agreed that the published numbers provide an incomplete
picture of the relative safety of any particular campus. The policies
and practices regarding the handling of individual criminal incidents
and the various of campus safety programs must also be considered.
Patterns of Campus Crime
An examination of the aggregate data compiled and published annually by the Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that patterns of crime on campus is similar to crime across the United States. Violent crime reports (aggravated assaults and robberies) increased and property crime (burglaries and motor vehicle thefts) decreased. The number of murders fell from 17 in 1992 to 15 in 1993.
In addition, the number of arrests for liquor, drug and weapons violations increased, suggesting increased law enforcement attention to these violations. This is particularly important because research suggests that alcohol and other drug abuse is directly related to crime perpetration and victimization.
Rape statistics were the most significantly affected by changes in reporting requirements since passage of the Campus Security Act in 1990, making year to year comparisons of reporting patterns impossible. However, other sources of data are useful in analyzing campus sex offense occurrences. According to numerous recent studies, sex offenses on college campuses have reached epidemic numbers. A Virginia Council on Higher Education survey of 5000 students found that five percent of female students were raped or sexually assaulted. However, only two percent reported the incidents to authorities and were thus reflected in campus crime statistics.
This trend has been repeated in other campus surveys. Rape is the most under reported crime, generally, and on college campuses nationwide as well. When asked why they have not reported rapes or attempted rapes, students have given several reasons. They:
Improved Treatment of Crime Victims
Although most of the initial discussion of the Campus Security
Act was focused on the reporting of campus crime statistics
and confusion about the requirements, the long-term effects of
the Act have been far greater. Crime on college campuses
and its impact on victims, the college, and the surrounding community
has received much needed attention. Many campus law enforcement
officials have reported resource increases that have improved
security and improved or clarified relationships with local police
or sheriff's departments. In addition, many universities have
developed or expanded crime victim assistance programs on campus
and established more formal ties with off-campus victim assistance
Information is a powerful tool in crime prevention and law enforcement. If students, faculty and other employees are made aware of the extent of crime in their midst, they can take precautions which will improve the likelihood of their safety. If applicants and their families have information about crime rates, they can make informed choices about schools and housing options.
Although monitoring of compliance by the Department of Education has been minimal, many schools have utilized the annual reporting process to clarify policies that are of critical importance to a crime victim. Having readily accessible information about crime prevention, information about how to report a crime, and/or how and where to seek services can be invaluable.
Policies and practices regarding crime prevention and security
are also important components of safety. Lighting, emergency phone
systems, shuttle services to transport students, escort services
for evening hours, locked dormitory doors, controlled access to
buildings, crime watch programs, and 24-hour security are all
responsible steps that schools can take to reduce the risk of
victimization of innocent students and faculty.
Civil liability for injuries sustained by students who are victims of crime on campus is the most recent outgrowth of the crime victims' rights movement. Attention to the treatment of victims of crime gained national prominence in the early 1980s when former President Reagan's Task Force on Victims of Crime released its report calling for improved treatment of victims by the criminal justice system and the community at large. The report identified the tendency for the public and some criminal justice professionals to "blame the victim" for his or her situation as an impediment to the fair and sensitive treatment of victims and effective prosecution of cases.
The Task Force recommended an array of legal and programmatic
reforms that would bring about greater balance in the criminal
justice system and provide for expanded services to help victims
recover from the trauma of their victimization. Throughout the
last decade, every state has passed some form of victims' rights
legislation; victim assistance programs have grown dramatically
in number; and victim compensation for out-of-pocket expenses
as a result of a violent crime is available in every state.
The enactment of the two new pieces of legislation cited above
in a two-year period, as well as the proposed amendment to the
Higher Education Act of 1995, is evidence of the impact of violent
crime and the strength of the victims' rights movement in the
world of higher education. The threat of civil suits will provide
additional impetus for many institutions to evaluate crime prevention
and security efforts. Whatever the reasons that motivate institutions
to improve their crime prevention, security and victim assistance
programs, the beneficiaries will be the students, faculty, staff
and the communities who will be spared the trauma of becoming
the victim of a violent crime, and ultimately, the university
Self Examination Chapter 21, Section 8
1) Name one mechanism used by victims to address
the problem of crime on college campus.
2) What is the purpose of federal legislation responding
to crime on college campus?
3) Name a national crime victims' advocacy organization
that is dedicated to remedying the problem of campus crime.
4) What kinds of information are colleges required
to compile and publish, who might be interested in having this
information, and why?
5) Briefly describe the components of your proposed, ideal campus crime victim assistance system.
Campus Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights (Public Law
Carrington, F. (1991). Campus crime and violence: A new trend
in crime victims' litigation. The Virginia Bar Association
Journal, XVII, (1).
Hate Crime Statistics Act (28 USC 534).
Student Assistance General Provisions, Campus Safety; Final
Rule. Department of Education, 34 CFR Part 668, Federal Register,
April 29, 1994.
Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act (Public Law
101-542, Title II -- The Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act
of 1990, amending the Higher Education Act of 1965).
Additional Suggested Reading
Bausell, R. B., Bausell, C. R., & Siegel, D. G. (1991). The
links among alcohol, drugs and crime on American college campuses:
A national follow up study. Silver Spring, MD: Business Publishers,
Burnley, J. N. (1992, October). Violent crime on campus: A new
threat. Management Issues -- For Colleges and Universities.
Kirkland, C. & Siegel, D. G. Campus security -- A first
look at promising practices. U.S. Department of Education.
(Publication No. 065-000-00681-2). Washington, DC: U.S. Government
Lederman, D. (1994, February 2). Crime on campuses. The Chronicle
of Higher Education.
Lederman, D. (1995, February 3). Colleges Report Rise in Violent
Crime. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. (1994, August). Advisory report -- Complying with the final regulations, the student right to know and Campus Security Act. Washington, DC: Author.
To Chapter 21-Section 9