Surveying the Crime Scene: Proposed Rules Aim to Make Campus Crime Statistics More Consumer-Friendly

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Surveying the Crime Scene: Proposed rules aim to make campus crime statistics more consumer-friendly

WASHINGTON -- Colleges and universities around the country will have to provide more information about crime on their campuses if new proposals by the U.S. Department of Education are accepted this fall.

The new rules are based on last year's revisions to the Jeanne Clery Campus Crime Statistics Act. Under the new laws, several major changes have been made to the reporting requirements by campuses.

Campus safety and journalism groups had lobbied for changes in the law, saying the current rules led to inconsistency in campus crime reports that confused prospective students and parents trying to compare the safety records of different campuses.

"This will go a long way in making sure statistics are uniform and accurate," says Daniel Carter, vice president of Security on Campus, a watchdog group in Pennsylvania. Under the current system, he says, "one school that reports less extensive crime categories than another may actually look more safe, even though there are just different categories."

The Campus Security Act of 1990 required colleges to make a crime report generally available on the campus and to provide it upon request to prospective students and employees. The report also is supposed to detail a college's crime-prevention policies and procedures.

Colleges also would have to report alcohol-, drug-, and weapons-related violations handled in closed-door judiciary hearings. Previously, colleges only had to report such incidents if an arrest was made. Public safety officials also would be required to inform students about where crimes actually occurred, including off-campus areas like streets, sidewalks, and parking areas not actually owned by universities. …


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