Common Concerns When Filing a Clery Complaint

I’m Not Sure If My Clery Rights Were Violated.

Elsewhere on this website, we’ve detailed your rights under Clery. You can check that out here.

In brief:

The Clery Act places certain requirements upon schools but also guarantees students a number of rights. The rights given in the Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights are the following:

  • Accuser and accused must have the same opportunity to have others present at a hearing or disciplinary procedure
  • Both parties (alleged victim and alleged perpetrator) shall be informed of the outcome of any disciplinary proceeding
  • Survivors shall be informed of their options to notify public law enforcement and offered assistance in doing so
  • Survivors shall be notified of counseling services
  • Survivors shall be notified of their options for changes in both academic and living situations
  • The recent Campus SaVE Act <link> with expand the Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights to include more specifics

In addition, schools are required to:

1. Publish an Annual Security Report (ASR),

2. Disclose crime statistics for incidents that occur on campus, in unobstructed public areas immediately adjacent to or running through the campus and at certain non-campus facilities,

3. Issue timely warnings about Clery Act crimes which pose a current or ongoing threat to students and employees,

4. Devise an emergency response, notification, and testing policy.

For more detailed information on these requirements and your rights, you can read our other resource guides or:

For more detailed information about the Clery Act:

http://www.securityoncampus.org/summary-jeanne-clery-act

The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting (PDF): http://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/handbook.pdf

If you feel your schools has violated your rights but not in ways covered by the Clery Act and its amendments, you may have a Title IX complaint and should check out our related resource guides.

I can’t find the information on how to file a Clery complaint.

Your complaint, as well as any questions you might have, can be submitted to Clery@ed.gov. You can also call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). There’s no template or format to follow when writing your complaint, and you do not need to worry about using legal language. In fact, it is common for testimony to take the form of narrative accounts of personal experiences. There is also no length requirement – or limit – so you can be as thorough and detailed as you are comfortable being. Make sure to include your school’s name.

I don’t know what information should be included in my complaint.

You should include whatever information you feel comfortable sharing. Too many details are better than too few, as the details you give will help the Department of Education in its investigation. The focus of your testimony should be on how your school violated your rights. As such, you don’t necessarily need to give a detailed account of your original assault or harassment, though you can certainly include such information if you are comfortable doing so and feel that it would add to your narrative. If you can offer specifics – names, dates, locations – do so, but there’s no requirement to do so. Again, you don’t have to worry about legalese. The Department of Education wants anyone to feel able to submit testimony, regardless of background or training, so give your account in language that feels comfortable to you. If you want someone to read over your testimony, you can contact us. We promise to remain confidential.

I am unsure whether I should submit my complaint anonymously or not.

Though you can choose to submit your complaint anonymously, if you do so, Clery will not be able to investigate your individual case or ask to see school files related to your case. If you’re filing with a group of people, it is best to have at least one person include their name and serve as a point of contact for Clery.

Even if you do include your name, Clery will not share your testimony, or the fact that you filed a complaint, with your school or anyone else. However, they may ask to see the school’s files related to your case. These files will not be shown to anyone else.

I am afraid that my school will retaliate against me for filing a complaint.

The Clery Act prohibits any form of retaliation. Of course, just because something is prohibited doesn’t mean it won’t happen, or else you wouldn’t be filing your complaint to begin with. If you believe your school is retaliating against you after you’ve filed your complaint, you can send an update to clery@ed.gov. Your school’s name should be in your subject line.

In the meanwhile, you may want to turn to other sources of support. You can also reach out to the Clery Center, who will help provide you with general legal information for no charge and can provide referrals for legal counsel and other advocacy providers. To contact the Clery Center, go to http://clerycenter.org/Node/5 .

I submitted a Clery complaint, but haven’t heard anything back. How can I be sure my complaint is being investigated?

The Clery Office is generally very busy and may take some time to get to your case; there is no set timeline on when they will respond and investigate. If you are concerned, you can email clery@ed.gov. You can also contact the Case Management Team handling cases in the state of your school; you can find their contact information at http://www2.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/services/casemanagement.html.

I am concerned that my complaint might affect my school’s financial aid policies.

An institution’s compliance with the Clery Act is tied to its participation in federal student financial aid programs, and Clery may be fined up to $35,000 per violation. If such fines are imposed upon the conclusion of a Clery investigation or if your school’s participation in these federal financial aid programs is affected, it will certainly impact your school’s budget. However, school budgets increase and decrease annually, and usually do so without substantially affecting financial aid awards. Your school is more likely to find money for financial aid elsewhere in its budget, because ceasing to offer sufficient financial aid awards after being found responsible in a Clery complaint would only further harm the school’s public image.

Your legal rights should not be held hostage by your school or by your classmates. Ultimately, if Clery finds your school in violation, your school, and not you, is responsible for any repercussion for failing to follow the law and protect your rights.

I am trying to find other survivors on my campus to see if they have had similar experiences and potentially file complaints with me, but am not sure how to go about doing this.

Your school is likely to have a survivors’ group or advocacy group you can contact. You might also consider asking friends you trust if they know anyone who might be comfortable filing with you.

I have a question that I can’t find the answer to.

Please take a look at our other resource guides to see if your question is covered elsewhere. In addition, the Clery Center for Security On Campus provides free technical assistance; you can contact them at (484) 580-8754 or by email at info@clerycenter.org.

Although these resources have been written with the guidance of legal experts, we are not lawyers, and the information on this website does not constitute legal advice. We encourage you to contact a lawyer to discuss your complaint or suit.