How to File a Clery Act Complaint

I. Overview of Clery
II. Overview of The Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights
III. When to File a Clery Act Complaint
IV. How to File a Clery Act Complaint*
V. Clery Act FAQs

*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.

I. Overview of Clery

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, more commonly known as the Clery Act, is a federal statute codified in 1990 that aimed to improve security on college campuses.  The Act was named after 19 year old Jeanne Clery, who was raped and murdered in her dorm room in1986.  The Act is enforced by the United States Department of Education. The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to do the following with regards to sexual assault reports: 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 serious or ongoing threat to students and employees, 4) Devise anemergency response, notification, and testing policy.

For more detailed information, check out:

“The Clery Act in Detail.”

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

 II. Overview of The Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights

The “Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights,” enacted in 1992, exists as a part of the as the Jeanne Clery Act.  Its aim is to combat the re-victimization of survivors who come forward and to ensure equality in an adjudication or hearing process.  According to the Victims’ Bill of Rights, all institutions receiving federal funding must adhere to 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

-Survivors shall be notified of counseling services

-Survivors shall be notified of their options for changes in both academic and living situations

http://dsa.csupomona.edu/vpwrc/files/campus_sexual_assault_bill_of_rights_7546.pdf

All institutions should adhere to the above Bill of Rights when the crime of sexual assault is reported and/or during a university investigation, hearing, or adjudication process.

III.  When to file a Clery Act Complaint

An individual can file a Clery Act complaint when they feel that any of their Clery Act rights have been violated by their institution.  Most often individuals exhaust the options at the college/university level in regards to anything under Clery’s purview before pursing a complaint, but this is not always the case.

IV.  How to File a Clery Act Complaint

A Clery complaint can be submitted via US mail, facsimile (fax), or email.  The easiest and most direct way is via email.  The complaint can be submitted as an attachment, or if the file is too large, it can be submitted as a dropbox file. The first point of contact for all questions and complaints is Clery@ed.gov.

Any individual may file a Clery complaint.  There is intentionally no specific format or layout used when filing because Clery’s intention is to make the complaint option available to anyone, regardless of title, position, or legal experience.  Legal language is not necessary; oftentimes survivors recount violations of Clery with their personal experiences in the form of narratives.

V. Clery FAQs

Q: Do I need a lawyer to file a Clery Act complaint against my school?
A: No, in fact most complaints do not involve lawyers at all.  However, legal counsel is a personal choice and may work for some and not for others.

Q: Where can I find additional examples of Clery Act violations?
A: OSAC has a great website which addresses this: http://oxysexualassaultcoalition.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/why-is-osac-filing-complaints-against-occidental.pdf

Q: When will I hear back about my case after I file?
A: It depends; the Clery office is extremely busy and will probably prioritize cases that already have an ongoing investigation.  One could hear back in less than three weeks or more than three months; there is no exact timeline

Q: Does filing a Clery Act complaint cost any money?
A: No.

Q: Can I submit a complaint anonymously?
A: Yes, you can submit your story anonymously, but it is generally best to have at least one person who is willing to be a contact/point person.  If you do not use your name, Clery can’t look at your individual case.

Q: Will Clery tell my parents or the media about the fact that I filed?
A: No.

Q: Will Clery tell me school that I filed?
A: If you use your name and the school has a file from your case, Clery will request to see those files, but they are private and should not be shown to anyone else.

Q: I submitted my complaint, but then my college violated Clery again, do I submit a new complaint?
A: You do not need to submit a new complaint, you can just simply email Clery@ed.gov with the subject line of your school and update the information.

Q: Should I detail “more” or “less” information in the complaint?
A: Add as much as you feel comfortable.  With Clery, unlike in a civil case, more information is better.  The Dept. of Ed is supposed to be a neutral fact finder, therefore there isn’t a risk of “showing your cards,” you’re simply giving them information to help them investigate better.

Q: What will Clery “do” if my school is found in violation?
A: Clery has the capacity to fine up to $35,000 per violation.

Q: What are the categories of crimes that must be reported?
A:

  • Homicide
    • Murder & Manslaughter
  • Sex Offenses
    • Forcible
    • Non-Forcible
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Burglary
  • Motor Vehicle Theft
  • Arson

Hate crimes must also be reported by category, including by the following: Race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and disability.

Credits:
Annie Clark, University of North Carolina/University of Oregon
Dr. Danielle Dirks, Occidental College
Dr. Caroline Heldman, Occidental College
Occidental Sexual Assault Coalition (OSAC)
Security on Campus Inc.
US Department of Education

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.