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Clery Act – Frequently Asked Questions

Clery Act FAQ

Q.        What is the Jeanne Clery Act?

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Police and Campus Crime Statistics Act (commonly known as the Clery Act; formerly the Campus Security Act) is a federal law that requires institutions of higher education (colleges and universities) in the United States to disclose campus security information including crime statistics for the campus and surrounding areas. It was first enacted by Congress in 1990 and amended in 1992, 1998, 2000 and 2010.

Q.        Who is Jeanne Clery?

In 1986 Jeanne Clery, a freshman at Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University, was murdered and sexually assaulted in her campus residence hall room by another student she didn’t know. Her school hadn’t informed students about 38 violent crimes on campus in the three years preceding her murder. Clery’s parents, Connie & Howard, led the crusade to enact the original Campus Security Act. In 1998, Congress formally named the law in memory of Jeanne Clery.

Q.        Which schools must comply with the Clery Act?

All institutions of postsecondary education, both public and private, that participate in federal student aid programs must publish and disseminate an annual campus security report as well as make timely warnings of any criminal activities.

Q.        What does Vanderbilt have to disclose under the Clery Act?

Vanderbilt must publish and disseminate an annual campus security report by October 1st containing various security policies and three years’ worth of crime statistics. The University must also issue timely warnings about crimes that pose an ongoing danger. VUPD must also maintain a public crime log of all reported crimes.

Q.        What are the categories of crime statistics that must be disclosed?

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

Hate crimes must also be reported by category of prejudice:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Ethnicity
  • Disability

**Each incident is recorded in the calendar year it was reported – not in the year it occurred.

Q.        Are there other violations that must be included in the report?

The Clery Act requires that schools provide statistics for the following categories of arrests or, if an arrest was not made, referrals for campus disciplinary action:

  • Liquor Law Violations
  • Drug Law Violations
  • Illegal Weapons Possession

Q.        Who is entitled to receive information under the Clery Act?

Currently enrolled students and employees are to receive the school’s annual campus security report automatically. Prospective students and employees are provided with information about the report and entitled to request a copy. The general public, including parents and the news media, have access to the public crime log as well. There is a link to the current report on the VUPD website and faculty will receive notification through C2HR when the new report is published. Printed copies of the report are available at VUPD headquarters (111 28th Ave S). The daily crime log is also on the VUPD website and available at VUPD headquarters.

Q.        Do school officials other than law enforcement have reporting obligations under the Clery Act?

Yes, they do. All institutional officials with significant responsibility for campus and student activities have reporting obligations under the Clery Act. Faculty who serve as advisors to student groups, coaches, and staff involved in student affairs are all included in this group. Only professional mental health and pastoral counselors are exempt from reporting.

Q.        If a student reports something to me in confidence, do I still need to report the incident?

Yes, Any incident that falls in the above categories must be reported to VUPD however you may choose to report the incident without revealing the identity of the victim. VUPD will need to know the nature of the incident, the approximate time and location to ensure accurate statistics.

Q.        Does someone have to be convicted of a crime before it is reportable under the Clery Act?

No. Crimes are counted when they are reported regardless of prosecution.

Q.        Who enforces the Jeanne Clery Act and what are the penalties for noncompliance?

The United States Department of Education is charged with enforcing the Jeanne Clery Act and may level civil penalties against institutions of higher education up to $27,500 per violation or may suspend them from participating in federal student financial aid programs.

Q.        What is the difference between an ‘Alert VU’ and a ‘Security Notice’?

An ‘Alert VU’ is issued as an immediate notification of incidents which are deemed to pose a serious, immediate, and ongoing threat or confirmed emergency situations on or near campus. The key to this notification is that the threat is serious, on-going and immediate.  Individuals must currently sign up to receive an Alert VU, although a new system in the works will not require individual sign up.  Additionally there are five outdoor sirens and overhead announcements are activated in equipped VUMC facilities.

A ‘Security Notice’ is a notification that is used to inform the Vanderbilt community of potential threats (so less immediate) in the community so that individuals can make informed decisions about their own safety.  Security notices are issued via email to anyone who has a Vanderbilt.edu email address.  Security notices are sent out most often for:

1. Incidents with one or more of the following classifications:


Sex Offense; forcible or non-forcible;


Aggravated Assault;


Motor Vehicle Theft;


Arson; or

When repeated offenses warrant public notice (Multiple unsolved thefts with same possible suspect(s) or established patterns)

2. The offense occurs on or near Vanderbilt University facilities/property; and

3. There is a reason to believe that there is a threat to students and/or employees.

Q.        Who initiates an alert?

The VUPD supervisor on duty will make the determination to utilize the Alert VU system. VUPD works in conjunction with News and Communications and the Dean of Students office when drafting Security Notices. The alert systems are never used for news releases.

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If you need the Police:

EMERGENCY - Call 911 or (615) 421-1911
Non-Emergency - Call (615) 322-2745 or 2-2745 from a campus extension

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