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Clery Act – Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Jeanne Clery Act?
  2. Who is Jeanne Clery?
  3. Which schools must comply with the Clery Act?
  4. What does Vanderbilt have to disclose under the Clery Act?
  5. Who is entitled to receive information under the Clery Act?
  6. What is the Daily Crime Log?
  7. Do school officials other than law enforcement have reporting obligations under the Clery Act?
  8. If a student reports an incident to a Campus Security Authority (CSA) in confidence, is the incident still reported to VUPD?
  9. Does someone have to be convicted of a crime before it is reportable under the Clery Act?
  10. What criteria is used to determine how crimes are reported?
  11. What is Clery Geography?
  12. How are crimes counted?
  13. What are the categories and definitions of the Primary Clery crimes that must be disclosed?
  14. What is a Hate Crime?
  15. How does the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) affect the Clery Act?
  16. How are the VAWA offenses defined?
  17. Are there other violations that must be included in the Annual Security Report?
  18. If more than one crime occurs in the same incident, which offense is reported?
  19. Are there exceptions to the hierarchy rule?
  20. What is the difference between an AlertVU and a Security Notice?
  21. Who enforces the Jeanne Clery Act and what are the penalties for noncompliance?
  22. Where can I find more information on the Clery Act and its reporting requirements?


1. 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 most recently amended in 2013 by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.


2. 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.

3. 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 ongoing threats to the campus community.


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

Vanderbilt must disclose the most recent three years of Clery crime statistics and security policies in the Annual Security Report that must be published by October 1st of each year.

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

Currently enrolled students and employees are notified of the availability of the Annual Security Report. Prospective students and employees are eligible to receive the Annual Security Report and are provided information on how to request a copy. The general public, including parents and the news media, have access to the Annual Security Report and the Daily Crime Log, which are available on the VUPD website. Printed copies of the Annual Security Report and the daily crime log are available at VUPD headquarters (111 28th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37212) during normal business hours.


6. What Is the Daily Crime Log?

The purpose of the daily crime log is to record criminal incidents and alleged criminal incidents that are reported to VUPD or Campus Security Authority (CSA). A crime must be entered into the crime log within two business days of the reporting to VUPD.


7. 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 are referred to in the Clery Act as a Campus Security Authority (CSA).  All CSA’s 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 when acting in these roles.


8. If a student reports an incident to a Campus Security Authority (CSA) in confidence, is the incident still reported to VUPD?

Yes.  According to the Clery Act, any incident that falls in the Clery crime categories, as listed in questions 13-17, must be recorded in the Daily Crime Log and the statistic reported in the Annual Security Report.  So even if the incident is reported to VUPD anonymously (without revealing the identity of the victim) through a Campus Security Authority (CSA), VUPD is required to record the nature of the incident, the approximate time and location to ensure accurate statistics.


9. 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.


10. What criteria is used to determine how crimes are reported?

The Clery Act requires Vanderbilt to report statistics on Clery crimes in the annual security report. The criteria for reporting these crimes are as follows:

  • All Clery crimes reported to VUPD, a Campus Security Authority (CSA) or other law enforcement
  • Location within the Clery Geography
  • Crimes must be disclosed in the year reported


11. What is Clery Geography?

The Clery Act requires institutions to report crimes based on the following geographical specifications.

On Campus

  • Includes buildings and properties that are owned or controlled by the institution; that are reasonably contiguous to one another; and directly supports or relates to Vanderbilt’s educational purposes.
  • Includes buildings and properties within Vanderbilt’s campus, or reasonably contiguous to it, that Vanderbilt owns but does not control; are frequently used by students; and are used to support the institution’s educational purposes.

Residential Facilities are a subset of the On Campus category that must be separately disclosed and counted. It includes the following types of housing:

  • Undergraduate, graduate and married student housing.
  • Single family houses that are used for student housing.
  • Summer school student housing.
  • Buildings that are used for student housing but also have faculty, staff or any other individuals living there.
  • Buildings that are owned by a third party that has a written agreement with the institution to provide student housing. It doesn’t matter whether the rent is paid to the third party by the institution on behalf of the students or paid directly by the students.
  • Housing for officially and not officially recognized student groups, including fraternity or sorority houses, that are owned or controlled by Vanderbilt or are located on property that Vanderbilt owns or controls.

Public Property refers to property owned by a public entity, such as a state or city government.  It includes thoroughfares, streets, sidewalks, and parking facilities, that is within the campus, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the campus.

Non Campus

  • Any building or property owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by the institution; or
  • Any building or property owned or controlled by the institution that is used in direct support of, or in relation to, the institution’s educational purposes, is frequently used by students, and is not within the same reasonably contiguous geographic area of the institution.


12. How are crimes counted?
All crimes are counted by the date reported to a Campus Security Authority (CSA) or to the VUPD, this date is often different from the date the incident occurred.


13. What are the categories and definitions of the Primary Clery crimes that must be disclosed?

  • Murder & Non-negligent Manslaughter – the willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another.
  • Negligent Manslaughter – the killing of another person through gross negligence.
  • Sex Offenses
    • Rape – The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. (Note: The Rape definition also includes crimes of sodomy and sexual assaults with an object)
    • Fondling – The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity.
    • Incest – Non-forcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
    • Statutory Rape – Non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the age of consent.
  • Robbery – the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.
  • Aggravated Assault – an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm.
  • Burglary – the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or a theft.
  • Motor Vehicle Theft – the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle.
  • Arson – any willful or malicious burning or attempt to burn, with or without intent to defraud, a dwelling house, public building, motor vehicle or aircraft, personal property of another, etc.


14. What is a Hate Crime?

A criminal offense committed against a person or property which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias. Bias is a preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons based on their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, national origin or gender identity. The perception of the offender determines if a hate crime is classified.  There must be evidence that shows the offender was motivated by a bias to commit the crime.

The following are examples from The Handbook on Campus Safety and Security Authority:

“A white student causes a disturbance in an on-campus classroom during a discussion on race relations. The student begins shouting racial epithets while pointing at black class members. The instructor calls campus security for assistance. A white security officer and a black security officer arrive. When the black officer tries to subdue the student, the student starts shoving the officer and shouting racial epithets at him.” This incident would be classified as one on-campus Simple Assault characterized by racial bias.

“A campus police officer overhears a white student and a black student arguing over a parking space on campus. They are shouting obscenities at one another and the white student shoves the black student who scrapes his hand on the asphalt when he falls. The officer approaches the students and asks for an explanation for the argument. The students tell him that one of them was driving toward the parking space first but didn’t use his turn signal to indicate he wanted to park there. The other student drove into the space not knowing that the first student had intended to park there. The officer did not find any evidence that the Simple Assault was motivated by bias.” The incident will not be classified as a hate crime.

Categories of hate crime offenses include all Primary Clery crimes, as well as, Larceny-theft, Simple Assault, Intimidation, and Destruction/damage/vandalism of property.


15. How does the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) affect the Clery Act?

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act amended the Clery Act by requiring institutions of higher education to compile statistics for incidents of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking and to include policies, procedures and programs regarding these incidents in the institution’s annual security report.


16. How are the VAWA offenses defined?

  • Sex Offenses
  • Domestic Violence – A felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed: By a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim; By a person with whom the victim shares a child in common; By a person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the victim as a spouse or intimate partner; By a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred, or; By any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred.
  • Dating Violence – Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. For the purpose of this definition, dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse. Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.
  • Stalking – Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to: Fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or Suffer substantial emotional distress.
    • Course of Conduct -Two or more acts, including but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveys, threatens, or communicates to or about a person or interferes with a person’s property.
    • Substantial Emotional Distress – Significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.


17. Are there other violations that must be included in the Annual Security 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


18. If more than one crime occurs in the same incident, which offense is reported?

The Clery Act follows a hierarchy rule where only the most serious offense is reported in the annual Clery statistics.  The hierarchy rule does not apply to the crime log, so all offenses related to the incident would be recorded in the crime log.

For example:  An incident that includes an aggravated assault and a burglary, would only be reported as an aggravated assault in the annual crime statistics; but both the aggravated assault and burglary would be recorded on the crime log.


19. Are there exceptions to the hierarchy rule?

Yes.  Arson is always reported.  But, when multiple offenses occur during an Arson offense, the most serious offense is reported along with the Arson.

The new VAWA regulations removes the hierarchy rule in crimes that include a homicide with a sexual assault.


20. What is the difference between an AlertVU and a Security Notice?

The AlertVU is an immediate notification system utilized when there is a confirmed immediate threat or danger to the Vanderbilt community. Some examples where an AlertVU could be used include: a tornado approaching Vanderbilt, a gas leak, an active shooter on campus, or a bomb threat.

All Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff are automatically enrolled in the AlertVU system through their Vanderbilt email address.  Notification through the AlertVU is also available for phone and text alerts.  For more information on the AlertVU system or to update your contact information, please follow this link to the Vanderbilt University Emergency Preparedness website.

A Security Notice is a timely warning that is used to notify the Vanderbilt community of serious or on-going threats as soon as pertinent information is available.   The Security Notice is distributed community-wide so individuals can make informed decisions about their own safety.  The Security Notice is also distributed to aid in the prevention of similar crimes if a pattern is determined.


21. 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 $35,000 per violation or may suspend them from participating in federal student financial aid programs.


22. Where can I find more information on the Clery Act and its reporting requirements?

The United States Department of Education website has various resources to assist institutions in maintaining full compliance with the Clery Act.  The Handbook on Campus Safety and Security Authority includes guidelines on how institutions must report and manage Clery compliance issues.


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