I wrote an article not long ago about some of the upcoming changes to the Clery Act, which requires institutions of higher learning to disclose information about crime on its campuses. The most significant changes include requiring schools to have security plans and conduct security drills, publish how they notify students during an emergency, and specifically report hate crimes.
By October 1 of each year, institutions must publish and distribute their Annual Campus Security Report to current and prospective students and employees. This report is required to provide crime statistics for the prior three years, policy statements regarding various safety and security measures, campus crime prevention program descriptions, and procedures to be followed in the investigation and prosecution of alleged sex offenses (thank you Wikipedia).
BUT, I just read a really interesting blog in the Huffington Post that these types of laws don't do enough to ensure that students are actually safer. As a matter of fact, this article claims that the Clery Act, combined with another federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, actually prevents schools from disclosing information that identifies a student involved in a crime.
Because campus disciplinary proceedings result in records that identify students and are maintained by an institution, and because those records are not in the possession of campus security, federal law can be interpreted as preventing the school from disclosing the specifics of what goes on in these proceedings.
So, as this author points out, when a crime occurs the school is required to report the incident, but also can't legally reveal the identification of the student to the public, which I think is actually jeopardizing student safety.
While I understand the reasoning behind the law, that schools can't publicly expose someone who hasn't been convicted of a crime, from a student perspective wouldn't you want to know that the person sitting next to you in class is accused of a serious crime? The most significant issue that this blog highlights is that schools aren't legally required to report the findings of such crimes to the public, good or bad, and that is not in the best interest of the safety of students.
If someone is accused of sexual assault, we need to know if they are guilty. We also need to know if they were wrongly accused. And we cannot leave that responsibility to a panel of people who have no obligation to report their findings to the public, or even to be right in their outcome.