As many of you know, in April 2013 a formal complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) alleging that Occidental was in violation of the Clery Act.
Passed in 1990, the Clery Act is a federal consumer protection law that mandates the reporting of campus crime statistics and dictates the manner in which those statistics are reported to the public.
The Department of Education’s Clery Act Compliance Division of Federal Student Aid (CACD) has now completed its review of the College’s compliance with the Clery Act from 2009 to 2013. While the DOE has not yet made the report public, I feel it’s important to share it with the Oxy community.
In a report the College received August 15, CACD concludes that Occidental is now in compliance with the Clery Act, based on the changes made by the College over the past five years. However, during the period from 2009 to 2013, Occidental failed to meet its obligations in a number of areas that include failing to accurately compile and disclose crime statistics, issue timely warnings of potential safety threats, maintain accurate daily crime logs, and have adequate policies and procedures in place. These failures, the CACD found, were "numerous, serious, persistent, and systemic." A detailed summary of its findings are listed below.
In addition, while CACD found a potential compliance issue with another statute, the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act, CACD has confirmed in subsequent conversations that the College also is in compliance with that statute.
Due to the violations found during the review period, the College faces the possibility of substantial fines. The fines will be determined in a process separate from the review, and the College has been told that process will take at least 60 days, if not significantly longer. We will share the results of that process with you once we receive them.
CACD’s conclusions do not come as a surprise. We failed to get this right. Our own assessment, confirmed by the findings of the review, makes it clear that we simply did not dedicate sufficient time, resources and expertise to Clery reporting. As we and many of our peer institutions have learned, the requirements of the Clery Act are more complex and require more resources than previously believed. Since 2013, we have fully cooperated with CACD’s review and significantly invested in remedying our shortcomings. The safety of the Oxy community is a paramount concern, and we have learned much from this experience.
August 23, 2017
What Oxy Has Done
Spurred by concerned members of the Oxy community, the College’s efforts to address our Clery reporting shortcomings began with an internal review that resulted in a series of Clery report revisions starting in 2013 and continuing in 2014 and 2015. Additional steps the College has taken to improve its reporting of crime statistics include:
- Creating an internal Clery Compliance Team in June 2013 with representatives from Campus Safety, Title IX, Residential Education, and Human Resources;
- Hiring a new Campus Safety chief in August 2013;
- Hiring a full-time Clery coordinator in July 2014;
- Providing additional training for staff responsible for Clery reporting;
- Increasing professionalization of Campus Safety policies and procedures;
- Bringing in consultants to advise on ways to improve policies and procedures; and
- Improving transparency measures for issues on campus that present safety concerns, whether required by Clery or not. Examples include community-wide safety bulletins and an annual Title IX report of formal and informal complaints.
We are grateful to the Oxy community for helping us to address this important issue, and are confident we now have the resources, policies, and procedures in place to fully meet our reporting responsibilities and, more importantly, the needs of the Oxy community. Occidental now meets Clery requirements in all areas examined in the review and will remain steadfast in ensuring future compliance. In the course of the next few weeks, we will explore with Faculty Council and the ASOC the value of holding public meetings to further examine the results of the review.
Message to campus - August 23, 2017
Here is a summary of the findings identified in the review:
- Occidental failed to compile and disclose accurate, complete and fully reconciled crime statistics from 2009 to 2013, as demonstrated by the College’s self-reported revisions to its 2013, 2014 and 2015 Clery reports. This includes crimes incorrectly reported because they occurred in the Campus Safety escort zone, outside of Clery reporting boundaries, as well as misreported internal referrals of drug and alcohol violations to the Office of Student Conduct. The review found a total of 315 errors: 79 under-reporting errors, where crimes should have been included, and 236 over-reporting errors, where the College included crimes and referrals that should not have been included. Some crimes were misclassified: burglary was misclassified as grand theft in some instances, for example. In addition, the statistics cited in the 2009 to 2012 Clery reports in some cases did not match the numbers sent to the DOE’s Office of Postsecondary Education.
- The College failed to issue timely warnings to campus in at least four incidents from 2009 to 2013, including a 2012 incident when a Eagle Rock High School student was groped by an unknown man on campus, and three off-campus street robberies. Other warnings were too vague and left out essential details, the review found.
- The College failed to maintain an accurate and complete daily crime log. As part of its comprehensive review, Oxy retroactively added 36 incidents to the 2012 crime log, 31 to the 2013 crime log, and two to the 2014 crime log. An audit for the review found 45 incidents during a four-month period that should have appeared in the 2012 crime log.
- The College failed to develop and then adhere to required campus-safety and crime-prevention policies and procedures, training initiatives and systems. The review found Oxy did not employ an adequate number of qualified staff from 2009 to 2013 and did not operate within a system of internal controls sufficient to reasonably ensure compliance. The College "tacitly conceded that officials in place at the time were unaware of many of the College’s obligations under Federal law," the review found.
- The College omitted or provided inadequate required statements of policy, procedure and availability of programs and resources for a total of eight areas in its annual Clery reports for 2010 through 2014. Some of these omissions were repeated over multiple years during that time period. In some cases, these omissions were the result of a failure to develop policy or procedure in several areas.
- During the period from 2009 to 2011, the College failed to identify its Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) — employees from such departments as Campus Safety, Athletics, Residence Education and, in certain cases, faculty — advise them of their crime-reporting obligations, and provide them with a simplified means to report offenses. As a result, crime statistics were not collected from CSAs during this period. These failures "caused information to be disseminated to campus community members and other stakeholders that was false and that served to make the campus and near-campus community appear safer than it was."
- The College failed to develop and implement a comprehensive drug and alcohol policy abuse-prevention program. Specifically, student and employee handbooks did not address the health risks of drug and alcohol use or the counseling, treatment and rehabilitation programs available, and did not provide a description of sanctions imposed for policy violations. Another finding criticized the College’s biennial reviews of the program, saying they did not assess its effectiveness or the consistency of the sanctions applied. While the report states the College was not in compliance with these requirements at the time the report was issued, the College has confirmed with a CACD Compliance Specialist that it is in compliance currently.
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