The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

US Schools Must Disclose Information About Crime on and Around Campus - (Clery Act USA): Is Similar Legislation Required in Northern Ireland?


Sean Mc Aughey • 28 May 2004

The most recent yearly crime statistics released by the Police Service of Northern Ireland indicate that South Belfast has the highest crime rate in the country, recording 33,656 crimes since April 2002 to 31st March 2004 or about 46 crimes each day over the last 2 years.

South Belfast, which is also a home from home for about 12,000 students, is highest on the PSNI drugs seizures, drug arrests and racial incidents table and in the last 3 years over 9 murders (not paramilitary related) have occurred within a 2 square mile popular students' accommodation zone around Queen's University. Other crime within South Belfast's "student accommodation zone" includes assault; racist, homophobic and sectarian hate attacks, rape, burglaries, car theft and robberies and many of the victims of these crimes are students.

Colleges and Universities across America are required by law (Clery Act) to "forewarn and forearm" prospective students, current students and employees about crime on and around campus. All university applicants, students or employees can, on request, obtain the university's current 3 years crime statistics and a location map of where the crimes on or near campus are occurring. A University crime log must also be maintained, updated, and when requested by members of the public, readily available to them. But, are these measures necessary in Northern Ireland to protect and inform students and is a similar law required for local universities and colleges to enhance a "duty of care" for its paying customers - the students and their parents and all other tax payers?

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act ("Clery Act") is a United States federal law named in memory of 19-year-old Lehigh University Pennsylvania 'fresher' Jeanne Ann Clery, who was "tortured, raped, sodomized and murdered"in her dormitory room at the University on April 5, 1986. The Clery Act requires colleges and universities across the USA to disclose information about crime on and around their campus and to further notify the campus community about obtaining public "Megan's Law"information concerning registered sex offenders on campus.

The aftermath of a campus related crime for Jeanne's parents Howard and Connie Clery, demonstrates that an institutional response to such tragedies could involve "callousness, cover-ups and stonewalling" and that university and college campus crime was "one of the best-kept secrets in the country". The Clerys also quickly discovered that they were not alone in their grief. Because, across the United States, violent and non-violent incidents had been reported by victims and their families to campus authorities, but administrators failed to warn students about crime.

Despite Lehigh University's knowledge of more than 38 prior violent crimes on campus and 181 reports of propped-open doors at the students' halls of residence in the four months prior to Jeanne Clery's murder. University Officials 'publicly passed off Jeanne's torture and murder' as an "aberration"which was described by her parents as "an ill-conceived attempt (by the university) to protect its 'image' and unilaterally absolve itself", from the death of Jeanne Clery.

The Clery family then turned to the courts, suing the university for "negligent failure of security and failure to warn of foreseeable dangers on campus". The Clerys "were relieved, that the law did not tolerate wilful indifference to the personal safety of college students". Because, In 1988 Lehigh University settled with the family and agreed to materially enhance security on its campus.

The Clerys utilised some of the settlement to establish, in living memory of their daughter, "Security On Campus Incorporate"a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of criminal violence at universities and colleges and to students and parents, "right to know"about criminal activity on and around campus.

In Northern Ireland, a provision of safe after dark students' transport has remained a longstanding service by Students' Unions. Recently, the provision of 'attack alarms' has been introduced. Students are also advised to book a taxi home when going on a night-out but in reality, this is close to impossible. Because many if not all, taxi companies do not accept a pre-booking request at popular student establishments.

According to the web pages and archives of some universities and colleges in Northern Ireland the subject of crime occurring on or near any campus is almost non-existent. Local universities, colleges and the student's unions' World Wide Web sites do provide advice for students about matters of safety and victim prevention. But, reports about crimes near or on campus are rare.

Campus crime warning and reporting relating to areas of Northern Ireland where students live while attending college or university is far removed from the "Clery Model". Crime warnings for students rest more often with individual student victims of crime or a family member reporting the matter to journalists. Recently CCTV's and police phones have been installed at selected South Belfast locations where students socialise and live. Also, Some college and university authorities have endorsed the introduction of new anti social behaviour legislation and the employment of community civilian wardens to "police"and discipline students. No group is forewarning or forearming students about the exact nature of the danger to their safety in areas near, around or on Northern Ireland's campuses.

The Clery family and the organisation they founded and work for Security on Campus Inc, has spent the last 18 years protecting students and their families not only from criminals but from university "spin doctors". The Security on Campus Inc. is also developing a unique Peer Education Program to train college and university students to deliver campus crime awareness programs to high school students in the USA, (prospective college and university students). A program, that aims to bring greater awareness of students' rights and campus' danger to the American university students and parents of tomorrow. "Lest We Forget The Meaning of Her Death, That We Must Protect One Another, So That Her Life Will Not Have Been In Vain."

(Written on a memorial stone erected at Lehigh University to the memory of 1st year student Jeanne Ann Clery).





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

29 May 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


Door to Door: An Irish American House Call
Matthew Kavanah


Republicans who do not follow the Sinn Fein line are also entitled to their opinions
Dolours Price


What Made Us Distinct
Tommy Gorman


US Schools Must Disclose Information About Crime on and Around Campus - (Clery Act USA): Is Similar Legislation Required in Northern Ireland?
Sean Mc Aughey


Old Friends, New Friends
John Kennedy


Memorial Day on WBAI


No More Tears
Omar Barghouti


The Nothing Here to Celebrate Israel Parade, NYC
Mary La Rosa


Génocidaires In Gaza
Anthony McIntyre


A Writer's Writer
Henry McDonald


24 May 2004


Tipping Over Cash Cows
Seaghán Ó Murchú


Dying Easily
Anthony McIntyre


Danger to Society
Chrissie McGlinchey


The Moral Failure of the "Free World" in Gaza
Ghali Hassan


Colin Powell, DOA
Paul de Rooij


The Letters page has been updated.




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