Congress Tells Dept. of Education to Get Tough with Schools that Violate Campus Crime Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A resolution calling on the U.S. Department of Education to make campus security compliance a priority was passed by the House of Representatives Sept. 11.

The unanimous vote approving H.Res.470 issued a challenge to Secretary of Education Richard Riley’s thus far limited effort to monitor safety on the nation’s university and college campuses.

Under the 1990 Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act, every college and university receiving any federal funding must compile campus crime statistics. In remarks made earlier this year, however, the Education Department said monitoring school’s compliance with the law was not a “priority.”

Lax supervision by the Department, including a missed deadline for a Congressionally mandated compliance report (due September 1995), has given universities free reign over issuing questionable statistics. Many schools have been accused of altering or underreporting crime rates to make campuses look safer.

Before the vote on H.Res. 470, criticism of Riley’s actions and university non-compliance with the law were heard at a Capitol Hill press conference. Rep. Bill Goodling (R-Pa.), Chairman of the House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee and co-sponsor of H.Res.470, chided the Education Department for its lack of aggressiveness in enforcing the law. He suggested that if the current resolution does not force the department into action, then stronger measures would be taken.

Among those who spoke at the conference were Connie Clery, whose daughter Jeanne Anne was raped and murdered in 1986 by a fellow student who broke into her Lehigh University dorm room. After discovering negligent and conflicting information relating to Lehigh’s reporting of campus crime, the Clery family has pursued stricter state and local laws for reporting campus crime information.

Other speakers included Rep.Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), co-sponsor of the resolution; Connie Clery’s son Benjamin; Addie Mix, the mother of a campus murder victim and founder of Reclaim a Youth; campus crime victim Christy Brzonkala; Society of Professional Journalists President-Elect Steve Geimann; Student Press Law Center Executive Director Mark Goodman and Jennifer Markiewicz, a former editor of the Miami Student who is currently involved in an public records lawsuit with Miami University of Ohio.

At the conference, the Clerys and others also pushed for adoption of the Open Campus Police Logs Act. This bill, H.R. 2416, sponsored by Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.) and 38 co-sponsors would make campus police and security logs open to public inspection.

  • Read the full text of H.Res. 470.
  • Read the full text of H.R. 2416, the federal Open Campus Police Logs Act.
  • Read the full press conference statement of SPLC Executive Director Mark Goodman.
  • Read the full press conference statement of Christy Brzonkala, who sued Virginia Tech University following on-campus sexual assault.