Moorhead State University Cited for Violating Campus Crime Reporting Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990 may finally have found a few of its teeth.

For the first time in the law’s five-year history the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has cited a school for failing to report accurate campus crime statistics.

In response to a 1995 complaint filed by former student Margaret Jakobson, the DOE cited Moorhead State University, in Minnesota, on September 13, for failing to comply with the 1990 law that requires schools to compile annual statistical reports on campus crime. DOE investigators found that the university1s crime statistics did not reflect the actual number of crimes reported to campus officials. Instead, investigators found, the school used crime estimates provided by the local police department. Investigators also found that Moorhead officials failed to include crimes that occurred on off-campus properties owned or controlled by the university, as the law requires. The school also did not tell students or faculty members that the annual campus crime report was available. The law requires that schools actively distribute the report to members of the campus community.

The DOE will determine within 30 days whether to assess penalties against Moorhead State, which could include the withdrawal of federal funds.

While she is pleased that the DOE has finally acted, Jakobson says that the DOE must now assess penalties against Moorhead State in order for it and other schools to take the requirments of the Campus Security Act seriously.

”I believe this is a good first step on a long journey on the road to justice,” Jakobson said.

The citation against Moorhead State comes in the wake of increasing pressure against the DOE to take a more active role in ensuring accurate compliance with the Campus Security Act. The DOE has been criticized by several groups for failing to act on charges of inaccurate campus crime reporting. More recently, the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling upon the DOE to do a better job enforcing the law.

To learn more about the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990, see the SPLC Access to Campus Crime Statistics packet.