New campus crime bill would close loopholes, open daily logs and provide access to campus courts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress is taking another shotat requiring American colleges and universites to accurately reportinformation about campus crime, today, as it introduces new legislationdesigned both to close existing loopholes in current laws andto prevent schools from hiding campus crime information in inaccessibledaily crime logs or behind the doors of their campus court systems.

Supporters say the new legislation is necessary not only toclarify existing reporting requirements but also to prevent theongoing practice of many schools to evade the law.

“For too long image conscious administrators have puttheir students at risk by withholding crime report informationand this bill will end that practice,” said Daniel Carter,Vice President of the group Security on Campus, a leading proponentof the new legislation.

Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center,in Arlington, Va., agreed.

“We hear from dozens of student journalists each yearthat tell us the information they receive from their schools aboutcampus crime simply doesn’t square with reality. We hope thislegislation will change that. Unfortunately, some schools — witha nod from the Department of Education — have done everythingthey could to hide or disguise the truth about campus crime. Andthose same schools, fearful that high crime numbers will scareaway potential students and their parents, will be fighting toothand nail to keep this bill from becoming law.”

The “Accuracy in Campus Crime Reporting Act of 1997,”(H.R. 715) was introduced by Congressmen John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN)and Charles E. Schumer (D-NY). Among its various provisions itwould:

  • (1) require that all schools receiving federal funds — whichincludes all public school and almost every private school –maintain and provide public access to a crime log detailing the”nature, date, time and general location” of each incidentreported to the school’s security department;
  • (2)require that campus disciplinary proceedings and recordsthat involve criminal allegations be open to the public;
  • (3) expand the types of crimes that must be reported underthe existing Campus Security Act of 1990, which requires schoolsto compile an annual statistical report of criminal activitythat occurs on campus;
  • (4) clarify that almost all school officials and employees– not just campus security personnel — must report statisticalinformation about campus crime reported to them; and
  • (5) impose monetary penalties on schools that violate thenew reporting requirements.