U.S. Dept. of Education to hold regional public hearings on new campus crime law

The U.S. Department of Education is inviting comments and testimony in early December from those who will be affected by the recently enacted Higher Education Amendments. Among the provisions on which comments have been solicited are those expanding the requirements for the reporting of campus crime statistics by schools as well as the new requirement that schools maintain an open campus police log. (Another important provision of the new law that would allow schools to open up the outcome of campus disciplinary proceedings involving crimes of violence are not a part of this round of comment.)

Hearings at which members of the public can testify are scheduled for December 4-5 in Washington, D.C., December 8-9 in Chicago and December 11-12 in Los Angeles. Anyone can ask for 5 minutes to make a statement; sign-ups (first-come, first served) begin at 8:30 a.m. each morning. Written comments should be sent to Brian Kerrigan, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave., S.W., ROB-3, Washington, DC 20202-5257, or faxed to (202) 205-0786, or e-mailed tonhea98negotiated_rulemaking@ed.gov

This is a rare opportunity for members of the campus media to have a direct impact on their right of access to campus crime information under this new law. Student journalists and advisers can, for example, offer their support for a broad definition of “campus security authorities,” to ensure that crimes reported to any campus official will be included in crime statistics, not just those reported to campus police or security. They can urge that the definition of “nature” and “general location” of criminal incidents that must be included in crime logs should be detailed so that they provide useful information to the public and the press. For more ideas about comments you might make, see those offered by the organization Security on Campus at their Web site: www.soconline.org/LEGIS/105/comments.html

For specific locations of the hearings or more details about the subject matter, see the Federal Register (volume 63, no. 215, pages 59922-59923, 11/6/98), which is available on line from the U.S. Department of Education Web site at: www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/proprule/1998-4/110698a.html