Feds warn N.J. university of campus crime reporting law violations

The U.S. Departmentof Education has threatened to fine William Paterson University $55,000 forviolating the Clery Act, a federal law that requires universities to disclosecampus crime information to the public.

The DOE wrote a letter touniversity President Arnold Speert Oct. 14 stating that the school committed twoClery Act violations by prohibiting public access to the school’s campus crimelog and failing to record a theft complaint in the campus crime log.

TheClery Act was named in memory of Jeanne Clery, a student who was raped andmurdered at Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University in 1986. Schools that violate thefederal law face $27,500 for each violation or the possibility of losingeligibility to participate in federal student aid programs.

WilliamPaterson University, a public school in Wayne, can avoid the fines if it takesremedial action to correct both of the alleged violations by Nov. 12, the DOE’sletter said.

The university did not return phone calls requesting commentabout the allegations.

SPLC View: The DOE’s letter is thelatest in an effort to show schools that they cannot restrict media access tocampus crime statistics or withhold reported crimes from their campus crimelogs. If you believe your school is not complying with its reportingrequirements under the federal Clery Act, we urge you to take advantage of theDOE’s newfound willingness to enforce the law. For information on how to file acomplaint, please contact the SPLC.