One thing is evident with the release of the report on the Penn State scandal: Every academic institution should have a Clery compliance office or officer, the same way schools have an NCAA compliance office for athletics.
The Clery Act requires eligible institutions not only to document and disclose violent campus crimes but also to facilitate policies on reporting crimes. The Penn State report found that Jerry Sandusky’s crimes went unreported in part because of poor training and resources for Clery compliance. With a centralized unit, a Clery compliance office could train faculty, educate students, provide resources, and cooperate with law enforcement with policymaking and investigations.
A Clery compliance officer should help foster an environment of not just legal disclosure but community awareness, where administrators, staff and students understand their roles in preventing and reporting crime and policy violations, even ones affecting the most respected or powerful people on campus.
Victims especially need to feel comfortable being able to report their victimization and know that any alleged crimes or violations will be investigated thoroughly and handled appropriately. No student or employee should be afraid to report incidents because he or she fears retaliation or being ignored.
Penn State hired a full-time Clery compliance officer in March. Other schools should now follow.