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Safe and Secure

August 28, 2014
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For those who subscribe to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the need for safety and security is foundational, just after the basic Maslows Hierarchy of Needsphysiological needs of air, water, food, shelter, etc.  As humans, with or without Maslow’s chart, it is a given that we place a strong emphasis on safety and security.  This is evidenced in our society partly by the laws we enact.  Even the higher education community has legislation for which it is responsible that is related to individuals’ safety and security needs.  Those in the postsecondary education arena know well what that means, especially at this season of the year.  It is once again time for the 2014 edition of the annual Campus Safety and Security Survey, which the U.S. Department of Education (ED) so graciously provides.  But, before we delve into the requirements and time frame for completing the survey, let us explore some concepts and terminology, as well as recent changes, so we feel more “safe and secure” in our understanding of this whole process.

Campus Safety and Security in Brief

The Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, includes the section known as the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act).  The first rendition of the current Clery Act originated in 1990.  But, after a couple of amendments to the HEA in 1992 and 1998, the Clery Act was given the full name referenced above.  As this full name of that section of the HEA gives indication, schools are required to have policies and procedures in place that would be conducive to a safe and secure campus environment.  Along with that, schools are compelled to monitor instances of certain crimes and maintain and disclose such information to ED, as well as to students, employees, and prospective students and employees.  Historically, statistical data was the primary focus of the required reporting of information to remain in compliance.  However, with the passage of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), schools were required to begin also sharing their policies and procedures related to certain components of campus security and safety efforts.  Then, last year’s Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (Pub. Law 113-4), also known as VAWA, expanded the required list of crimes for which statistics are to be provided.  It also increased the list of policies to be reported that the school has implemented to assist with prevention of certain crimes.  (See the FAME Regulatory Bulletin from March 11, 2014, for more details about VAWA 2013.)

Required Campus Safety and Security Survey

crimeAs part of the Clery Act, schools are required to report to ED annually on the number and nature of crimes applicable to their school.  (For schools with campus housing, data on instances of fires on campus is also required.)  This annual reporting is accomplished through the Campus Safety and Security Survey (CSSS).  The actual survey site ED has established for accomplishing this requirement is at https://surveys.ope.ed.gov/security.

The CSSS has a specific time frame each year in which a school may report its data.  That window of time for this year is from August 20, 2014, through October 15, 2014.  Schools must report the data for the last calendar year preceding the year of reporting.  That is, for the data being reported this year, schools will be submitting data for the calendar year of 2013.  It should be observed, however, that data from the two years prior to last year (i.e., the calendar years of 2012 and 2011) also will be displayed on the survey screens.  This is to allow opportunity for the school to review the data and make corrections if necessary.

Generally speaking, much of the data submitted through the CSSS survey process is the data that is used to compile the school’s annual campus security and fire safety reports, as applicable.  Since this is the case, the reports generated as a result of completing the CSSS are more commonly referred to by ED as simply the annual security report (ASR).  However, it is noteworthy to understand the slight difference in what is reported in a school’s ASR this year versus what will be submitted through the CSSS this year.

Annual Security Report and Campus Safety & Security Survey Changes This Year

The main changes required in the ASR this year are related to the passage of VAWA 2013.  VAWA’s reauthorization requires schools to compile data on new categories of crimes and include certain policies and procedures.  Specifically, these include reporting incidents confidentialof:

  • domestic violence
  • dating violence
  • sexual assault, and
  • stalking

Additionally, schools are to include their policies, procedures, and programs that are pertinent to these new crime categories and the incidents of such that are being reported.

Although the VAWA legislative reauthorization took place last year, the negotiated rulemaking process is still in its final stages.  The deadline for submitting responses to the March 25, 2014, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on VAWA was May 27, 2014.  Since the final regulations resulting from the NPRM and public comment will not be released, potentially, until the end of October, it is not likely schools will know by October 15, 2014, any new specific regulations promulgated regarding VAWA that will impact the ASR or CSSS.

Therefore, in the meantime, for this year’s completion of the CSSS, schools are to make a good-faith effort to comply with the underlying VAWA statutory language.  This means that schools should make a good-faith effort to compile the 2013 statistics for the above referenced crime categories and include them in the ASR the school publishes and distributes to its students and employees (as well as prospective students and employees) by October 1, 2014.  The school’s policies, procedures, and programs related to these new categories of crimes and crime awareness and prevention must also be included in this year’s ASR.

campus securtiyDue to the regulatory process on these matters being yet unfinished, ED is not able to update its CSSS survey site to include a response opportunity for these new legislated categories.  Therefore, for this one year only, ED has specified that the CSSS will not collect the newly legislated crime categories and policies related to them.  Instead, when schools report their crime statistics in 2015, the schools will have to report the applicable data for both 2013 and 2014.  Thus, schools should ensure that they retain the data used to publish their October 1, 2014, ASR to document what was used in the ASR, as well as to review for affirmation or any necessary corrections next year when reporting during the CSSS 2015 data collection period.  Again, the ASR being produced this year should demonstrate a good-faith effort at including the 2013 data for the new crime categories and policies related to crime awareness and prevention, even though the CSSS will not be able to collect the 2013 data this year.

Other Important Considerations about the ASR and Campus Safety & Security Survey

ED has specified that schools should ensure that they have logged in and registered immediately after the CSSS survey site opened for this year’s data collection on August 20, 2014.  This was to document to ED that you have received the Campus Safety Survey Administrator’s (CSSA) ID and password for accessing the CSSS site.  The ID and password are new and unique to each year.  ED sent the ID and password with the Registration Certificate to the last CSSA on record for your school as well as to the Chief Executive Officer of the school.  This information was submitted to each of these individuals by unique letters, dated July 2014, addressed to them by their title of Chief Executive Officer or CSSA, as applicable.

Several resources are available to schools for assistance in understanding the CSSS and ASR processes, as well as the changes resulting from VAWA.  Some of these are listed here with hyperlink capability:

As you have read through this edition of the Regulatory Bulletin, we trust that you have become more safe and secure in your confidence level for these reporting requirements.  The Campus Safety and Security Survey, along with the Annual Security Report, have become almost as fundamental to an institution’s needs as safety and security are to humans in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Much success to you in compliance reporting!

(GEN1413; EA 08012014; VAWA 2013)

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