JACOB JORDAN ’16
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or simply the Clery Act, was put into place in 1990 after the rape and murder of 19-year old Lehigh University student Jeanne Clery. The Clery Act requires all colleges that participate in federal financial aid programs to supply timely warnings to students and publish an annual safety report. Under the Clery Act, the annual safety report must report all crimes and offenses that occurred by type of crime or offense and by the general location where the crime or offense occurred. The general location categories are: on-campus, non-campus, and public property. The Clery Act also requires colleges to separately report crimes and offenses that occurred in residential housing as a subset of the on-campus category.
All of the NESCAC colleges published their 2014 Annual Safety Reports on October 1, 2015 as required by law. These reports are publicly available on each college’s website. The total number of crimes and offenses can be broken down into four major categories: Forcible sexual assaults; alcohol arrests & violations; drug arrests & violations; and other crimes, which include aggravated assault, burglary, auto theft, and robbery (none of the colleges reported any murders or deaths by manslaughter).
Despite the belief in some circles that Trinity is a party school, the Clery numbers do not support that conclusion. Trinity is a distant number four in terms of alcohol arrests and violations. Trinity is also often regarded as unsafe because it is the only NESCAC school in a high-crime neighborhood, yet it is only number three in the total number of other crimes reported.
A closer look at the reported data reveals some interesting information. For example, Middlebury reported an incredibly low nine drug arrests and violations in 2014, and only one in 2013. However, Middlebury footnoted its 2014 Safety Report to indicate that Vermont decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2013. In 2012, before this law was passed, Middlebury reported 52 drug arrests and violations. Possession of marijuana in Connecticut is still a crime, which may help to contribute to the number of drug arrests that Trinity has to report, crimes that Middlebury can handle differently – to the benefit of their crime numbers.
Trinity’s numbers are similarly revealing. Trinity’s fraternities and sororities are widely believed to be the source of many of Trinity’s assault, alcohol, drug, and other problems. Trinity’s reported Clery data does not support that conclusion.
Almost all of Trinity’s fraternities and sororities fall into the non-campus reporting category. The Clery Act defines non-campus as “any building or property owned or controlled by as student organization that is officially recognized by the institution.” The US Department of Education’s Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting explains the non-campus category in greater detail, writing: “if it is owned or controlled by the student organization, it’s considered non-campus under Clery. There is one exception to this rule. If a fraternity or sorority house is located within the confines of the campus on land that is owned by the institution, the building is considered to be “on campus” even if it is owned or controlled by the fraternity or sorority.”
Mr. Jorge Lugo, Trinity’s Campus Safety Office Assistant in charge of its Clery Reports, explained that Trinity’s Greek Life Organizations are considered off-campus since they “own or control their property. Even if they are within the confines of our campus, they are considered non-campus under Clery. For example, Psi U, which owns its property, is counted in non-campus, even though it is within the confines of campus.” Therefore, incidents and violations at Greek Houses are considered non-campus incidents.
Over the 2012-2014 reporting period, Trinity reported 772 alcohol arrests and violations, 756 of which occurred in student housing. Not a single violation was reported in the non-campus category, which is the GLO reporting category. Over this same period, Trinity reported 326 drug arrests and violations, of which 325 occurred in student housing, and only one in the non-campus category. All 5 of the weapons possession offenses were on-campus in student housing. 14 of the 19 dating violence violations occurred in student housing, with none in non-campus locations. Of the 49 forcible sex offenses, 35 were in student housing, while five of the 49 occurred in non-campus locations.
Trinity fraternities and sororities are often blamed for being hotbeds of student misconduct and blamed for promoting “rape culture.” However, the overwhelming majority of cases of student misconduct, from alcohol to drugs to weapons to dating violence to sexual assault, is committed by Trinity students in student housing, not in the GLOs. The statistics provided by Trinity in compliance with the Clery Act reveal its GLOs to be pretty safe places.
These statistics spell out a number of interesting trends among the colleges in the NESCAC, and Trinity’s place within them, as well as telling information about Trinity’s own campus. This data flies in the face of many perception about the college, and will likely spur rigorous debate among students as to its implications.
|Forcible Sex Offenses||Alcohol Arrests/Violations||Drug Arrest/Violations||Other Crimes*|
|Bowdoin||Conn College||Conn College||Trinity|
* Other crimes are aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and robbery. There were no reported cases of murder or manslaughter at any college.
** Vermont decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2013. In 2012, there were 50 drug reports.