Legal Aspects of the Clery Act: Study Abroad, Clery Geography, and Campus Safety Reports

4 min read

Garrett Kirk ’24

News Editor

The Tripod returns for part two of its investigation into Trinity’s disclosure of study away crimes in relation to the Clery Act.

The Clery Center describes the Clery Act as mandating “colleges and universities that receive federal funding to disseminate a public annual security report (ASR) to employees and students every Oct. 1. This ASR must include statistics of campus crime for the preceding 3 calendar years, plus details about efforts taken to improve campus safety.”

This means that “ASRs must also include policy statements regarding (but not limited to) crime reporting, campus facility security and access, law enforcement authority, incidence of alcohol and drug use, and the prevention of/response to sexual assault, domestic or dating violence, and stalking.”

Questions remain about the scope of this act and its subsequent application in the divulgence of the experiences shared by Trinity students while studying abroad. The Tripod reported on the mugging of three Trinity students in Barcelona back in 2018, however, this incident does not appear in the College’s most recent Annual Campus Safety Report, with no reported incidents apart from two separate reported study abroad incidents in 2019.

This discrepancy seems to be attributed to the legal minutiae that serve as the requirement for submitting this information.

In the Summary of Major Provisions of the Department of Education’s Title IX Final Rule, it was stated that “[a] school may address sexual harassment affecting its students or employees that falls outside Title IX’s jurisdiction in any manner the school chooses, including providing supportive measures or pursuing discipline,” although they are not legally obligated to unless the offense in a location meets specific requirements for falling inside the geography of the Clery Act.

Director of Campus Safety Brian Heavren, in speaking with the Tripod last March, noted that “[c]rimes, in Hartford and abroad, are included in the Annual Security Report if they are Clery Crimes and if they occur within the defined Clery geography.” Heavren continued that “[t]he college’s Annual Security Report will include crimes that meet the Clery definitions and geography. In this case, there was a Clery reportable crime but it did not occur in the Clery geography.”

The geography of the Clery Act thus clarifies why and how previous study abroad crimes and misconduct have or have not been reported in the College’s most recent Annual Campus Safety Report. 

According to the Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting by the U.S. Department of Education, “[y]ou must disclose statistics for reported Clery Act crimes that occur (1) on campus, (2) on public property within or immediately adjacent to the campus, and (3) in or on noncampus buildings or property that your institution owns or controls.”  

This means that “crimes that don’t occur within your Clery Act geography are not included in your Clery Act statistics, even if your students or employees are involved.”

The 2018 incident in Barcelona thus seems to not fall under any of the three aforementioned geographical stipulations for reporting, meaning that the College is not mandated to mention the incidents on the Annual Campus Safety Report, despite the fact that these crimes occured in the context  and during the process of study abroad programs sponsored by the College.

According to Heavren  in March, it’s important to keep in mind that “[t]he Annual Security Report is only one mechanism to evaluate safety at Trinity and abroad. Information is also available through the campus crime log, as well as, from departments sponsoring programs domestically and internationally.” It was not immedietly clear how reliable or accessible  these resources from other institutions were for students who were considering opportunities to study abroad. 


Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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