Clery Act Updates Bring Stark Transparency, Big Training Challenges

Clery Act Updates Bring Training Challenges

Posted on 6 October 2015 |


The number of violence and sex-based crime reports are increasing across college campuses—and that’s a good thing.

Okay, in the wrong context it sounds outrageous. But we’re not talking about crimes themselves.  Instead we’re talking about the latest reporting nuances required by the VAWA SaVE Act provision (Section 304) to the Clery Act.

As you are probably already well aware, each instance of reported domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual assault incidents must now be disclosed annually and can’t be lumped into an “aggravated assault” category. This delineation of assaults is helpful because it will enable campus administrators to target relationship training better and more thoroughly.

But the more detailed reporting is only the beginning of a complex host of new requirements that schools now must consider how to address. Clery Act compliance training has become particularly daunting, especially for large campuses. How do you efficiently set proper expectations with and provide adequate training to administrators, faculty and staff? And how can you meet programming requirements for new students? Before we explore key considerations for training success, let’s quickly revisit the scope of what needs to be addressed.

Confusion ahead? Keeping up with the far-reaching changes

Given the significant potential impacts of noncompliance—there is a lot on the line when it comes to administrator, faculty, staff and student employees’ knowledge of the latest Clery Act provisions. And the sweeping requirements in the Clery Act create a high potential for confusion. Especially when you consider the latest changes in light of existing institutional policies and other past government pronouncements.

Reporting requirements –The VAWA SaVE Act provision specifies that annual security reports must now include statistics for any incidents of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking that are reported to campus security authorities or local police agencies. These are in addition to any forcible and non-forcible sex offences and aggravated assault statistics already required by the Clery Act. National origin and gender identity are also now included as hate crime categories under the provision.1

Discipline requirements – With the addition of the new reporting categories, there are also new investigation and conduct standards for proceedings related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking cases that people need to be aware of.2

Education requirements – VAWA now requires that institutions offer new students and new employees sexual violence awareness and prevention programs aimed at “stopping these crimes [sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking] before they occur.”3 According to the new requirements, these prevention programs must include:

  • A statement that the institution prohibits those offenses.
  • The definition of those offenses in the applicable jurisdiction.
  • The definition of consent, with reference to sexual offenses, in the applicable jurisdiction.
  • “Safe and positive” options for bystander intervention an individual may take to “prevent harm or intervene” in risky situations.
  • Recognition of signs of abusive behavior and how to avoid potential attacks.
  • Ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns for students and faculty on all of the above.4

 Getting your campus up to speed: 3 keys to Clery Act training success

One of the most difficult aspects of complying with Clery Act requirements is that it involves raising awareness levels across your entire campus community. That means practically all levels of staff—from the Title IX coordinator to professors and teaching assistants all the way down to resident advisors—need a working knowledge of the requirements, including everything from how to recognize potential crimes to specific incident-related procedures. And the requirement for student education only compounds the training challenges. So how do you even begin finding a good solution?

Of course, cost and logistics are going to be important considerations as you explore Clery Act training options. To achieve compliance and make real progress against sexual violence, however, the following three considerations are also critical.

1) Customization —Clery Act training is complicated because different roles need different levels of information and one-size-fits all approaches won’t work without some level supplemental training. That’s why it’s important that the courses you choose can be customized for relevancy to multiple roles, which leads nicely to the next point.

2) Buy in—For any kind of training program to work, it needs to be engaging and not just provide rules and general information that’s not relatable to your specific audience. That’s why it’s well worth some added time up front to make sure that your different audiences are going to appreciate the information they’re getting and be able to apply it outside of the learning environment.  

3) Promotion—With everything else people have going on, compliance training is probably not going to be a priority. That’s why it’s important to clearly and regularly communicate with faculty and staff about what to expect and their responsibilities for completing courses. Student engagement can also be increased with a campus-wide marketing campaign that raises awareness of the program and keeps it top of mind.  

As new Clery Act requirements shed light on the enduring sexual violence problem that is all too common across U.S. campuses, increasing awareness of the incidents will no doubt spark dialog and soul searching. And ongoing education and training will be critical to turning the tide on violence and making campuses safer for everyone.



1, 2New Requirements Imposed by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, American Council on Education, April 1 2014.
3VAWA Amendments to Clery, Clery Center for Security on Campus.
4New Requirements Imposed by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.


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