2021 Clery Report shows lower campus crime during remote semesters

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Occidental College released the 2021 Annual Fire Safety and Security Report (AFSSR), also known as the Clery Report, in a campus-wide email Oct. 1. The 2021 Clery Report covers specific crimes spanning from January to December 2020. The Clery Act was enacted in 1990 after the rape and murder of Jeanne Clery in her college dorm at Lehigh University in 1986. Under the act, US colleges and universities must report crime statistics every year or risk losing federal funding.

Crimes included in the Clery Report fall under two qualifications. First, the crime must be specified under the Clery Act, which includes homicide, sexual assault, burglary, larceny, domestic and dating violence and weapons violations. Second, the crime must occur within specified boundaries on or around campus which include on-campus buildings and housing or property owned by the college. The report also details campus safety, security and emergency response policies and procedures.

The college reported 11 crimes in 2020, including one on-campus rape, one robbery, five burglaries, two motor vehicle thefts, one incident of stalking and one arrest for liquor law violation. In addition, it reported 11 drug abuse violations and eight liquor law violations.

In comparison, 17 crimes were reported during 2019, as well as 92 drug abuse violations and 98 liquor law violations. According to Director of Campus Safety Rick Tanksley, the crime numbers reported in the 2021 Clery Report were lower than in previous years because very few students were on campus in 2020 during the pandemic.

The Clery Report is compiled from January to December by Campus Safety, Title IX and Project SAFE, and is published Oct. 1 the following year. According to Director of Communications and Community Relations Jim Tranquada, Clery Reports provide the college with useful information about crime trends across different years, though The Clery Act does not require colleges and universities to take any further action beyond filing the report.

According to Tanksley, Campus Safety also keeps a daily crime log for students and faculty to keep track of crime on campus throughout the year. The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities to have a public daily crime log. It is not necessary for these reported incidents to meet the standard for a Clery-reported crime. For example, an assault on York Boulevard would be reported on the crime log, but would not necessarily meet the Clery standard.

Certain crimes are included in the Clery Report even if the individuals involved are not students. The one robbery reported in the 2021 report did not involve students from Occidental, Tanksley said, but was within the area that the Clery Report covers.

In addition to the number of crimes on campus throughout the year, the report also includes Occidental’s safety policies. This includes sexual assault prevention training for first years, as well as the Empowerment-Based Violence Prevention Workshop that Project SAFE provides for Greek organizations and sports teams every academic year.

According to Tirzah Blanche, Project SAFE program manager and survivor advocate, some organizations and programs may not appear to have completed the mandatory training. This, they said, may be due to cancelled trainings at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic or because the Clery Report covers a calendar year and campus training is required for every academic year.

“The list that’s in the AFSSR sometimes isn’t reflective of whether or not someone got a training,” Blanche said.

According to Title IX Coordinator Alexandra Fulcher, the Title IX Office also releases its own report titled Summary of Reports and Complaints. The initial assessment of any incident is conducted by the Title IX Coordinator, and it is up to their discretion whether to report the incidents to Campus Safety. The Title IX report covers a broader scope of incidents than the Clery Report, as well as crimes that do not occur on or near campus, according to Fulcher. In addition, the Title IX report is per academic year, instead of per calendar year, so a direct comparison of the data between the two reports is difficult, according to Tranquada.

The Title IX report includes 38 reports filed between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. Within the 38 reports, there are 50 allegations of inappropriate or prohibited conduct, including 21 incidents of sexual assault, seven incidents of sexual harassment and five stalking incidents.

In 2017, the college was fined $83,000 after a Department of Education investigation into Occidental’s compliance with the Clery Act found that the college was failing to disclose crime statistics, to issue timely warnings on potential threats to campus and keep up the Daily Crime Log. According to Tranquada, the college was both over and underreporting crimes between 2009–2013. The college corrected the inaccurate numbers from the 2009–2013 reports, according to Tranquada, and has been officially in compliance with the Clery Act since 2017.