The Clery Act needs amending

AJ Edwards

Every year, universities publish a safety report under the Clery Act.

Issuing these reports is a great idea; however, there needs to be some adjustments made in order to be more accurate and effective at giving future and current students safety information.

The safety report gives an account for crimes committed on university properties, adjacent campuses (like the Naperville campus) and affiliated areas, like Greek Row, over the preceding three years. This document also contains information on how to report crimes on campus.

I am using NIU as an example in this column, but this is directed toward the Clery Act in general.

I believe NIU needs to offer a link on its homepage that leads to the safety report issued in compliance with the Clery Act. In order for me to find NIU’s safety report, I had to type in the search engine “campus safety report.”

When asked if she looked at the campus safety report when considering attending NIU, senior management major Lesley Castro said, “No, I did not. I did not know that there was a campus report.”

In fact, I asked 25 random students at NIU if they’d even heard of the campus safety report, and only one said yes. NIU needs to ensure it alerts students to the existence of a campus safety report.

Another issue I have with NIU’s campus safety report is how narrow its range is. In 2010, freshman Toni Keller was murdered in Prairie Park, and yet if you look at the 2012 safety report, there are no murders reported. The school should expand the areas it covers in their report. If you consider the fact that large amounts of the student population live within a mile of campus, why shouldn’t the report’s range be expanded to a mile? While the DeKalb report covers off-campus areas, there needs to be one concise document that explains both areas–university grounds and around it–for the safety of the students.

When asked if safety reports made her feel safer, senior English major Stephanie Alesia said, “Not really knowing that what happens right off campus is not included.”

I don’t want to seem like I think NIU is absolutely horrible at reporting crimes and keeping students alert. The text message and email alerts (if students actually receive them, which sometimes I have not) are great at helping students remain aware of criminal activity.

I think the Clery Act is a wonderful tool for a university to use in order to show how safe the campus is. However, I believe the act should be amended in order to give future and current students a more complete report on not only campus safety, but the safety of the surrounding areas. At NIU, students who live off campus generally are within walking distance to the university, and they deserve to be fully informed on any past criminal activities that occurred not just at school, but in the neighborhoods in which they live.