Public Safety Withholds 2015 Clery Act Incident Reports

Author: Claire Rhode

Public Safety releases a yearly report of crimes on campus called the Clery Act report. The 2015 report, released October of 2016, only reported 15 crimes on campus. Of those, eight were drug related and seven were alcohol related. None occurred in residence halls.

The report takes incident and crime reports from Public Safety and reports of drug or alcohol use from Student Affairs from the last three years and compiles them into one document that is then made available to students and the public. This is due to the federal Clery Act, which monitors crime reports on campus so that incoming students will have an understanding of how many crimes are committed on campus.

“We try to report as accurately as we can what happens here on campus,” Chief Donald Aubrecht said.

Aubrecht explained that many students on campus are uneasy with the low reported sexual assault statistics. He believes that many students tell their friends about sexual assaults, as well as other crimes, before they tell him. “If they don’t make a police report I can’t add it to my statistics,” he said. “I’m sure there are ladies on this campus who have had bad dates.”

Public Safety also does not always write incident reports. When Eddy Theater was hotboxed in January of 2017, there was no incident report. As Sergeant James Madison said at the time, that was because there was no victim. “If there’s no victim, there’s no crime,” he said. When asked, he elaborated that the victim of a crime involving drugs or alcohol would be the person using them. In most incident reports involving drugs or alcohol, Resident Assistants or other students have contacted Public Safety to complain about the smell.

The Communique asked for incident reports for the year of 2015 in November of 2016, which would allow the newspaper to independently verify that there are no crimes that went unreported on the Clery Act Report. The Clery Act allows any interested parties to view the public logbooks. If the records are from a previous year, Public Safety has two days to produce them. As of April 2017, these records have not been viewed by any member of the Communique.

As Dean of Students, Zauyah Waite is in part responsible for providing the incident reports for alcohol and drug use that are not reported to Public Safety directly. She then sends these reports to Bill Campbell, the Vice President of Marketing and Communications to be compiled into the Clery Act. Bill Campbell is responsible for writing the text of the Clery Act, but is not involved in the compilation of the statistics. When asked, he could provide very little information about the compilation of the statistics, although Waite believed he was the final authority.

As to her own work with the Clery Act, Waite said “We [Chatham University] did make sure that we are in compliance.” However, she later said, “The only two things required to be reported to the Clery Act are alcohol and drug related violations.” She later clarified this statement, saying that she was referring to disciplinary actions, for which her department is responsible.

Other crimes that must be reported to the Clery Act include sexual assault, burglary, and dating violence. The Clery Act was enacted due to the rape and murder of a student at LeHigh University in 1986, and is closely connected to Title IX.

The most famous violation of the Clery Act was tied to sexual assault. Penn State University was fined $2.4 million for failing to follow the act properly. This was uncovered in the course of the Jerry Sandusky case, who was convicted of child molestation and rape.

Waite also explained that incident reports do not make it to the Clery Act report, saying, “If the situation is referred and investigated, it’s not a crime.” 

She is also mistaken about this. All crimes reported, whether they are followed up on or not, must be on the Clery Act report. Reports deemed unsubstantiated by an outside police force, in our case the Pittsburgh Police, must still be reported on the Clery Act Report, although it can be noted within the report that they are unsubstantiated. No reported crimes that fall under the purview of the Clery Act may be left off of the Clery Act, even if school administrators do not believe the report has merit or if the victim later recants. Waite later amended her quote with further information on this subject, although she was still mistaken about the idea that the DA, or District Attorney, has the power to say a case is unsubstantiated, just as Aubrecht is.

No sexual assaults or related crimes were reported on the 2015 report. “If the DA and Pittsburgh Police say it wasn’t a rape, then I don’t report it as rape,” Aubrecht said. “I try to use common sense, too.”  However, Chatham’s Public Safety cannot deem a report unsubstantiated or unimportant, and they must report all crimes that occur on campus.

It is impossible for the Communique to know if there are crimes that have not been reported, as we are unable to access the 2015 records, or the records from earlier years. Until Public Safety provides those records, which they are legally obligated to do, it will remain on the record that Chatham has only had fifteen crimes occur in 2015, none of which ended in arrests.

2 thoughts on “Public Safety Withholds 2015 Clery Act Incident Reports

  1. Did a Chatham official just suggest that a date upon which sexual assault occurred could be called a “bad date”? Even more disturbing is the fact that said official is responsible for reporting all campus crimes.

  2. Back in 2015 when the Communique was published on paper a reporter came to the Police office weekly and read each and every report. The findings were published in the Communique, so it appears that the staff of the Communique needs to review the history of their own paper, to find out that no stats were withheld but were in fact published in the paper back in 2015. And if a crime is not reported to the police how can we except the police to investigate and report it. The campus police for the past 5 years have held Crime Prevention classes and brought in outside law enforcement speakers/instructors but not once did any students or anyone from the Communique ever attend any of these classes.

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