Berkeley, California – The University of California (UC) Berkeley and U.S. Department of Education came to a settlement agreement on September 9 regarding the school’s violation of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. The university will pay a $2.35 million fine and be monitored for two years.
The Department of Education’s review lasted six years and involved an assessment of campus crime statistics, policies and procedures regarding campus safety and crime prevention in place from 2009-2016, reports Berkeley News.
Of the approximately 32,000 records that were examined, 1,125 incidents were misclassified. Nearly nine out of ten misclassified incidents were cases involving disciplinary referrals for liquor, drug and weapons violations. According to campus officials, although the cases were properly referred for disciplinary proceedings, they were only classified as policy violations rather than law violations.
UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in an email that many of the violations were for technical errors, reports The Daily Californian.
“Compliance with Clery requirements is highly technical and differs from other types of crime reporting conducted by law enforcement agencies and others,” she said.
The Education Department’s review also found issues with UC Berkeley’s crime log. The school also failed to release its Annual Security and Fire Safety Report each year.
Additionally, the campus didn’t issue an emergency notification in a 2013 sexual violence and harassment case, which violated UC Berkeley’s policies.
University officials have acknowledged that they made many administrative errors but said they have taken aggressive actions since 2014 to make improvements. Those improvements were to its technology systems, timely warning and emergency notification policies, and sexual misconduct policies and procedures. It has also added staff to support Clery Act compliance.
UC Berkeley’s settlement is just the latest in a series of large Clery Act settlements with institutions of higher education.
“The Berkeley settlement continues the U.S. Department of Education’s recent approach of going beyond merely punitive measures and working with institutions to bolster Clery Act compliance and safer campuses,” S. Daniel Carter, president of Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, wrote in an email to EducationDive.com.
Now campuses are also being required to make policy changes, not just pay fines. They are also being monitored for several years.
Carter anticipates the Department of Education will continue issuing multi-million-dollar fines to universities for Clery violations. In July, the University of North Carolina at Chapel hill was fined $1.5 million for non-compliance, and last September, Michigan State University was fined $4.5 million, the largest Clery fine ever levied.