How Connie and Howard Clery Honor their Daughter's Memory
Jeanne Ann Clery, if you're unfamiliar, was a freshman at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA in 1986. An accomplished tennis player and a diligent student, she was asleep in her dorm room when she was savagely attacked and murdered, by another student, who walked into her living quarters with a broken bottle.
Jeanne's parents not only won a negligence lawsuit against Lehigh, they also championed landmark legislation that became known as the "Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act." As the name implies, the act requires postsecondary institutions, that receive federal aid, to disclose and disseminate pertinent public safety information.
Since leaving home and living at a brick and mortar college is still viewed as a stepping stone to a promising future by millions of Americans, the Clery family, who have truly suffered, are to be commended for turning their nightmare into a valuable act of public service.
But a couple of caveats are warranted.
First, some higher ed. institutions are notorious for not complying with the Clery Act and issuing appropriate warnings.
Second, even when the campus publishes crime stats, digging is still required.
For example, the relatively peaceful religious college Wid III attends, reported two sex offenses in 2005. The "rest of the story" is that the perp was a student/security guard employed by the school. He exposed himself, in a public restroom, to a pair of young ladies who were attending a conference at the school. (He attempted to assault another woman, recently, in another city.)
Colleges aren't war zones but they have never been crime-free secular monasteries, either. I attended Florida State when the club-wielding Ted Bundy killed several sorority girls and forever disrupted the lives of their families, and threw all of Tallahassee into a panic. And that was over twenty-five years ago! Unfortunately, whether it's Mega State U or Cozy Liberal Arts College, non-street smart, vulnerable students and faculty remain an easy target for the lawless. Wariness, if you can't pack heat or haven't mastered Krav Maga, might save your life.
FYI: U.S. News and World Report devoted a cover story to the topic of campus security.