Campus-crime victims seek stronger disclosure

Thursday, March 5, 1998

Parents of college students killed on campus and a student nearly blinded in an unprovoked assault were to testify before a U.S. Senate subcommittee today on the need for stronger reporting of campus-crime statistics.

A subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee plans to discuss a House bill, the Accuracy in Campus Crime Reporting Act. The bill, introduced last month, would revise campus-security reporting provisions “to provide for a more complete, timely, and accurate disclosure of crime reports and statistics.”

“The aim of these much-needed reforms is to make college campuses safer and to make parents and students alike more aware of the number and types of crimes being committed on campuses nationwide,” said Robert Tappen, spokesman for Security on Campus Inc., a leading proponent for open campus security records.

Those scheduled to testify include:

  • Howard Clery, co-founder of Security on Campus and father of Jeanne Clery, who was murdered at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., in 1986.
  • Barbara Prentice, mother of Adam Prentice, who was murdered last year at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • Jacob McKee, a student who was nearly blinded last year at Lehigh after leaving a fraternity house and being assaulted for no apparent reason by a drunken student.

Tappan said the witnesses plan to ask the Senate to add language to the House bill requiring colleges and universities to report crime statistics according to Uniform Crime Recording standards, the same code used by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Meanwhile, proponents for open crime records face a court battle in Ohio with two universities there and the U.S. Education Department. Last month, a federal judge overturned an Ohio Supreme Court decision granting requests from two newspapers to access disciplinary records at Miami University and Ohio State University.

The federal district court Judge George C. Smith in U.S. v. Miami University ruled that the release of student disciplinary records would violate the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. That act protects student crime and disciplinary records from public disclosure.