House passes bill to require disclosure of sex offenders on campus

Tuesday, June 20, 2000

Campus safety and press advocates cheered the U.S. House passage of a bill that would require colleges and universities to disclose information about registered sex offenders working or studying on their campuses.

Daniel Carter, vice president of Security on Campus, says the measure would ensure that students have access to the same type of information about their community as is available to citizens in the general community.

“It’s one more step in making sure safety information is available to students and their parents,” he said.

House members voted unanimously on June 12 to approve H.R. 4504, an amendment to the Higher Education Act that included provisions for schools to publish policies regarding missing students, disclose information about sex offenders and improve the reporting of fire-safety information.

The bill has been reported to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

If the bill becomes law, Carter says, colleges and universities will be required to release the sex offender registries they receive from the state. University officials, however, will not have to develop their own registries.

The measure also would require campuses to disclose information about their fire-safety equipment, regulations and track record. Such statistics would include the number of false alarms, deaths, injuries and damages due to fires.

Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, says the measure “is yet another area where the campus press and others can help get information to make their lives safer.”

Phillip Taylor, a reporter for the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., is a free-lance correspondent for the First Amendment Center.