January 11, 2017
Clery Center Statement on the SAFE Campus Act
The Clery Center believes that the proposed SAFE Campus Act (“SAFE”) legislation will be harmful to campus survivors of sexual assault and ultimately result in less reporting of an already vastly underreported crime (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2014).
Supporters of SAFE argue that the legislation establishes a more equitable process by mandating the reporting of sexual assault to law enforcement before a campus can act. If implemented, SAFE will hinder campus reports of sexual assault by mandating a system that removes power from survivors. This is especially disappointing during a time when as a nation we are making unprecedented progress towards increased awareness of sexual assault on campus.
We have two federal laws – Title IX and the Clery Act – that already require a fair and equitable process on campus. The SAFE legislation fails to acknowledge that the court and campus adjudication processes have different goals. Under SAFE, unless a student files a police report the campus cannot provide or offer accommodations (such as request for a change of living situation or academic classroom) to the complainant or the respondent.
We oppose lawmakers limiting options for survivors and defining what justice “should” look like. For some survivors, pursuing the law enforcement process may feel like justice; for other survivors, justice is walking into a classroom and not having to sit next to their rapists. Both of these options (and more) are offered under the Clery Act and Title IX in a manner that recognizes that everyone has different reactions to trauma.
The Clery Center opposes other additional provisions of the SAFE Campus Act – including redefining who can or cannot be a campus security authority under the Clery Act and specific mandates on how long institutions can suspend student organizations – but none of these trump our primary concern that a piece of legislation in 2015 dictates a singular response to the complex issue of reporting campus sexual assault. Since the Clery Center’s inception in 1987, we’ve seen vast change culminating in a world where survivors can come forward on their own terms. Support survivors’ option to report to law enforcement – don’t require it.