UC Berkeley reaches settlement to pay $2.35M fine for Clery Act violations

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Sunny Shen/Senior Staff
The U.S. Department of Education completed its review of UC Berkeley’s compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. The review involved an assessment of campus crime statistics, policies and procedures regarding campus safety and crime prevention in place from 2009-2016.

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UC Berkeley will pay the U.S. Department of Education, or ED, a $2.35 million fine and will be monitored for two years for violating the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or Clery Act, according to a settlement agreement that was reached Sept. 9.

The Clery Act requires all postsecondary institutions participating in federal financial aid programs to disclose campus crime statistics. Although UC Berkeley had implemented some improvements in years prior, the ED’s Final Program Review Determination, issued Sept. 17, 2019, identified some violations of the act.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ sent out a campuswide email Thursday to announce that the ED had reviewed campus statistics, policies and procedures that were in place from 2009 to 2016.

“The Clery Act is based on the premise that current and prospective students and employees are entitled to accurate, complete, and transparent disclosures about campus crime and threats to their personal safety, allowing them to make well-informed decisions about where to study, work, and live,” said campus’s Compliance Response webpage.

According to Christ’s email, the ED found that out of approximately 32,000 examined records from a five-year period, 1,125 incidents were misclassified. Of those, about 87% involved the misclassification of disciplinary referrals for liquor, drug and weapons violations.

“Many of the violations were for technical errors,” said campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore in an email. “Compliance with Clery requirements is highly technical and differs from other types of crime reporting conducted by law enforcement agencies and others.”

Christ’s email added that the ED’s audit found other issues as well, including problems with UC Berkeley’s disclosure of various crime statistics and failure to issue the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report each year under the required standards.

Campus also failed to follow sexual violence and sexual harassment policies by not issuing emergency notifications in a 2013 case, according to the campus Clery fact sheet.

Gilmore said in the email that campus has implemented changes to its Clery Act compliance since 2014 by training Campus Security Authorities, who, according to the ED’s handbook, are individuals responsible for reporting allegations of Clery Act crimes disclosed to them. Campus has also conducted audits of police reports, updated records management systems and purchased new emergency alert systems, according to the fact sheet.

Campus has also established a committee composed of administrators and appointed a new Campus Clery Coordinator, Abigail Ogden, to support Clery Act compliance.

“These matters occurred years ago — 2009-2016 — and we have improved our systems and policies since then and will continue to do so,” Gilmore said in the email. “We will continue to invest in resources and training to ensure the University can accurately prevent, respond to and report crimes, and issue timely warnings and emergency notifications when appropriate.”

Contact Catherine Hsu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @catherinehsuDC.