Crime at Mt. Hood Community College?
Yes, we’ve got it – and anyone can find the gritty details, thanks to the Clery Act.
For those who are unfamiliar with it, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or simply the Clery Act, is a pretty important piece of legislation. The federal law is named after Jeanne Clery, a student who was raped and murdered in her dorm in 1986 at Lehigh University, in Pennsylvania.
This was one of 38 violent crimes reported to that school over a three-year period. But since there was no compulsion to do so, the school didn’t report it, or make those statistics available to anyone. Clery’s parents argued that if they would have known the school was prone to this much violence, that Jeanne never would have attended.
This triggered a storm of litigation and law reform across the country when it came to schools and what they were required to report to students and the government, and led to creation of the Clery Act.
The Act requires colleges and universities to do four things, or they risk losing eligibility to receive financial aid money for their students.
First, all schools are required to submit an annual report by Oct. 1 of each year. The report must detail the crime statistics for the previous three years, the school’s policies on safety and security, a description of any crime-prevention programs, and the procedures that the school must follow in any investigation or prosecution of an alleged sexual offense.
(You can find Mount Hood’s most recent report here)
Second, the school must provide a crime log that lists out all crimes that were reported to them or that they became aware of, which must contain at least the last 60 days’ worth of crime information. For each incident, the school must include the nature, date, time and general location.
(Currently, MHCC has logs stretching back to 2012 on its website, here)
The third requirement requires that schools give a “timely warning” to students and staff when there is a threat to safety. There is no definition required for the school to follow that defines the expectation of timely warnings, but the school must have the guidelines they follow listed in their annual Clery report.
(MHCC has just introduced its RAVE emergency mass notification system to keep students, employees and others updated – visit mhcc.edu/rave.)
Lastly, campuses are required to keep crime history statistics for the most recent eight years. If they are not available immediately (say, via a website) they can be requested from the school and must be available for viewing within two days.
Many of you may be aware that much of the crime we’ve seen around the MHCC campus involves stolen cars. We decided to take a look at the most recent Clery Act report and found that car theft seems to be overwhelmingly the most common crime here.
The current report covers 2014-16, and we see three instances of assault and nine instances of burglary but 25 instances of motor vehicle theft, and this is not a trend that’s slowing down.
While schools must provide this information, as students we should be taking advantage of these statistics so we know where to be the most vigilant. Obviously we have a car theft problem here at MHCC, so we need to do all we can to focus on preventing these incidents. We also see instances of stalking, drug/alcohol abuse, and arson, other areas we need to be aware of.
Thankfully, one thing the report does show is we go to a safe school with the report showing of the 11 criminal offenses they report on, only 4 had incidents reported, and of those 4, only motor vehicle theft had more than 5 instances in a whole year.
Since car theft seems to be our biggest trouble, we think we should be aggressive in doing something. The Advocate challenges students, staff, faculty and student government to do something to help with this problem, whether that’s increasing funding for Public Safety, student watch groups, better communication with outside law enforcement agencies, or simply students taking better steps and measures to keep their cars safe.
We live in an era of information. We have access to knowledge about pretty much everything at our fingertips, 24 hours a day, and we need to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.
We can do more for ourselves, we can keep ourselves and our property safe, and it’s part of our responsibility as adults to take those steps that are needed to keep our community safe from crime, to help Public Safety combat crime when and where it can, and to help our fellow students from having their property stolen or damaged.