TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Sandra Bolden Cunningham and M. Teresa Ruiz that would require the administration of public colleges and universities to regularly report on-campus criminal and fire events to their institution’s governing board was approved today by the full Senate.
An expansion of the “Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act,” or Clery Act, the legislation (S-485) would require presidents of New Jersey’s public institutions of higher education to report to their governing boards at regular meetings all crimes, fires and other emergencies which occurred on campus during the previous reporting period.
The report would have to include counts and classifications of all criminal and fire incidents which occurred on campus and were recorded by campus security and campus or local police and fire departments as well as a list of campus alerts, threats or emergencies.
“The safety of our students and employees on campuses is of utmost importance,” Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson, Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “This is why transparency at colleges and universities is essential to ensuring their safety. By requiring institutions to report incidents and crimes to the governing boards, members of the board can make informed decisions and ultimately provide more protection on their campuses.”
Colleges and universities are already required to collect and report the information to the U.S. Department of Education, but in the past have not been required to provide crime statistics, incidents or threats to their own governing bodies. The bill, S-485, serves to prevent a governing board from arguing a lack of knowledge, as what happened in the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State University, if incidents are being reported in a timely manner on their campuses.
“With colleges and universities following proper procedures when reporting crimes and incidents, board members could respond to urgent situations in a timely and efficient manner,” said Senator Ruiz, D-Essex, Chair of the Senate Education Committee. “These procedures that would require institutions to submit reported incidents on a regular basis would help guide the governing board to take necessary actions to keep students and employees safe. This bill would provide policies that would ensure that colleges and universities take a more proactive approach in responding to crimes on campus.”
The bill was approved by a vote of 34-0. It now heads to the Assembly for consideration.