STORY BY COLE NORUM
The Student Senate made clear in its most recent meeting that among its highest priorities is promoting a safe and secure environment for Drake students.
The senators welcomed Scott Law, Drake University’s director of public safety, to their weekly meeting on Oct. 2 to discuss the university’s official Clery Report and relevant issues regarding campus safety.
Law, a former state policeman, spoke at length on the various details composing the Annual Campus Security Report, a comprehensive report detailing crime statistics that occurred in 2013. The Report is a component of the Clery Act, a federal statute by which every college receiving federal aid must abide. Colleges failing to adhere to the stipulations set forth by the federal law jeopardize their ability to receive federal funding.
The Clery Act, named for a Lehigh University freshman raped and murdered in 1986, is intended to provide relevant information regarding reported criminal activity on and around college campuses.
Law said, the information made available in the report is important to prospective students as well as current students. The reports also serve as points of comparison between schools.
“We all have to meet the same criteria,” Law said.
Because the Clery Report covers the calendar year instead of the academic year, the report issued this fall is for January through December 2013. The report will be the last of its current format, due largely to President Obama’s reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, signed in March 2013.
Law discussed the significance of the VAWA reauthorization in terms of providing for more extensive reporting of crimes.
“The VAWA act will require quite a bit of new information to be gathered and included,” Law said.
In order to keep pace with a widening spectrum of reportable crimes, Drake University purchased a new software, called Report Exec, that will give Public Safety means of reporting, managing and analyzing criminal activity on or near campus.
Report Exec will keep better track of crimes regarding gender, sexual orientation and bias, according to Law.
“We were always required to gather (the information) before, but it was kind of reported in a way that would get lost in the Report,” Law said.
The Clery Report is also not immune to ambiguity or confusion regarding another aspect of reporting crime. A look through the report will yield one peculiar statistic: there were no reported instances of on-campus sexual assault. Law, along with Dean of Students Sentwali Bakari, emphasized that the statistic did not indicate any sexual assaults had occurred on campus.
“By no means do we think that is necessarily an accurate picture of what occurs, but it is what is reported,” Law began. “We can only include in our statistics those things that are reported to Drake Public Safety, the Des Moines Police Department … and campus security authorities.”
With the Clery Report shifting its format to incorporate a wider array of statistics for the 2014 year, Law assured the Senate that Public Safety’s emphasis on campus safety would continue. Law hopes this will lead to an increased emphasis on incorporating a greater and more diverse source of input.
“We have an opportunity to empower and to make victims feel that this is a safe place to come forward and talk.”