Crime in the Shadows: Information Every Student Should Know

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Jeanne Anne Clery was raped, tortured and murdered in her dorm on April 5, 1986.

All Bloomsburg students and faculty, new and old should be accustomed to the familiar text, email or flyer of a Jeanne Clery Act Notification. You hear the buzz of your phone at four in the morning, the bing of your email or run into the person in front of you,  as they stop to read to the flyer on the door to an academic building. Yes, Jeanne Clery Act notifications are hard to miss, and for a good reason.

The Crime Awareness and Campus Safety Act was renamed in 1990 in memory of Jeanne Anne Clery. Clery was a 18-year-old college student attending Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. In the early hours of April 5, 1986 Clery was tortured, raped and killed by a random alcohol and drug abuser, who gained entry to her dorm by three unlocked and opened doors. Clery and other students of the time were unaware of the other 38 similar violent crimes that happened on the campus three years prior. Since then, the Clery Act and other laws were instated to prevent these crimes and make students aware of any possible dangers in the campus and surrounding area.

Despite the fact that mass notifications are sent out for crimes such as rape, aggravated assault, robbery etc. more crimes have happened on the Bloomsburg University campus than students may know. In addition to the campus being notified in the event of a significant emergency or hazardous situation, the Clery Act states that a daily crime log is to be kept for public viewing upon request. According to the Bloomsburg University Campus police crime log,  there have been three assaults, four aggravated assaults, and two indecent assaults since Jan. of 2011 that students were not sent notifications of. Thefts of auto parts in the Blue Lot around the time in Feb. of 2011, and five burglaries in various campus buildings and parking lots, also have taken place. A sex offense occurred at Monty’s on Oct. 11, of 2011. Two rapes occurred in Columbia hall, one reported on March 28, 2011, and one on Jan. 1st 2012. The most recent unnotified crime was a rape reported on Sept. 30, 2012 at the Nelson Field House.

At 3:43 a.m. on Sunday March 25, 2012 Bloomsburg University issued a campus alert stating a female student was sexually assaulted in Northumberland Hall. So, why were we notified about this rape and not others? The Jeanne Clery act states that when the college or university community are notified of crimes they must,

” -immediately notify the campus community upon the confirmation

of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an

immediate threat to the health or safety of students or staff

occurring on campus.”

“So basically speaking if crime occurs on campus and the perpetrator is caught. It is no longer an immediate threat to the community. The campus police is not obligated to send out notifications,” said a representative for the Clery Center for Security on Campus.

In a interview with the Assistant Director of the Bloomsburg University Campus Police, Joe Wondoloski, ” One of the misunderstandings in a timely warning, it has to be an ongoing threat to the community. If we make an arrest and it’s not an ongoing threat, we don’t issue a timely warning. If it’s not one of the Clery crimes- the three general classifications of Clery crimes- we don’t have to. The key thing is it has to be an imminent threat to the community.”

Emergency call box provide contact to campus police in the event of a hazardous or dangerous situation.

Crime on campus can be a deciding factor for many potential students and a concern for current students. The Clery Acts states that any  colleges or universities that receives federal funding must publish an Annual Security Report (ASR).  The ASR, which can be found in the Safety on Campus Guide on the Bloomsburg University website, discloses select crime statistics for the past three years, along with definitions on the specifics of crimes, and other safety reports.

According to the Bloomsburg University ASR, there were no hate crimes reported from 2009 to 2011, which the Clery Act dictates must also be disclosed.  There was six forcible sex offenses, ten aggravated assaults, 19 burglaries and two motor vehicle thefts, all of which are Clery Act crimes. “Not everyone does get a disclosure and one of the problems or issues if you were to do that for everyone those every time we had a stolen book bag or a misplaced something we would be giving these warnings out. What would students reactions be after hundreds of them, they wouldn’t even pay attention,” said Wondoloski. The ASR also states tips on how to stay safe on campus so these statistics do not rise and new victim made.  Some of the tips include:

  • Do not prop open outside building doors. They are locked for your protection.
  • Always lock your car doors, even when driving.
  • Don’t walk alone at night unless absolutely necessary. Escort service is available, call  570-389-5000
  • Walk where there is plenty of light and traffic.
  • Do not allow anyone to “tailgate” after you when entering your dorm.
  •  Learn the locations of all emergency call boxes on campus.

The Bloomsburg University Campus Police do what they can to protect, serve and educate the community. “Safety is a two way street and as a student I do what I can to stay safe,” said junior Rachael Rapella.

More  information on the Jeanne Clery Act can be found here.

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