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Digest of Education Statistics: 2020
Digest of Education Statistics: 2020

NCES 2022-009
February 2021

Appendix A.3. Office of Postsecondary Education

Campus Safety and Security Survey

The Campus Safety and Security Survey is administered by the Office of Postsecondary Education. Since 1990, all postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV student financial aid programs have been required to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, known as the Clery Act. Originally, Congress enacted the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, which was amended in 1992, 1998, and again in 2000. The 1998 amendments renamed the law the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. The Clery Act requires schools to give timely warnings of crimes to the student body and staff; to publicize campus crime and safety policies; and to collect, report, and disseminate campus crime data.

Crime statistics are collected and disseminated by campus security authorities. These authorities include campus police; nonpolice security staff responsible for monitoring campus property; municipal, county, or state law enforcement agencies with institutional agreements for security services; individuals and offices designated by the campus security policies as those to whom crimes should be reported; and officials of the institution with significant responsibility for student and campus activities. The act requires disclosure for offenses committed at geographic locations associated with each institution. For on-campus crimes, this includes property and buildings owned or controlled by the institution. In addition to on-campus crimes, the act requires disclosure of crimes committed in or on a noncampus building or property owned or controlled by the institution for educational purposes or for recognized student organizations, and on public property within or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the campus.

There are three types of statistics described in this report: criminal offenses; arrests for illegal weapons possession and violation of drug and liquor laws; and disciplinary referrals for illegal weapons possession and violation of drug and liquor laws. Criminal offenses include homicide, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assaults, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Only the most serious offense is counted when more than one offense was committed during an incident. The two other categories, arrests and referrals, include counts for illegal weapons possession and violation of drug and liquor laws. Arrests and referrals relate to only those that are in violation of the law and not just in violation of institutional policies. If no federal, state, or local law was violated, these events are not reported. Further, if an individual is arrested and referred for disciplinary action for an offense, only the arrest is counted. Arrest is defined to include persons processed by arrest, citation, or summons, including those arrested and released without formal charges being placed. Referral for disciplinary action is defined to include persons referred to any official who initiates a disciplinary action of which a record is kept and which may result in the imposition of a sanction. Referrals may or may not involve the police or other law enforcement agencies.

All criminal offenses and arrests may include students, faculty, staff, and the general public. These offenses may or may not involve students that are enrolled in the institution. Referrals primarily deal with persons associated formally with the institution (i.e., students, faculty, staff ).

Campus security and police statistics do not necessarily reflect the total amount or even the nature of crime on campus. Rather, they reflect incidents that have been reported and recorded by campus security and/or local police. The process of reporting and recording alleged criminal incidents involve some well-known social filters and steps beginning with the victim. First, the victim or some other party must recognize that a possible crime has occurred and report the event. The event must then be recorded, and if it is recorded, the nature and type of offense must be classified. This classification may differ from the initial report due to the collection of additional evidence, interviews with witnesses, or through officer discretion. Also, the date an incident is reported may be much later than the date of the actual incident. For example, a victim may not realize something was stolen until much later, or a victim of violence may wait a number of days to report a crime. Other factors are related to the probability that an incident is reported, including the severity of the event, the victim’s confidence and prior experience with the police or security agency, or influence from third parties (e.g., friends and family knowledgeable about the incident). Finally the reader should be mindful that these figures represent alleged criminal offenses reported to campus security and/or local police within a given year, and they do not necessarily reflect prosecutions or convictions for crime.

More information on the reporting of campus crime and safety data may be obtained from the Clery Act Appendix for FSA Handbook, at

Policy Coordination, Development, and Accreditation Service
Office of Postsecondary Education
U.S. Department of Education
Campus Safety and Security Help Desk
(800) 435-5985