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Identify Campus Security Authorities

Hillary Pettegrew, Esq.
October 2020
An explanation of who campus security authorities are and what they’re required to do

While the Clery Act doesn’t allow lawsuits brought by individuals, the Department of Education (ED) can levy fines — up to $58,328 per violation of the law, as of 2020. The law requires annual publication of statistics about reported campus-area criminal offenses, based on information gathered from local law enforcement and your college or university’s campus security authorities (CSAs).

Allegations of inaccurate Clery Act statistics have been a frequent source of bad publicity for institutions. A common cause of inaccurate Clery data is confusion over who qualifies as a CSA.

Who Are CSAs?

Clery Act regulations define “campus security authorities” as:

  • An institution’s campus police or security department
  • Other people with security responsibilities, like those monitoring access to campus property (such as parking lots, residence halls, and athletic venues)
  • People or organizations designated in an institution’s security policy as those to whom students and employees should report crimes
  • Officials with significant responsibility for student and campus activities, such as student housing, student discipline, and campus judicial proceedings

While the first three categories are straightforward, the fourth often causes Clery compliance problems. An “official” means a person with the authority and duty “to take action or respond to particular issues” on your institution’s behalf. What matters is an individual's job function, not title. The ED advises institutions to look for officials ─ not support staff ─ “whose functions involve relationships with students.” These include deans overseeing student housing or activities, resident advisors, Greek affairs coordinators, athletic directors and coaches, and faculty advisors to student groups. By contrast, clerical or cafeteria employees and faculty with no responsibility for student and campus activities outside the classroom are not CSAs.

Offenses reported to people acting as pastoral or professional counselors, even if they otherwise have responsibility for student and campus activities, don’t have to be reported under the Clery Act.

What Are CSAs Required to Do?

A CSA who receives a report of a Clery crime from anyone — with or without a connection to the institution — must report it to the designated official or office, usually the campus security or police department. If the CSA believes the report was made in good faith, the CSA is required to report all available information, such as the crime’s date and location, even if the victim is unknown or doesn’t want to file a criminal charge.

A CSA should report the matter to the designated person or office whether or not the CSA is sure the incident qualifies as a Clery crime. Here, the CSA’s obligation ends. CSAs shouldn’t attempt to:

  • Investigate crimes.
  • Determine the truth.
  • Persuade reluctant victims to come forward.

Those duties belong to campus or local law enforcement.

What Should Institutions Do?

To help ensure collection of all crime statistics the Clery Act requires, your institution should:

  • Annually review organizational charts to determine which positions meet the CSA definition and notify the people in those positions that they are CSAs.
  • Train CSAs on which employees are CSAs and why, and their obligation to report these crimes. Also train CSAs on what crimes must be reported under the Clery Act. The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, effective in March 2014, amended the types of Clery crimes that must be reported.
  • Send an annual letter to CSAs requesting they report any crimes not previously reported or verify that they have received no reports during the year.
  • Provide a standard crime reporting form that is easily accessible to CSAs.


More From UE
The Campus SaVE Act/VAWA: A Compliance Guide
Additional Resources
Clery Act: 20 U.S.C. section 1092(f)

Clery Act implementing regulations: 34 CFR sections 668.41 and 668.46

Department of Education: The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting, Chapter 4
University of Wisconsin-Stout: Campus Security Authority Compliance
Indiana University: Campus Security Authority Crime Report Form
Texas A&M University: Guidelines for Campus Security Authorities
D. Stafford and Associates: Campus Security Authority Online Training Program

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