Posted by: Catherine Lugg | January 27, 2011

A curious change in policy

According to the Daily Targum, Rutgers has changed its policy regarding crimes committed in residential halls. RAs are now to call the RU police. The paper reports,

The University modified its policy on residence hall crime by requiring resident assistants to report all crimes, including sexual assault, to the Rutgers University Police Department.

Previously, if a sexual assault were reported to a resident assistant, they would be required to report it to their direct superior. Under new regulations, they must immediately call the authorities.

“We are basically telling [resident assistants] that when a crime is reported to them, it’s not their judgment as to whether or not it should be reported, and RUPD will determine what will happen in that circumstance,” Vice President for Student Affairs Gregory S. Blimling said.

Now, since various forms of sexual assault tend to be felonies, it’s amazing that RAs didn’t have to report until today. Supposedly the reason for the change is to comply with federal law. The relevant federal law is the “Clery Act” (1990), which requires all colleges and universities receiving federal aid to disclose crimes that occur on-campus. If crimes are not reported, the university can lose federal funding.

But after 21 years of supposedly not being in compliance (to some extent), I wonder why Rutgers is announcing this policy change in mid-year, in the aftermath of one of the worst snow-storms during school (campus closed early yesterday, opened late today)? Could it have something to do with the possible fall-out from the on-going investigations of the suicide of Tyler Clementi?

Given the administrative stonewalling involving the Clementi criminal investigation, I have many, many questions.

Stay tuned…..

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Responses

  1. Shocking they didnt have to report it directly earlier. Seems pretty stupid and opens yourself up to a lawsuit (which I am sure is happening).

  2. Ed: I suspect this is being prompted by the on-going criminal investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutors’ Office. We’ve not heard “boo” about this investigation in months and months–a remarkably disciplined silence for NJ. Normally, things should be wrapped up and they aren’t.

    When the central administration refused to turn over e-mails related to Tyler Clementi they invoked FERPA, see https://cath47.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/not-a-good-sign/. Now, they are invoking the Clery Act, another federal law. But there’s something else going on. It could be a very interesting few months.


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