"She was my best pal."
These are the words Connie Clery comes back to again and again to describe her daughter, Jeanne. "She's absolutely charming, delightful, but a pretty tough competitor if you're on the [tennis] court with her," she says.
April 5, 1986
Connie and Howard Clery were returning home from a trip on April 5, 1986 and were surprised to see a police car waiting in their driveway. Their thoughts immediately raced to a tripped alarm or Howard’s elderly mother. Never did they think that something could have happened to Jeanne because, as Connie describes years later, “she was in the safest place she could have been.” In the early morning hours, Jeanne was raped and murdered in her residence hall by another student whom she did not know. She was 19 years old.
In the very beginning, right after Jeannie’s death, [my friend] and I were talking the week after the funeral. She asked, “Connie what are you going to do?” I said, “I don’t know, I don’t know. But I know that what happened to Jeanne could have happened to anyone, because she was in the safest place she possibly could have been…that’s when I decided I was going to try to make college campuses safer.
Connie and Howard began to press for legislation that would make colleges and universities safer. They began at a state level, passing the first campus safety law in Pennsylvania in 1988. Their advocacy took them across the country, working hand-in-hand with victims and their families. In 1990, their work culminated in the passing of the federal Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, today known as the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.
While the Clerys were working on Capitol Hill, they also were spearheading the beginnings of a nonprofit organization – one which would act as a watchdog, ensuring that colleges and universities would adhere to the law accurately.
The Clerys’ home served as the first office of Security On Campus, where an assistant worked off of Connie’s high school typewriter, before they moved to a more permanent office space. At Security On Campus, the staff worked side by side with students, families, and university administrators to file Clery Act complaints against colleges and universities.
Security On Campus served as a watchdog organization until 2009. As the landscape of campus safety and security changed, so did our focus.
As an organization, we recognized the need to empower members of the campus community to become educated advocates on their campuses and proactively address the campus culture that allowed these crimes to occur. The organization rebranded and changed to the Clery Center for Security On Campus to honor our co-founders and their amazing accomplishments. The Clery Center serves as a leader in policy, training, and education. No longer a watchdog, our approach is informed by research and experience. We aspire to influence the higher education system to embrace the requirements of the Clery Act as the “floor” while aiming for the “ceiling” – an ethical and moral commitment to safety.
We work side-by-side with colleges and universities to create safer campuses. We envision a world where all college students are safe and can learn and grow in environments of compassion and respect.
We believe prevention is critical to campus safety. From in-person Clery Act Training Seminars to learning membership programs, we partner with experts in the field to provide training to practitioners across the country.
In 2014, our training reached over 900 professionals across both our in-person and online
platforms, representing 486 colleges and universities from 49 states, Our participants and Collaborative members represent Title IX Coordinators, student affairs professionals, deans of student conduct, and everyone in-between.
We believe it's possible to create safer campuses across the nation.
Here's how we do it.
Transparency. Protection. Prevention.
These are the hallmarks of the federal Jeanne Clery Act. In addition to annual reporting of campus crime statistics, the Clery Act provides for a fair and equal campus adjudication process, houses a bill of rights for sexual assault survivors, and requires colleges to plan (and describe) proactive campus prevention programs.
Since the inception of the Jeanne Clery Act, the Clery Center has been involved in policy discussions at every level of government and contributed to monumental changes within the law.
Campus sexual assault has become a flashpoint for discussion across the nation - from the morning news to around the dinner table. The Clery Center is frequently sought as a source by both local and national media outlets for our expertise in the field of campus safety.
We've accomplished a lot in 25 years - but there's still more work to be done.
When we look to the future, we envision a world where all students are safe and can learn and grow in environments of respect. Through the next 25 years and beyond, here's how we plan to enact change.
Expanding our reach so institutions across the country know to pick up the phone and call the Clery Center as they work through campus safety challenges.
Building safer campus communities – for your children, for your grandchildren, and beyond.
Continuing to learn from students and from members of the campus community so we can drive policy conversations and find national solutions to the very real problems colleges and universities face.
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