(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Celeste Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem), Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington) and Connie Wagner (D-Bergen) that would require the president of a public college or university to report campus crime statistics directly to the institution’s governing body was approved Monday by an Assembly panel.
“We have seen too many instances where administrators have failed to appropriately respond to crimes reported on campus at the expense of victims, students and the school’s reputation,” said Riley, who chairs the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “This bill would add an additional layer of scrutiny and responsibility to how schools respond and report criminal activity by requiring that all crimes that take place on campus are reported to the school’s governing board on a regular basis.”
The bill (A-3462) requires the president of each public institution of higher education, or his designee, to report to the governing board of the institution, at each of its regular meetings, all crimes, fires, and other emergencies which occurred on campus during the previous reporting period. Matters that are not a matter of public record must be reported to the governing board in an executive session.
“Many universities, most recently Swarthmore College, have been accused of underreporting sexual violence on campus,” said Lampitt. “No victim, whether of sexual violence or any other crime, should feel inhibited from reporting a crime or be denied justice by the very people charged with protecting them. This bill improves accountability and puts the safety and well-being of students first.”
“Parents trust these school administrators with the safety of their children. Failing to accurately report criminal activity not only betrays this trust, but can put students at greater risk since they cannot take preventive measures against crimes they know nothing about,” said Wagner. “Requiring that all criminal incidents be reported to a school’s governing board enhances oversight and accountability.”
The report must include: a count and classification of all criminal incidents which occurred on campus and which were recorded by campus security and campus or local police departments; a list of campus alerts, threats or emergencies which occurred on campus; and a count and classification of all fire incidents which occurred on campus and which were recorded by campus security and local fire departments. The report may also include: the status of all investigations of such acts or events, the type and nature of any discipline imposed on any student or employee identified as causing or contributing to such acts or events; and any other measures imposed, training conducted, or programs implemented, to reduce the incidence of such acts and events.
The bill was released by the Assembly Higher Education Committee.