Frequently Asked Questions
Filing a Clery Complaint for Sexual Assault Issues on College Campuses
What is Clery?
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (known as the Clery Act) is a federal law requiring United States colleges and universities to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. The Act is enforced by the United States Department of Education. The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to do the following with regards to sexual assault reports: 1) Publish an Annual Security Report; 2) Disclose crime statistics for incidents that occur on campus, in unobstructed public areas immediately adjacent to or running through the campus and at certain non-campus facilities; 3) Issue timely warnings about Clery Act crimes which pose a serious or ongoing threat to students and employees; and 4) Devise an emergency response, notification, and testing policy.
What are the categories of crimes that must be reported?
- Murder & Manslaughter
- Sex Offenses: Forcible (sexual battery, sexual assault, rape)
- Sex Offenses: Non-Forcible (statutory rape, incest)
- Aggravated Assault
- Motor Vehicle Theft
- Domestic Violence
- Dating Violence
Hate crimes must also be reported by category, including by the following: Race, gender, gender identity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and disability.
What is the Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights?
The Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights was passed by Congress in 1992. It mandates that colleges/universities must provide the following:
- Accuser and accused must have the same opportunity to have others present.
- Both parties shall be informed of the outcome of any disciplinary proceeding.
- Survivors shall be informed of their options to notify law enforcement.
- Survivors shall be notified of counseling services.
- Survivors shall be notified of options for changing academic and living situations.
What is a Clery Complaint?
A Clery complaint is a document that details the ways in which you believe your college has violated the Clery Act and/or the Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights. This complaint can involve a single case or multiple cases. The length of this document varies, depending upon the number of cases included and the level of detail provided. Complaints typically include appendices with supporting documents (e.g., Annual Security Reports, copies of the daily crime log, copies of timely warnings). Clery complaints are organized by type of violation, not complainant.
Each complainant in a Clery complaint is a student, staff, or faculty member who has experienced an incident pertaining to the schools misreporting of crime statistics (e.g., discouraged from reporting a sexual assault, timely warning not issued after a sexual assault, being asked to alter crime statistics). Complainants can either be named or anonymous, and they can include as much or little detail about their case as they would like. Since Clery focuses on the college’s handling of sexual misconduct, complaints detail experiences with the college/university. Survivors do not have to recount their experience of sexual misconduct in the Clery complaint.
Do I need a lawyer to file a Clery Complaint against my school?
No, in fact most complaints do not involve lawyers at all. Filing a Clery complaint is an administrative process, not a legal process. However, legal counsel is a personal choice and may work for some and not for others.
How do I file a Clery Complaint?
You can call in, mail, or email your Clery complaint:
- Call: You can call 1-800-1-FED-AID to lodge your Clery complaint.
- Mail: Clery complaints should be sent to the regional Department of Education office that has jurisdiction over your college/university. A list can be found at: http://www2.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/services/casemanagement.html
- E-mail: To file a Clery complaint by email, send a message to the regional office (see above) and to email@example.com
Most complaints are too large to send as one email attachment, so we suggest sending the complaint and appendices as separate documents.
Who is eligible to file a Clery complaint?
Anyone who believes that a college/university that receives federal funding (e.g., financial aid) has misreported crimes, or perpetuated a culture that prevents crime reporting, can file a Clery complaint against that institution. Student allies, faculty, alums, and other concerned people can file a Clery complaint on behalf of survivors.
Does filing a Clery Act complaint cost any money?
What will Clery “do” if my school is found in violation?
The Department of Education has the ability to fine colleges and universities up to $35,000 per Clery violation. Clery can help schools comply with the law, and also monitor schools so that current and future students are protected.
What happens after I file a Clery Complaint?
The Department of Education (DOE) should acknowledge receipt of your complaint within two weeks of filing by emailing you and/or sending you a letter in the mail.
Is there a statute of limitations for filing a Clery complaint?
No. You can file a Clery complaint for violations of the Clery Act or the Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights that occurred at any point in time.
When will I hear back about my case after I file?
The Clery office is extremely busy and will probably prioritize cases that already have an ongoing investigation. One could hear back in less than three weeks or more than three months. There is no precise timeline.
How long will the Clery complaint process take?
Once an investigation is open, it could take several years to complete if numerous complainants are involved. It has been our experience that Clery attorneys start their investigation promptly (e.g., request documents from the institution), and they visit campus to interview the complainants (who want to be interviewed) and college/university staff within six months of opening an investigation.
Should I be a named or anonymous complainant?
Named complainants will have their names listed in the Clery complaint, while anonymous complainants will only be identified by a number. The DOE will not publicly release any names in the complaint, but in rare instances, a complaint gets leaked to the press from someone, and named complaints become known. It is generally best to have at least one person who is willing to be a contact/point person who can be named.
Will Clery tell my parents or the media about the fact that I filed?
Will Clery tell my school that I filed?
If you use your name and the school has a file from your case, Clery will request to see those files, but they are private and will not be shown to anyone else.
I submitted my complaint, but then my college violated Clery again, do I submit a new complaint?
You do not need to submit a new complaint. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line of your school and update the information. You can update the Department of Education about Clery violations as often as needed.
How can EROC help me file a Clery Complaint?
End Rape on Campus will provide free assistance at every step of the filing process – from helping you identify complainants to writing the complaint, filing the complaint, and crafting complaint updates. We will also connect you with other campus activists in various stages of the process, help you develop a workable media strategy, provide self-care advice, and furnish housing and other amenities for survivors in crisis.
How long does it take to write a Clery Complaint?
The time it takes to draft a Clery complaint varies widely, depending upon the number of alleged violations in the complaint and the number of people drafting the complaint. A complaint with just a few violations should take a few hours for one person to write up, but most Clery complaints cite multiple violations. For example, one Clery complaint with 73 alleged violations took one week for two people to complete. Filers generally find that Clery complaints take less time to complete than Title IX complaints, although both processes are time intensive at the start.