Editorial: Circling back to the Clery Act


This editorial mentions instances of domestic abuse. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233. 

Hundreds of students at the University of Delaware gathered around campus last week  to protest their administration’s handling of gender-based, sexual and domestic violence on campus.  

On Oct. 8, Brandon Freyre, a 20-year-old male student at the University of Delaware, was accused of assaulting and kidnapping a female student. 

He allegedly locked her in his off-campus apartment, hit her with objects, spray-painted her eyes, pushed her down the stairs and choked her until she fell unconscious— threatening to kill her if she called the police. 

While this attack shocked students, it’s one of thousands that happen on college campuses across the country every year.

Nearly half of dating college women have experienced violent and abusive behaviors, including physical, sexual, digital and verbal, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 

The frequency of women experiencing attacks like this one is through the roof.

What else occurs with high frequency? Universities typically beating around the bush with such gender-based incidents. 

The University of Delaware released a statement in response to this attack – supposedly much later than their students’ preferred. It’s assumed that the university wanted to stay far removed from the situation and hesitated in responding to their community. 

Whenever encountered with student-on-student crime, the majority of universities tend to hesitate when taking action with incidents involving rape, sexual assault and domestic violence.

Why? To save the school’s reputation. Universities would do anything in their power to protect their image over their students’ safety. 

Presumably, you’ve heard of the Clery Act. You’ve most likely heard of it regardless of whether you’re a member of the Lehigh community or not. 

The act was established  in 1986, when Lehigh sophomore Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered in her dorm room. Her parents later discovered that her case was one of 38 violent crimes that happened at Lehigh in the past three years. The university’s crime log was not previously public.

Now a federal policy, the act serves to protect college students and requires universities to be fully transparent in terms of the crime that occurs on or around campus. This act is applied at every university in the nation that participates in the federal financial aid program. 

The issue with universities, like the University of Delaware, isn’t necessarily transparency about their on-campus crimes. The issue comes when handling the reporting and taking what’s deemed as the appropriate action. 

There are some aspects of these incidents that universities have little control over – such as the actions of their students. Nonetheless, more work and effort can and needs to be performed on their behalf.

University processes based in Title IX – sex-based discrimination – means everything in terms of how cases are handled. These processes raise the cases to light. If the process is done correctly, universities can be more transparent about what crimes occurr on their campuses.

With the Clery Act, those processes need to be handled properly in order to achieve transparency in the first place.

Universities must put their “reputation” aside and take these cases seriously. Student safety should be prioritized far beyond the university’s image.

The Clery Act stemmed directly from our campus. Lehigh was the reason this policy was implemented nationwide.

In response to the incident at the University of Delaware and part of a class project, Lehigh students hosted a Title IX information event this past weekend – stressing that there’s always more work to do when it comes to protecting students. 

With violence and assault rates far too high on college campuses, everyone deserves to feel safe.

The first step to fighting violence against college students starts with transparency.

Comment policy

Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.

1 Comment

  1. Robert F. Davenport Jr on

    Why wait until violence occurs; why not undertake testing to identify those who might be prone to violence and also those who might be prone to not identify danger; then educate them appropriately.

    Of course violent/abusive behavior should not be part of a college students makeup but many modern life experiences may make this more of a wish than reality.

    If “the first step to fighting violence against college students starts with transparency.” You may only be putting a band-aid on the real problem.

Leave A Reply