UNC fined $1.5M for misreporting campus crime stats

by Maria Copeland

Chapel Hill, NC – The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill announced Tuesday that it has entered into a settlement with the Department of Education over its failures to fully report campus crimes. The school has agreed to pay the Department of Education $1.5 million in fines, and the university will participate in a monitoring program to improve policies, UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz wrote in a statement

photo: unc.edu

The Department of Education began a review of UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013, according to Guskiewicz’s statement. Completed in 2019, the investigation exposed failures to “properly define the campus/clery geography,” “issue timely warnings,” “properly compile and disclose crime statistics,” and “include required information in annual fire safety reports.”

Guskiewicz wrote that these shortcomings noted in the review are “disappointing” and “do not meet our standards for excellence.” 

UNC’s infractions violated the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, which requires institutions of higher education to report on-campus crimes, as well as to make their campus security policies public. Crime data must be reported to the campus community and to the Department of Education in order to inform students and their families about universities’ safety. 

The university has openly acknowledged its failure to comply with the restrictions and disclosed efforts it has recently made in order to increase the security of its campus. These have included creating the role of Vice Chancellor for Integrity and Risk Management, and engaging a recognized campus safety consulting firm to assess campus protocols, and hiring its current chief of police

“Protecting the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors remains a critical priority for our University,” Chancellor Guskiewicz wrote. “We are committed to putting the right people, training and resources in place to continuously improve and strengthen our Clery Act compliance and safety program, and to keep pace with the very best practices on college campuses nationwide.” 

UNC’s failure to report campus crime comes amid nationwide calls for colleges to break with local police departments and defund campus police departments. Protesters gathered on the Chapel Hill campus in early June, calling for police to be defunded, but the university has emphasized its involvement with the police as it moves forward under the settlement with the Department of Education. 

“UNC-Chapel Hill has come under a lot of fire for denying the public access to what ought to be public records, especially in the realm of serious Title IX issues,” Brooks Fuller, director of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition said, as the Associated Press reported. “Public records are the property of the public and universities do their best work when they do it in the light of the day.” 

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Reprinted with permission of CampusReform.org