Campus Life

University moves Clery Act training online

Connie Clery is one of several experts to appear in Penn State's online Clery Act training program. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

The first section of Penn State's new online Clery Act training program opens with a powerful video of Connie Clery, a driving force along with her husband behind the federal campus safety legislation that bears their daughter's name.

"Jeanne was just everything any mother would ever want and she was my joy, she was our family's joy. ... When we went to Lehigh, Jeanne fell in love with it, and I was so thrilled because not only was it a very attractive campus, but it was one hour and 15 minutes from home. Nothing could have shocked me more than to learn that she had been murdered at the safest place we could imagine."

Clery's narrative about her daughter's death and her subsequent efforts to make college campuses safer for students is supplemented by information from Edward Shupp, lead investigator on the murder case for Lehigh University; Alison Kiss of the Clery Center For Security On Campus; and U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-7).

"We never could have gotten all of those people into a training room the way we were able to participate in the online format," said Gabe Gates, the University's Clery compliance manager. "We're very proud of the quality and substance of this program."

Clery Act training has moved completely online at Penn State. The training, which is required for all Campus Security Authorities (CSA), takes about 40 minutes in its online format, and covers the history of the Clery Act, its requirements, the responsibilities of a CSA and best practices. Once participants complete the training and score at least 80 percent on the post-test, they receive a certificate of completion for their records.

"There are several advantages to using the online training. Participants can complete it on their own schedules, and they can replay any section of it at any time to make sure they understand the information. Even after they pass the post-test, they can use the online training modules as an easily accessible reference, which is something that wasn't possible with the in-person training," Gates said. "Having the training online also improves our accountability for tracking who has had the training, which must be completed every year by everyone designated as a CSA."

Gates said the online training also ensures consistency throughout all of the training sessions. He said that in 2013 his office conducted dozens of training sessions every week across Penn State's 24 campuses to train roughly 3,000 people designated as CSAs.

According to the training, CSAs include:

-- University Police

-- Nonpolice people or offices responsible for campus security, including but not limited to: campus contract security personnel; parking enforcement staff; personnel providing access control and/or security at campus facilities, athletic events or other special events; safety escort staff; residential community assistants; and other similar positions.

-- Officials with significant responsibility for student and campus activities, including but not limited to: academic deans; student affairs/residential life officials; coordinator of Greek affairs; athletic administrators including director, assistant directors and coaches; and faculty and staff advisors to student organizations.

-- Any individual or organization specified in an institution’s statement of campus security policy as an individual or organization to which students and employees should report criminal offenses, including but not limited to: Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs; Office of the Vice President for Human Resources; Office of Affirmative Action; Office of Student Conduct; Office of the General Counsel; and The Office of Residence Life.

The training provides an understanding of the University’s obligations under the law, the reporting requirements for Campus Security Authorities, and the proper procedures for reporting allegations of crime. It also specifies the types of criminal offenses that must be reported; geographic areas covered by the Clery Act; and additional information and resources available to victims.

"We mandate that CSAs must take the course, and those who are required to take it have already been notified through their Human Resources representatives. If you think you fall into the category of a CSA and have not been notified, contact your HR rep, or contact me directly," Gates said.

"Your role is really important. You may not receive a lot of reports. You may receive one a year or zero a year, but you need to understand what your role is, how to explain that to students, and how to report if you hear something, because typically it's going to happen when you least expect it," said Kiss from the Clery Center For Security On Campus.

While the training is intended for CSAs, it is open to everyone, whether or not they are affiliated with Penn State.

"We had assistance from some of the best resources available in producing this training. They gave of themselves to produce this, and we owe it to them to share their wisdom with everyone," Gates said. "In addition, as the training emphasizes, knowledge is power. Whether or not you are a designated Campus Safety Authority, you never know when you are going to be approached by somebody who's been a victim of violence who needs support and help. The more people who have the knowledge of what to do in that situation, the more powerful we as a community are to provide that help and support," Gates said.

For information about the training, visit and select "2014 Clery Act Training." Those with no Penn State affiliation can view the training at online.

The Jeanne Clery Act is named in memory of 19-year-old Lehigh University freshman Jeanne Clery who was brutally raped and murdered by a fellow student in her residence hall room on April 5, 1986. Shortly after Jeanne’s murder, her parents discovered that in the three years prior to her murder, 38 violent crimes had occurred on Lehigh's campus, which went largely unannounced. Her parents believe she and her fellow students would have been more cautious if they had known about the other violent crimes occurring at Lehigh.

Last Updated August 15, 2014