By Lindsey White
In 1986, Jeanne Clery, a freshman at Lehigh University, was raped and murdered in what should have been the safety of her dormitory. She had no way of knowing the quality of her safety considering standards for crime reporting on campuses did not exist.
After her death, Jeanne’s parents took it upon themselves to lobby for policy changes about crimes on college campuses are tracked.
As a result, the Jeanne Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to release a public crime report annually, was signed into law in 1990. In compliance with the Jeanne Clery Act, Trevecca Nazarene University released its 2020 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report in October. The report documents crime on campus in 2019.
“As part of the Clery Act, we are required to keep an open log in the security office that’s available at any time if people want to come see the open log,” said Greg Dawson, the director of security.
The report shows a decrease in crime in 2019 compared to 2018 and 2017. The crimes listed in the report are two drug law violations that ended in arrests, one burglary, and one hate crime.
“Somebody had written on the wall in one of the bathrooms in the Boone Convocation Center. Most of it wasn’t too legible but they did use a swastika, so because of that we documented it as a hate crime,” said Dawson.
The most common crime at Trevecca is theft, which makes up nearly half of all crimes per year on campus. The Jeanne Clery Act only requires campuses to report thefts considered hate crimes, according to Greg Dawson.
“We usually average around 20 crimes a year on campus, anywhere from 10 to 15 of those are theft,” said Dawson. “The majority of the time those thefts are thefts of opportunity, things that are left lying around unsecured or unattended.”
Students should keep their belongings secure, keep their room locked (even if they are just running to do laundry), and hide things of value out of sight if they are leaving them in the car, said Dawson.
“COVID-19 put a lot of financial strain on people, and because of the economy people will become desperate, and theft will go up worldwide just because of what’s going on and the hardships that we’re all going through,” said Dawson.
There were two incidents in 2020 involving men from off-campus disrupting the school.
“There was someone from off-campus who had gained access into the barn (on the urban farm),” said Dawson.
One of the barn managers heard the animals and found the man in there. He fled upon arrival and campus security has been working with Metro police to report the break-in, according to Dawson.
In another case, a man came on campus and trespassed near the women’s apartment.
“He didn’t break into the apartments but did knock on doors and create a disturbance,” said Dawson.
The Security Department trains resident directors and assistants about personal safety and theft prevention so they can teach their residents. They also offer safety classes upon request, according to the 2020 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.
The Security Department is also working with IT to expand cameras on campus, which will help them solve more crimes, according to Dawson.
“With campus closure last year into the spring semester, no activities through the summer, and just the way we’ve been operating, crime has actually been down on campus which has been great, but that doesn’t mean we want people to let their guard down,” said Greg Dawson.
As always, Dawson said he wants members of the campus community to contact security if they notice anything.
“Just be aware of your surroundings. If you see something out of the ordinary, let us know about it. Give us a call, shoot us a text, and we’ll check things out. We’d rather people notify us, and it be nothing than not notify us and it be something,” said Dawson.
To report an incident to campus security text (615) 642-3523.