The Department of Education has fined Yale University $165,000 for "very serious and numerous" Clery Act violations, stemming from sex offenses that the Ivy League school failed to report, as well as not properly defining areas where crime statistics could be tabulated.
In a letter sent to the school last month, the Department of Education issued Yale the maximum fine allowed under law, $27,500, for failing to report four sexual crimes during the 2001 and 2002 calendar years. Fines were also issued because the school did not properly designate parts of Yale-New Haven Hospital as on the school campus. The areas of the hospital were not included in crime statistics that are given to the federal government under law every year.
The Clery Act is a federal law that requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and near their respective campuses.
In the letter, Mary Gust, the Director of Administrative Actions and Appeals for the Department of Education, writes the investigation started in 2004 after an article in the Yale Alumni Magazine questioned the school's compliance with Clery Act statutes. Further investigation was conducted in 2007, with Yale being made aware of DOE's findings in 2010. After Yale's response, DOE issued a final determination in 2011 that the school did not conform to the Clery Act.
"These failures endangered Yale's students and employees who must be able to rely on the disclosures of campus crime statistics, policies, and statements, and the accurate reporting of crime statistics to take precautions for their safety," Gust wrote.
The university has come under increased scrutiny in recent years for the manner in which it deals with sexual offenses that occur on its campus.
In 2011, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into complaints that Yale's campus contained a sexually hostile environment and the school failed to adequately respond to sexual harassment concerns, a violation of Title IX. Yale spokesperson Thomas Conroy wrote in an email to U.S. News that the federal government did not find Yale to be in noncompliance with Title IX, and the school settled with the DOE in June 2012.
One of the students who filed a complaint in 2011, Alexandra Brodsky, hopes the DOE's fines will "push Yale to continue reforming its approach to sexual violence."
"For far too long, Yale has kept survivors silent and manipulated its Clery statistics to present a cheery, violence-free picture of campus life to the outside world," Brodsky, who recently graduated from Yale, wrote in an email. The university can't be allowed to continue to prioritize its public image over its students' safety - and the fine is a step in that direction."
In an emailed statement to the New Haven Register, Conroy wrote, "Yale fully supports the Department of Education's mandate under the Clery Act and believes that student safety is of paramount importance. The university is fully committed to maintaining a robust program of campus security policies and campus crime statistics reporting that contains all of the elements prescribed by the Clery Act."
In an emailed statement to U.S. News, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center called the fine "a statement about the importance of holding institutions accountable."
"There's no amount of money that could possibly exemplify the seriousness of these crimes," Traci Cox, Communications Director for the NSVRC, wrote in an email. "Changing the rape culture that exists on college campuses has to involve university administrators as leaders. Students deserve the opportunity to pursue their education in a safe environment that is free from harm."
Conroy tells U.S. News that Yale has requested reconsideration of the fines imposed by the Department of Education.
Corrected on : Update 5/17/13: This story has been updated to include comment from a Yale spokesperson.