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Newsletter > September 2012 > "PENN STATE FALLOUT"
PENN STATE FALLOUT
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, email@example.com
The fallout from the Penn State scandal is not over and it is not limited to the University, its officials and the victims.
Penn State’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life is now training Fraternity and Sorority advisors on the Cleary Act. That federal law requires colleges and universities to record and disclose statistics on crime on campus. All “Campus Security Authorities” are required to report knowledge of certain criminal conduct. Those “Authorities” are defined as “any person who has the authority and the duty to take action or respond to particular issues on behalf of the institutions.”
While it is highly doubtful that the University would agree that the volunteer alumni advisors of Greek chapters have the authority to act on behalf of Penn State, the University is now telling those advisors that they are subject to the Cleary Act and will be treated as “Campus Security Authorities.” In that role the advisors have an obligation to report knowledge of an incident. The Security Authority is not obligated to reveal the name of an unwilling victim, but is expected to encourage the victim to report the crime to police and is required to record the information on a Campus Security Authority Incident Reporting Form.
And the Fallout is spreading.
Robert Morris University has recently announced its intention to conduct background checks on alumni advisors working with fraternities and sororities.
As the University’s Special Programs and Student Community Standards, Scott Irlbacher said:
“In response to recent events in higher education, we have decided to have closer contact with all volunteers working with our students and also conduct background checks to ensure these individuals will help us maintain our safe campus community.”
Robert Morris is asking each Greek chapter and other clubs on campus to provide lists of their advisors. The University then intends to have its human resources department review the advisors’ criminal record in order to determine their suitability. Advisors will also be required to accept the University’s policy on “Ethical Practice.”
The young adults in fraternities and sororities are in a much different position than the children abused by the former Penn State Assistant Coach; nonetheless it is not surprising that universities would be on a heightened state of alert. That is good, but a downside could be to discourage alumni advisor involvement at all. A result counter to the policy’s intent, but yet a real possibility.