5 Steps to Clery Act Communication Compliance Replay
For the transcript see below. If you’d like to learn how Everbridge helps colleges and universities ensure Clery Act Compliance, visit our Clery Act page here.
Hi everyone and welcome to today’s webinar titled The Clery Act’s Emergency Communications Requirement: Five Steps to Compliance. This webinar is sponsored by Everbridge. I want to start by thanking them. My name is Zach Winn. I’m a Senior Editor for Campus Safety Magazine and I’ll be moderating today.
Before we begin, I’d just like to let everyone know that if you’re having trouble hearing, you can click the audio tab on the right and adjust your audio settings. There are options to listen over the internet and through the phone. If you’re still having problems with anything technical, you can ask questions in the questions tab on the right and our webcast producers will answer those right away. We also encourage our listeners to use that box to ask questions about the content. We’re going to do a Q&A with the presenters at the end. We’ll try to get to all of your questions afterwards. You can ask questions throughout the presentation.
Quickly before I introduce our speakers, we brought a list of great resources we’re sharing in the handouts tab on the right. We’ve got a free active shooter threat assessment checklist customized for the K-12, university, healthcare and house of worship industries. We’re also announcing Campus Safety HQ which has a ton of great resources to help campus protection professionals train themselves, their department and train staff members on emergency response and other campus protection topics. You can learn more about those programs on CampusSafetyHQ.com.
Now on to the presenters. Today we’ve got our guest speaker Michael Scott from Everbridge. We also have Dr. Steve Goldman. He’s a senior lecturer at MIT and an expert consultant on emergency management and communications. Lastly we have Suzanne Blake, the manager of MIT’s Office of Emergency Management and Business Continuity. She has been in the College Emergency Management industry for over 15 years. I’ll turn it over to Steve and let him get started.
Steve Goldman: Great, Zach. Thank you very much. Welcome everybody. What we’d like to go through today is first let’s start off with two caveats. Briefly talk about MIT, go into our introduction then talk about the five steps. You can read that. We’ll summary, make a conclusion then we’ll go back to Everbridge. This is our take on the compliance guidance. It has worked for MIT and should work for you.
The first caveat is clearly you have to obtain the handbook for campus Safety and Security reporting, the 2016 edition. There’s the download. It’s a quick download although it’s a very thick book. It contains as it says the DOE’s interpretation of the Clery Act safety and security requirements however, this webinar is only going to discuss the emergency communications and timely warning requirements and not conditional safety and security requirements as covered in the handbook. The second caveat is simple. You have to adapt this to your college and your university. All the situations, all the circumstances vary even from universities in the same location, the same area, things vary. Please adapt it to your organization.
Briefly about MIT. You can see that we were incorporated in 1861 about 150 years ago in Boston, 100 years ago or so we moved across the river. We are now settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts and you can read all the neat information about our school. The interesting thing about MIT is we have 11,000 or plus students and the interesting thing is our graduate school is larger than our undergraduate school. You can read the numbers. We have about 12,000 employees which makes us a little bit unique also in that unlike most universities, we actually have more total employees than we have students. You can read the faculty and the major and minor programs but the important things is if freshman pass an archery, fencing, pistol and sailing class, they get a pirate certificate straight from MIT. This is one of the things that makes us unique.
Thank you. Where did the Clery Act originate? Back in 1965 you all know the higher education act went through. Sadly in 1986, Jeanne Clery was assaulted and murdered at Lehigh University. This led to the Crime and Awareness Security act of 1990. You can read the rest of the organization. In 2008, the act was revised after the Virginia Tech shooting. Much had changed. [inaudible 00:05:14] regulations on emergency response, communications, fire safety, missing students even and even hate crime reporting. This of course led to the handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting in 2016. This is what the book looks like. The download website was given. This also references the Violence Against Women Act and Title 9. It’s pretty comprehensive and almost a one stop shop.
The emergency communication components which is what we will be talking about, timely warning and communications, I hate to say it but they are complex and they are very concerning to a lot of institutions nationwide. Again, this presentation only discusses emergency communications and the timely warning requirements, not all the additional information. Yet it’s a complex document that does require careful attention. The most important take away from our discussion is that you need to develop and maintain and test clear, defendable policies and procedures for notification and timely warning. In other words, you need to do what’s right for your students and your staff. That’s clear, but you also need to do what’s right for your university.
Let’s move on to step one. That sounds simple but it’s not. You need to form your Clery committee. Guys and girls, we need to let you know that this is not a one person job. The purpose of the committee you can read is to identify develop and evaluate the protocols procedures to manage, adhere to and report on the Clery Act requirements. At MIT we meet quarterly. We recommend you meet regularly. You should meet quarterly. This is the best first step towards compliance. You bring together experts from across your institution. You can read the list. What we do at MIT is we have a smaller core group which we expand as necessary and when needed. Again, form the committee. I know how many committees there are at every university. This one is very, very important. Form the committee. This will be the best first step towards compliance. I’ll turn it over now to my colleague, Suzanne Blake. Suzanne?
Suzanne Blake: Thanks Steve. Now that you have formed your committee, the next step in complying with the Clery Act emergency notification and communications requirements is to determine your Clery Act geography. This is exceptionally difficult to do. We really recommend that you get that committee together first so you can discuss your geography and create a map of what the Clery Act is going to cover on your campus. This means that you’re determining exactly where geographically the Clery Act applies to your campus community because the Clery Act requires dissemination of emergency communications based on threats happening on the campus. The campus means very specific thing in the Clery Act.
For Clery purposes they define campus in three ways, on campus, non campus and public property. We’re going to go through each one of those for you as it’s described in the handbook. I won’t read all this but this is the exact text from the law as far as what on campus means and in the handbook but to translate it for you, on campus means any buildings or properties that your institution owns or controls, they are reasonably contiguous to one another so they are in the area that you consider your campus and they directly support or relate to the institution’s educational purposes.
There are some very clear examples of this but then there are some that are not so clear. Some of the more clear examples are your residence halls or your classroom buildings or your student center. Some that are not as clear are perhaps vendors that are within some of those buildings that are not your institution’s ownership but you have vendors that you are contracting with. That would be considered a Clery location. Also, medical centers or hospitals that are controlled by your institution on your campus. The interesting thing about the handbook is that for the geography chapter which is chapter two and we suggest you definitely read that chapter, it goes into many different complex examples of what on campus means. It’s important to read all them but even more important is that you determine in your Clery committee, what is on campus. That goes to the other categories as well and we’ll talk a little bit about those.
This is a map of MIT’s Clery geography. It’s actually not even the most updated map because this thing changes all the time but I’m going to give some examples of all of the three different categories based on what we’ve determined is our Clery geography map. On here, just to orient you to the map, the orange is what we consider on campus for Clery geography. The blue is non campus and the red is our police patrol area. That becomes important when we’re talking about emergency notification and where we want to notify them.
First, I’ll talk a little bit about our on campus examples. We have some very straightforward areas that are on campus. Right here is where our student center is. It’s where our recreation center is. Buildings that are very clearly used by students it was a no brainer to include these in our Clery geography for on campus. Also, here, these are the majority of our residence halls. That was very clear that we would include them in our Clery geography. Some that are not as straightforward, this is sort of an outlying building that reasonably contiguous is very big phrase. Some might say that this is not reasonably contiguous to our main campus but it is close enough that we consider it part of our main campus and it is also frequented by students and employees. You probably can’t see but it says MIT museum there. It is also frequented by the public. It is used for educational purposes and therefore we definitely include it in our Clery geography.
Now, that doesn’t mean that in this gray area we would not be issuing timely warnings and emergency notifications. We consider our police patrol area also very important. If an incident happened here which actually there is a couple of pharmaceutical companies in that blue circle there. If we found out about it, and we knew about it and it was something we considered a threat, we would still issue a notification even though it’s not colored in orange. But, as far as assigning our Clery geography, it’s very important to consider each and every building as far as if it’s on campus or non campus.
Let’s talk a little bit about non campus. This is the exact text from the handbook but we’re going to translate it for you again. In the handbook it’s translated as well. It’s locations that are owner controlled by your institution that support or are used for educational purposes and frequently used by students that are not necessarily part of the core campus, what you would consider your core campus geography. An example that is very prevalent to MIT and some of you may have as well is that we have fraternity and sorority houses that are not part of our main campus. They’re actually across the river in Boston. They’re even in a separate city. We consider those non campus instead of on campus.
The handbook gives very complex examples of what you might consider non campus. It talks about high schools that are on campus that are used by students or not used by students in which case they might be defined as two different things. It talks about businesses, vendors, leased spaces, all sorts of things. It talks about if you have campuses or classes in strip malls even. There’s a whole paragraph about strip malls. It goes into a lot of specific and very complex examples. That’s why we encourage you to read it. Again, the important thing is that your committee decides together and in a very educated way and have solid reasoning behind what is on campus and what is non campus.
To show you our map again, those blues spots on the bottom there are across the river from MIT. Those are our fraternity and sorority houses. We consider those as non campus. We’ll talk about what non campus versus on campus means for notifications in a few slides. We consider those non campus. The other blue ones that are out on the periphery are considered non campus because they are not used by students and not used for educational purposes. The one that I’ve circled here for example is a warehouse, a storage warehouse. It’s not considered part of our on campus. Again, if something happened there, it doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t notify the community but for our Clery reporting and for our Clery map, we define that as non campus. Again, this is always in flex. Things are always changing on the campus. The map therefore is always changing. This building circled in blue might all of a sudden be used for a classroom space and then we would have to change it to on campus.
The third category is public property. All public property including thoroughfares, streets, sidewalks and parking facilities, that is within the campus or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the campus is considered public property that you might have to include in your Clery Act geography. Some examples are parking areas, waterways, public parks that are not owned by you but are immediately contiguous to your campus and are used by your campus community, transit stops. The handbook again goes into a lot of very specific examples about what you would consider public property as far as including it in your Clery Act geography. A good rule of thumb for our most common public property which is the sidewalks outside of our buildings and the streets outside of our buildings is the rule they give in the handbook that our public property doesn’t include anything beyond the second sidewalk outside of a campus building. We use the sidewalk, street, second sidewalk rule. If something happens in that sidewalk, street, sidewalk right outside of our campus building, then we would use it as part of our Clery geography.
You will notice that our streets are not colored in but that is simply just our mapping folks not having colored them in. They are definitely still a part of our Clery geography as far as the sidewalk, street, sidewalk rule. A small example of a public park that is within our geography is right here and that is not owned by us but it is right with a lot of our buildings so that is considered part of our Clery geography.
One we’ve had great lengths of discussion on and are considering including in our Clery geography but has not been included on this map is that there is a green way next to the river and it is separated from MIT’s campus by a pretty big road and a pretty busy road. We talked about if something does happen there, it’s nearby to the campus and do we need to include it as part of our Clery geography. That just goes to show you that in our Clery committee, we’re consistently talking about how do we need to change this map, how do we need to update it and having very lengthy discussions about very specific pieces of geography on or near our campus.
In order to determine your Clery Act geography, after you’ve formed your Clery committee, you really want to refer to the handbook and go through all the examples listed in the handbook. It also includes things like international locations that you own or frequently use, things of that nature. You want to discuss all of those types of places that your campus uses for your educational purposes and for your students. Then you want to have an in depth discussion about each of your spaces and your buildings and in which category they might fall. This is a really long process potentially if you have a lot of campus buildings. It’s really important to go through all of them, especially the ones that are not as straight forward like residence halls and student centers and ask yourselves if you need to include them as part of your Clery geography first and secondly what category they would fall in.
We recommend creating a map that includes your on campus and non campus and public property that fall within the Clery Act. I can tell you as an emergency manager here, this had greatly helped me when things happen on the campus, I know where they’re happening and if it’s a little bit unsure if we need to issue some sort of notification that really helps based on the law. If it’s unclear for safety reasons if we should issue one, the law can steer us in one direction or another and it’s just another criteria we can use for issuing communication. You want to revise the map regularly as new buildings come online or change function. Something that we’ve found very challenging at MIT is actually developing a method to be alerted if it changes because there are changes going on all the time on this campus, people moving around, people changing buildings, new buildings coming online, we’re always under construction. We’re trying to develop a good process to be alerted of those changes so we know what buildings we have to include in our Clery geography that maybe weren’t included before or when new buildings come online.
Some of you it might be a little more straightforward to determine your Clery Act geography for an institution like MIT which is in the middle of an urban environment, very complex and scattered about. It was very, very time consuming. Our risk management office took the lead on this and they also talked with our lawyers on campus and our safe management folks and it took a very, very long time for them to come up with the map that we have now. Again, it’s always changing. It might be simple and straightforward but most likely it’s going to be pretty complex but it’s definitely worth having the conversation and really going through that process to make sure you know what’s what in terms of your Clery geography.
Decide on as a committee the three locations and the buildings that are in them and have solid reasoning behind those decisions. We very easily could have decided that our fraternities and sororities across the river should be on campus verses non campus because they’re within a mile of our main campus which is another number that the handbook gives as a marker you could use for what is included in your campus. However, our solid reasoning behind making the decision that they’re non campus is that they’re in a different city, they’re in a different jurisdiction and because of that we might not even find out that emergencies are happening and therefore that would hinder our ability to be able to send notifications and communication. That’s our solid reasoning. We stick to it. It’s on our map and we make sure we stick to that when we’re implementing our emergency communications program. That’s really important is to have that solid reasoning after you have your discussion and then stick to it.
Once you’ve formed your Clery committee, you’ve created your map based on your Clery geography, now you can actually use that information to understand the requirements for timely warning and emergency notification. This is where the non campus versus on campus comes into play quite a bit. Under the Clery act, every institution must issue timely warnings for crimes that represent ongoing threat to the safety of students. Also, you must issue emergency notifications upon confirmation of significant emergencies or dangerous situations that cause an immediate life threat. Breaking that down a little bit between timely warning and emergency notification. Timely warning covers the crimes, any crimes that continue to pose a threat to your campus and your campus community whereas emergency notifications are any hazard or any significant emergency or dangerous situation that posed an immediate threat to your campus community. Timely warnings focus on crimes. Emergency notification is anything that may cause a life safety threat.
Where. This is where your on campus versus your non campus falls into play. Timely warnings, you have to issue timely warnings for the locations that you consider on campus as well as the locations you consider non campus. When crimes happen in our fraternities and sororities across the river, we issue timely warnings. But if a significant emergency or dangerous situation happens, we don’t. For example, we don’t have to by law issue an emergency notifications although we still might. Whereas emergency notification is for on campus only. That includes the public property. But on campus what we consider on campus, the orange spaces on our map, we absolutely must issue an emergency notification if a significant emergency or dangerous situation happens there that we consider a life safety threat to our community. Timely warnings must go to the entire campus community whereas emergency notifications can be tailored to a segment of the community that is affected and that is determined when you’re doing your emergency notification protocol.
When. Timely warnings you can send them when you have enough information to adequately describe this threat whereas emergency notification you must send immediately upon confirmation of the threat. There are some differences there. You can use the sames modes and methods and processes to send the emergency communications for both of these so you can use email for both of them for example. Then some threats like active shooters for example could fall into both categories. If you issue an emergency notification for an active shooter, it counts as your timely warning for the same hazard. You can count it for both if you have to use both for a particular hazard.
The Clery Act, as many of you know also includes emergency response and evacuation procedures requirements. It essentially says that you have to have emergency response and evacuation procedures that you would use if you had any of these threats. This actually applies to the on campus portion of your Clery Act geography. Don’t think that that means we leave out our fraternities and our sororities and that we definitely have procedures for them as well but for the law as far as following the law, it applies to your on campus portion of your Clery Act geography. I really like what they say in the handbook that it just requires you to have an emergency plan, test it, evaluate it and publicize it.
There are some things left up to interpretation here. There is a little bit of confusion as to whether you need to have an evacuation procedure for your entire campus or just for every building. If you need to test every building every year or if you just need to test it in a tabletop exercise as far as a general evacuation procedure. There’s a lot of interpretation there and that’s why we encourage you with your Clery committee to have solid reasoning behind what you’re doing as far as testing your evacuation and response procedures and on how granular you have those evacuation procedures.
This is a table that I created just to make sure that in general we were following all the letters of the law for the emergency notification part. Each one of these program elements you could write pages and pages on and the handbook does have pages and pages on each one of these program elements. This sort of breaks it down according to the exact text of the law. That way you can quickly see how do we adjust this? Have we only partially adjusted or do we not adjust it at all? Then once you figure out where you are on each of these you can get into the more detailed requirements that come with each one of those and the interpretations that are in the handbook.
Then, it’s really important to understand all of those requirements because that’s when you can start putting together your policies and procedures to make sure those requirements are realized and that you can implement them and also test them.
The fourth step, now that you’ve created your Clery committee, you’ve determined your Clery geography and you understand the requirements for timely warning and emergency notification, now you can create your clear defendable policies and procedures. The handbook definitely encourages that you document everything. You document your Clery Act committee decisions. You definitely document what you determine as your geography, all of the specific conditions that you have as an institution that you’ve decided on with your Clery Act committee and how you are complying with the guidance and if you have any departures from the guidance and your solid reasoning behind that. Then, of course, many of us have been working on this for years, our procedures for timely warnings and emergency notifications and also our emergency response and evacuation procedures.
The important thing for documenting everything is that you say what you do and you do what you say. This is a quote directly from the handbook and they say it a few times. Say what you do and do what you say. Make sure that your procedures are actually describing what you would actually do in an emergency and make sure that what you do in an emergency is what you’ve described in your policies and procedures which is sometimes tough but make sure that you’re translating each of those exactly how you would use them in real life.
Your plans and protocols should include a policy for when your institution will send emergency notifications and timely warnings. This may seem simple but it’s something that you all have to decide. For example, we’ve decided that we only send an MIT alert for a life threatening emergency that requires our community to take action to stay safe. That’s what we educate our community on and that’s what we do when we send alerts. There is a lot of folks that use it for additional things like if they close for severe weather or snow or something like that. We’ve decided only to use it for life threatening emergencies. We use other methods for that. It’s important to decide on how you’re going to use your emergency notifications.
A good way to do that is to include examples of scenarios in which you would send an emergency notification. We have a handful of scenarios in our protocol. One is active shooter. One is tornado warning. One is hazardous materials incident and the next is significant emergency or dangerous situation. That sort of vague definition that they have in the law that leads room for anything else. Those are the ones we know are going to need an immediate, quick emergency notification and we describe how we confirm those, what the messages that go out would be, and things of that nature. We have a policy statement for when we’re sending them and then what situations we’re sending them for as well as room for flexibility when we’re implementing our procedures because we know nothing is going to be exactly as how we think of it in our heads as far as what is going to happen. We have flexibility there as well.
Then for timely warning perhaps including a list of crimes you would send a timely warning for. Again, you can’t think of everything under the sun that could potentially happen but going back into the guidance and determining from the guidance what exactly you’re going to send a timely warning for to your community. Then you want to map out your procedures for how exactly you’re going to issue an emergency notification or a timely warning that references that policy statement including how and when the process is initiated and then who is implementing the process for both of those. A list of titles of people within your organization that are carrying out the process and then also the methods that you’re using to disseminate the communication. You can use the same method and you might have the same options for methods that you might determine that for timely warning you want to send emails versus text messages whereas for emergency notification you want to send it on everything that you have available because it’s an immediate life threatening situation. Just deciding that in advance is very important.
Specifically the emergency notification procedures you should include how you’re confirming the emergency. That’s part of the law and that’s something that you want to make sure you’re doing so you’re not sending out emergency notifications for things that aren’t confirmed causing undo stress on your community and things of that nature. Make sure you have a process for how you’re going to confirm it whether it’s through your campus police or another way that you’re confirming it.
Then determining the appropriate segment of the community that you’re going to send the alert. We’ve made that easy. We say if something life threatening is affecting our campus, we send it to absolutely everybody. We’ve made that a blanket statement of what we would do. It’s possible that if you have more separate campuses, you have different processes for each campus how you’re determining which to send it to. We just have people moving around all the time so we send it to everybody.
Suggested content for the message, this is not have to be super specific. You could include sample templates but our suggested content for our messages is simply incident at location, instruction. We’re trying to figure out what the incident is, where it’s happening and what we want our people to do. That’s really our main template that we have in our heads and in our process as far as issuing our notifications. Then the process for disseminating it, who’s doing it, how you’re doing it, which modes you’re using, are you using social media, things like that. Then how you’re testing this process. The handbook is very vague on encouraging testing of all of your processes and procedures and documenting those tests. Making sure you’re testing these things on an annual basis and then documenting them. I hate to tell you but real implementation of these procedures for real emergencies do not count for the test. You actually have to have pre plan tests that you’re going to have. You can’t just count if you’ve used your emergency notification system or your evacuation procedures for a real emergency, it doesn’t count for the test.
Again, you want to document your processes for issuing your communications via different modes and really decide what modes are going to best for your community and for the different sectors of your communities. A lot of us use text messaging systems now but there might be other things you want to use. We use digital signage boards across campus. We also use social media because we know a lot of our students, and faculty and staff are following social media. But we’re making sure to have multimodal systems so we can get it out to as many people as possible. Again, deciding which of those modes you’re going to use for emergency notification versus for timely warning and doing that ahead of time is definitely beneficial.
Also make sure you have backup methods in place. Our business continuity for our emergency notification and timely warning, you should have a plan for that. Make sure that the users that are responsible for implementing the processes are trained regularly on both the main and the backup system. There is a really good appendix in the handbook, appendix C. It has an extensive checklist on every thing you need to do to comply with the Clery Act safety requirements. There are specific sections dedicated to the timely warning and emergency notification portion. I definitely encourage you to look at that and then you can have a really easy checklist of am I doing the right thing and do I have everything covered. It’s definitely a great resource.
Now I’ll turn it back over to Steve for step five.
Steve Goldman: Great. Thank you Suzanne. To paraphrase Yogi Bera, it ain’t over. Just having a piece of paper to document is not good enough. What you have to do is implement your program. Relative to the other four steps, this one is relatively easy if you do as the handbook suggests. Use your plan and procedures wisely and accurately that says as Suzanne pointed out, making notifica