Michigan State Fined $4.5 Million for Clery Act Violations

September 11, 2019

The record $4.5 million fine issued against Michigan State University (MSU) in September 2019 as a result of Clery Act violations should serve as another reminder that Clery Act noncompliance can jeopardize campus security and dramatically affect a college or university’s reputation.

The Department of Education (ED) determined MSU failed to properly classify reported incidents and disclose crime statistics; failed to issue timely warnings in accordance with federal regulations; lacked administrative capability; and failed to identify and notify campus security authorities and establish an adequate system for collecting crime statistics from all required sources.

In 2018, MSU agreed to a $500 million settlement for hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse by former USA Gymnastics and MSU doctor/trainer Larry Nassar. A class action lawsuit contended the university failed to protect the women.

Prior to the $4.5 million fine against MSU, the largest fine issued for Clery Act violations at one university had been $2.4 million.

“What transpired at Michigan State was abhorrent, inexcusable, and a total and complete failure to follow the law and protect students,” ED Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a release. “Michigan State will now pay for its failures and will be required to make meaningful changes to how it handles Title IX cases moving forward.”

According to ED, MSU must take the following corrective actions:

  • Employ an independent Clery compliance officer, who will report to a high-level executive;
  • Establish a new Clery compliance committee that includes representation from more than 20 offices that play a role in campus safety, crime prevention, fire safety, emergency management, and substance abuse prevention; and
  • Create a system of protective measures and expanded reporting to better ensure the safety of its student-athletes in intercollegiate and recreational athletic programs. Similar steps will be taken to better ensure the safety of minors who participate in camps or other youth programs that are sponsored by the university or that are held on its properties.

Colleges and universities seeking to learn more about the Clery Act and ensure compliance should sign up for Understanding the Clery Act, a Canopy Programs online course. After completing the program, learners will understand requirements for institutions, the role of campus security authorities, and how campus geography plays into Clery reporting.

The Clery Act requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding to disseminate an annual security report to students and employees each Oct. 1.


Resources

Annual Security Report: 10 Questions to Ensure Compliance
Understanding the Clery Act Online Training
MSU’s Campus Crime Program Preview Report
Settlement Agreement Between MSU and ED’s Office of Federal Student Aid
ED Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Letter of Finding
Resolution Agreement Reached Between MSU and OCR