The Department of Education has found that the University violated several federal regulations — which include a mandate to report all sex offenses to the government — at the end of a nearly seven year-long investigation into the Yale Police Department last week. Now Yale could face punishment ranging from fines to reduced federal funding for student aid as a result.
According to the DOE’s May 23 Final Program Review Determination, which was addressed to University President Richard Levin, Yale violated the Clery Act when it failed to properly compile and disclose crime statistics. The University also failed to comply with the timely warning and crime log requirements and improperly defined campus boundaries. Additionally, Yale failed to report accurate crime statistics for the Medical School and Yale-New Haven Hospital. Required policy statements were also omitted from campus security reports.
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires that all universities report their campus crimes annually to the DOE in order to receive federal dollars for student aid.
After completing the FPRD last week, the DOE gave the document to the Department’s Administrative Actions and Appeals Service Group to assess what if any punishments the University will receive for its violations. These could range from a fine to the termination of all federal student aid Title IV grants for the university.
In the report, which was copied to YPD Chief Ronnell Higgins, DOE case director Nancy Giffords wrote that the University had almost entirely corrected the violations since the investigation began in late 2004. Still, Giffords wrote, Yale failed to disclose details from four forcible sex offenses from 2001 and 2002 as required by the Clery Act.
Yale did not include those forcible sex offenses in its report of annual crime statistics when the crimes occurred. Rather, the offenses were only reported to the University’s Sexual Harassment Grievance Board. The DOE determined that all of Yale’s campus crime statistics from several years prior to the investigation only included crimes reported to the YPD, the New Haven Police Department and the Yale Executive Committee (ExComm). Leaving out the crimes handled by the Sexual Harassment Grievance board is in violation of the University’s federal responsibilities, according the report.
Even when the University did add the four offenses to their report, the DOE still questioned its accuracy.
“Yale officials indicated that the [Sexual Harassment Grievance Board] and other such tribunals did not keep any records for most cases and that no one had requested statistics prior to the complaint and the controversies that led to it,” the report read. “For this reason, the Department has determined that the revised statistics are, at best, an unverifiable estimate based on the best recollections of [Sexual Harassment Grievance Board] members.”
Despite the uncertainty caused by Yale’s record-keeping, the DOE review reported that Yale has been in full compliance with the requirements to include all instances of sex offenses in its annual Clery reports for the past six years.
The DOE also accused the University of failing to provide timely notifications to the campus community in the event of crimes. Yale contested this charge, arguing that the claim was solely based on its slow response to an October 2005 attack on a Davenport College student. Still, the DOE refuted the University, explaining that the YPD had failed to give adequate warning following incidents on several other occasions. The report attributed this lapse partially to the residential college system, since information of a crime may only be distributed throughout one college at times.
“The Clery Act requires that reportable incidents that may constitute an ongoing threat must be disseminated campus-wide,” the report read. “However, the Deans and Masters of the residential college limited the distribution of warnings only to members of their own residential college or neighboring ones.”
The DOE also found that the University failed to report all of the incidents on its campus because it did not include crimes occurring near Yale-New Haven Hospital. The hospital is affiliated with Yale and serves as a teaching facility for medical students, therefore some YNNH areas needed to be included in any campus crime reports, according to the Clery Act.
The DOE began investigating the YPD after an article was published in the July/August 2004 issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine. This article, entitled “Lux, Veritas and Sexual Trespass,” raised questions about the University’s compliance with regulations regarding the dissemination of information about sexual assault and harassment, Gifford said in the report.
The DOE first initiated an off-site review of the YPD in November 2004, and then conducted an on-site evaluation beginning June 18, 2007 and ending June 22, 2007.
The DOE investigation only reviewed Yale documents from 2001 to 2006.
Correction: June 1, 2011
An earlier version of this article misstated the nature of the relationship between Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital. The University does not, in fact, own the facility, but rather is affiliated through the Yale School of Medicine. The DOE maintained in its report that because of the affiliation and the use of some of the hospital spaces for teaching, Yale was required under the Clery Act to report crimes or crime allegations in certain YNNH areas in its annual campus security data.