Tulsa College Officials React To Penn State Scandal

Thursday, November 10th 2011, 5:20 pm
By: News On 6

The Department of Education is investigating whether Penn State failed to report a crime on campus.

The federal government wants to know if the school violated the Clery Act, a law that went into effect in 1990 after a Lehigh University student was killed on campus.

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is accused of molesting young boys since the late '90s. Joe Paterno was told of an incident in 2002 and told his superiors.

But the federal Department of Education wants to know if the school properly reported those alleged crimes. The Clery Act forces colleges and universities to report crimes on or near campus.

"It's something that TCC and TJC prior to that has been doing since we opened our doors in 1970," said Bill Horton.

Bill Horton is the Director of Campus Police for Tulsa Community College. He says the Clery Act has a long list of crimes that are supposed to be reported.

"Whether it's a homicide, a burglary, a larceny even lesser crimes...vandalism," he said.

The act requires schools to post the information online and Horton says TCC also posts warnings on walls and bulletin boards, even on elevator doors.

He says it's a great way for parents, students, and teachers to know what's happening on campus.

"It keeps them aware and it allows them to make safe decisions for their young people," Horton said.

The Clery Act is very specific about what colleges and universities are supposed to report. But it does not require an official police report to be on file for a school to report a particular incident.

The act applies to all colleges and universities, even private schools like the University of Tulsa. Horton says it may be hard for a school to admit a crime or heinous act has taken place on campus but, he says, it's all for the greater good.

"It's worth the black eye to be able to go ahead and tell everybody what's been happening on your campuses, there's no need for a cover up," Horton said.

Schools that are found to have violated the Clery Act can face a fine of up to $27,500 for every incident. The largest fine ever handed out was to Eastern Michigan University in 2008 for $357,000.

11/09/2011 Related Story: Stillwater Abuse Survivor Says Penn State Scandal Shines Much Needed Spotlight On Issue