Tarleton State University, part of the Texas A&M University system, is learning an expensive educational lesson in crime-reporting non-compliance. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has ordered TSU to pay “$110,000 in fines for Clery Act violations” and has “remanded the matter to the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) ‘for recalculation of the appropriate fine for the remaining 70 violations of the Clery Act.” According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the incidents “occurred from 2003 to 2005, (and) were among more than 70 assaults, drug-law violations, and burglaries that the institution failed to disclose as required by the Clery Act, the main federal law on campus-crime reporting.”
The violations at TSU which resulted in this “record fine” were made public in 2006 by journalism student Erin Cooper, and others, under the guidance of Professor Dan Malone, co-chair of FOIFT’s Light of Day Project. As a result of the Texas journalism students’ findings and analysis of their campuses’ adherence to the Clery Act, nineteen news articles were written about under-reporting crime at the state’s public and private universities. Their statewide look at the failure of many Texas colleges to fully comply with the Clery Act won first and second prizes in regional and statewide journalism competitions, as well as a national Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award, given by the nonprofit organization Security on Campus Inc.
The group of journalism students at Tarleton State won the “Mark of Excellence” Award from the Texas & Oklahoma region of the Society of Professional Journalists. The “Mark of Excellence” is the first-place award in the student category from the largest and oldest organization for professional journalists.
Dan Malone and two other faculty members in the Light of Day project won the Freedom of Information Foundation’s highest honor, the James Madison Award.
Recent follow-up reporting of Clery Act compliance, conducted at Texas State University in Lubbock and Southern Methodist University in Dallas in partnership with the Texas Tribune and FOIFT, also led to numerous professional journalism awards.