An institution may have off campus property that meets the geographical definition for “noncampus buildings or property” while at the same time meeting the Clery definition of “separate campus.” If that is the case, the property should be classified as a separate campus, which carries with it significant Clery compliance obligations.

As noted in a prior blog post, the more utilized of the two definitions for non-campus buildings or property is as follows:

Any building or property owned or controlled by an institution that is used in direct support of, or in relation to, the institution’s educational purposes, is frequently used by students, and is not within the same reasonably contiguous geographic area of the institution.

This definition broadly covers a lot of different types of properties, and it seemingly applies to a noncontiguous location where classes are held. However, the categorization of such a location must be analyzed in light of the “separate campus” guidance on page 2-6 through 2-8 of the 2016 edition of The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting (“Clery Handbook”), which indicates that a separate campus is one that meets all of the following criteria:

  • Your institution owns or controls the site;
  • It is not reasonably geographically contiguous with the main campus;
  • It has an organized program of study; and
  • There is at least one person on-site acting in an administrative capacity.

The latter two bullet points are the ones that distinguish a separate campus from other types of noncampus property. As it relates to an “organized program of study,” the Clery Handbook indicates that this phrase means the location offers courses in educational programs leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized credential. In informal conversations with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) via its Clery help desk, it was confirmed that ED interprets “courses” in this context to mean “more than one course.” In other words, if a location holds more than one course leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized credential, it has an organized program of study. In addition, the Clery Handbook provides that meeting the “one administrator on site” prong is satisfied by an administrator being on-site once per week (i.e., a full-time administrator is not required).

Why does it matter if a location is a separate campus? Unlike with noncampus property, for which an institution mainly needs to concern itself with disclosing crime statistics, a separate campus designation compels that campus to independently comply with all Clery Act requirements, including publishing its own Annual Security Report.

What this means for you

Be sure you have appropriately classified your noncontiguous locations (including foreign locations) as separate campuses if they meet the definition from earlier in this post. Failure to do so will inevitably result in findings if subject to a Clery program review, as you will have neglected to track and disclose statistics or publish statements of policy, procedure and programming for that location. There could be serious consequences for such omissions.