By Russell Hixson
STILLWATER, Okla. —
An audit conducted by the Department of Education in 2009 has determined Oklahoma State University violated crime statistics transparency laws.
The audit, which concerned 2008 crime records, was completed in 2011. Findings were recently released.
According to the report’s findings, the school failed to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. The act is a federal statute requiring public colleges and universities to maintain and disclose campus crime statistics and security information.
The audit was not in response to any specific incident. The university was selected from a list of institutions.
The university lacked information in its annual security report policy statements, improperly classified crimes and failed to report crimes committed on off-campus property associated with the school.
Officials responded to each of the report’s findings by updating their records and modifying procedures. However, the school contends that it believes it has always been in compliance with the statute. The investigators considered all the violations resolved and were satisfied with the university’s responses and actions.
“Audits are a normal occurrence and OSU welcomes review of its activities, particularly when it comes to making our campus as safe as possible,” said OSU spokesman Gary Shutt. “In this instance, regarding incidents nearly five years ago, the Department of Education found in each of the three cases cited that OSU’s response and modifications were satisfactory and the matters were resolved.”
Department of Education findings
Lack of adequate policy statements
A Department of Education report states Oklahoma State University did not include in its annual security report a list of officials and organizations that students and employees can contact to report crimes. The investigation also found the university did not have a list of procedures that encourage pastors and counselors to talk to clients about reporting clients.
OSU reponse: The university believes it was in compliance. In its response OSU states that it included a list of organizations. The school did not have a specific policy for encouraging pastors and counselors to talk to clients about reporting crimes to authorities but it claims they were told to do so.
The university has changed its 2008 records to reflect the investigator's recommendations as officials stated they is using the review as a chance to improve.
Failure to properly classify crimes
The report states the university misidentified a sex offense as a burglary. Both crimes were part of the same incident. However, schools are required to identify multiple crime incidents by the most serious crime.
OSU response: The university stated this was a clerical error. Police conducted a review and made corrections. Review procedures have also been changed to detect these kinds of errors in the future.
Failure to report crimes for non-campus property
The reported showed 13 locations associated with the university that did not have crime data on the school's annual report as required by the statute.
OSU response: University officials stated it did not consider some of the locations as campuses or contiguous to the main Stillwater campus. The remaining locations were not under OSU’s control and did not result in certification or a degree. The school reviewed its procedures for classifying locations.