SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The state of Utah released the university police audit showing deficiencies in the crime reporting of seven Utah schools, including the University of Utah.
The Clery Act requires universities to assess potential threats and issue warnings to staff and students. It also requires universities to track and report certain crime statistics.
The audit highlighted several incidents at the University of Utah.
In one incident, a student allegedly reported being threatened with a weapon by a roommate. According to the report, that information was not relayed to U of U police for almost 24 hours.
In another, police learned of a potential hate crime through a social media post, over three and a half months after it was reported to U of U housing personnel. The auditors suggested two recommendations specific to the U, including streamlining reporting pathways and evaluating safety staff training.
U of U chief safety officer Keith Squires said he welcomes the review.
“While the University of Utah continues to invest in safety enhancements and innovations, this analysis is a timely reminder of how important it is to regularly review and improve our safety operations on campus,” said Squires.
Unsafe U, an organization that raises awareness of safety issues at the U, released the following statement:
“While there are many concerns raised in this legislative audit, we are particularly concerned about two themes: the demonstrated lack of oversight for safety accountability data across USHE institutions and the failure to correct basic issues identified in the Lauren McCluskey investigation.
It’s encouraging that USHE concurs with these recommendations. It’s unclear what actionable and concrete steps that USHE will take to move institutions into compliance (especially with regard to data reporting). We hope the USHE Board of Higher Education takes these recommendations on and that there is an ongoing conversation with clear timelines and deliverables throughout this upcoming year.
We are concerned that this report gives a lot of deference to institutions to fix their own problems. As this report highlights, institutions have shown that they cannot really be trusted to govern themselves on matters of campus safety. The state and USHE really need to take a more active role in leading conversations and pushing institutions to move beyond the status quo in their safety structures. The conditions of institutional mismanagement combined with a culture of gendered violence in Utah is the perfect storm for another tragedy.
We would also like to address the fact that there is an assumption in the narrative of this report that students don’t trust police on campuses. This is largely true and the implicit recommendation in the report to improve outreach and communication is misguided and frankly, dangerous. Students should absolutely not trust institutions or their campus policing agencies unless those institutions can produce data and show actionable, evidence-based change in policies and procedures. This isn’t a “PR issue” or communications issue– it’s reflective of substantial breakdowns to accountability, transparency, and resources on campuses to address safety problems.”