FROM THE PRESIDENT
The following is updated from a memorandum Dr. Rodin sent Monday, February 9, to the leadership of the Faculty Senate, the University Trustees, and other members of the University. The full report can be found at www.upenn.edu/almanac/between/fullreport.html.
On Crime Reporting: The Federal Findings and Penn's Response
I write to inform you that we have received the report of the U.S. Department of Education ("DOE") based on its review of the University's compliance with the federal law that requires annual reporting of crimes on campus. As you may recall, we have been expecting this report since October 1997, when DOE staff left campus after spending several months reviewing records kept by our Division of Public Safety, interviewing campus officials, and reviewing our crime reporting procedures.
The findings identify several areas in which DOE believes the University needs to improve, as I will summarize below. The areas are specific and limitedthe findings are not in any way an indictment of our crime reporting.
The DOE review for the calendar years 1994, 1995 and 1996 found absolutely no evidence that the University was "hiding" or "distorting" campus crime. Significantly, the findings explicitly acknowledges "no instances of noncompliance with the Campus Security Report disclosure requirements as a result of the University's application of the Federal definition of `campus'." This conclusion directly rebuts the allegation made by The Philadelphia Inquirer more than a year ago that prompted the DOE reviewthat Penn too narrowly defined its "campus" and, thereby, avoided reporting a number of crimes that occurred on the city streets patrolled by University police as a supplement to Philadelphia Police Department patrols.
The following are the specific DOE findings and its recommended action:
Finding #1: Hate crime statistics are not included in the Campus Security Report.
Summary: We are required to report statistics for certain Uniform Crime Report (UCR) classificationsmurder, forcible rape, aggravated assaultthat "manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity." During the three-year period under review, there was no incidence of "hate crimes" at Penn in these classifications, and our annual reports included nothing on hate crimes. The DOE wants the University to note explicitly the absence [or presence, should it become applicable] of hate crimes; we will amend our reports to do so and ensure that they are appropriately distributed.
Finding #2: Failure to report specific incidents.
Summary: The University failed to include in its 1994 statistics an alleged rape that was reported to the Director of Victim Support and Special Services in November 1994. This unintentional omission came to our attention some months ago. The DOE recommends that we correct our 1994 crime statistics to reflect the addition of this incident four years ago. We have corrected our pamphlet and will ensure that the revised reportwhich will now show a single alleged rape in that calendar yearis appropriately distributed.
In addition, the DOE found that Penn did not report Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board citations issued for underage drinking to eight Penn students during Spring Fling in April 1996. The DOE has directed us to amend our 1996 Campus Security Report to reflect these incidents; we will do so and ensure that the report is appropriately distributed.
Finding #3: Failure to complete separate statistics for separate campuses.
Summary: The University did not publish separate campus security statistics for its non-contiguous geographic locationsspecifically, New Bolton Center, the University Boathouse, Morris Arboretum, Flower and Cook Observatory and Wharton Sinkler Conference Center. These properties are located as far as 32 miles from our West Philadelphia campus, and they experience virtually no serious crime; nevertheless, the DOE wants Penn to list these locations separately in Penn's annual reports, and we will do so in the future.
Finding #4: Failure to include statistics for all campus locations.
Summary: Penn's annual reports for 1994-1996 did not include statistics for all campus locations, most specifically, the Hospital of the University ("HUP"). The DOE has directed that we include these statistics in our annual reporting. We will do so in the future, and we will amend our past reports to reflect the appropriate statistics and ensure that they are appropriately distributed.
Finding #5: Failure to notify all prospective students of the availability of the Campus Security Report.
Summary: The DOE does not specify exactly how colleges and universities should disseminate information to prospective students, but it has indicated its preference that we improve our notification. Penn does notify prospective students of the availability of our campus crime statistics in a variety of ways. Many of our schools made this notification on the World Wide Web; others combine written notification with the World Wide Web. In 1997, in addition, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions sent a letter to about 73,000 prospective applicants, indicating that the statistical information was available on our web site or by calling the Division of Public Safety; it also sent the pamphlet, "Campus Safety and Security: A Shared Responsibility," to 15,160 applicants for undergraduate admission.
As a matter of principle, we disagree with the premise that using the World Wide Web is not a reasonable notification method. Thousands of our students and prospective students use it daily to learn about the University. The DOE has indicated its preference, however, that notification be included in printed student recruitment literature, and we will do so in the future as these publications are reprinted.
Finding #6: Failure to provide the Campus Security Report to all current students.
Summary: The DOE found that the University did not provide a copy of each annual crime report to all current students. In fact, the complete text of each report was published in Almanac and remains available on the web, but the DOE wants Penn to disseminate the information in printed form to all current students, faculty and staff. So we will do so.