CW: Discussions of crime
The afternoon of October 20, 2021 was partly cloudy, a normal day on Reed’s campus, but sometime between 1:30 and 5:00 p.m., the glass on the south-facing Farm House door was shattered in an apparent attempted burglary. Nothing was taken and no one was threatened — no one was even in Farm House to hear the glass break — but the threat of burglary had been established. Four days later, a community-wide email from Dhyana Westfall, a manager at Community Safety, alerted the campus of the incident. This timely warning was part of a procedure mandated by the Clery Act of 1990, a law that continues to shape campus security. Included in that law is the mandatory community-wide reporting of any crime that implies an ongoing threat like an attempted burglary. Additionally, the Clery Act mandates that colleges release yearly crime reports with statistics on the crimes committed on and off-campus. The Quest spoke with Director of Community Safety Gary Granger about the Clery Act and the work that Reed has been doing to assure crimes like the attempted burglary on Oct. 20 don’t plague our campus.
The Clery Act is named after Jeanne Clery, whose murder in 1986 led her parents to discover a series of crimes commited on-campus covered up by her university. The Clery act mandates three different types of reports: emergency notifications, timely warnings, and the annual crime report. Emergency notifications, in Granger’s words, are sent out if “a truck full of toxic gas crashes, and a cloud of that toxic gas is headed towards our campus.” If there is an immediate threat to the safety of those on campus, an emergency notification is sent out. Timely warnings are for when there is an ongoing threat but not necessarily an immediate one. Crimes like burglary or car theft trigger a timely warning, as they indicate a pattern of theft, and there is action the community can take to discourage them. The annual report, like the timely warnings and emergency notifications, is drafted through a number of Reed administration members, including several managers at Community Safety. Detailed in the report is a number of entries each mandated by specific points of the Clery act. When asked what he would change about the Clery Act if given the chance, Granger lamented that much of the annual report is tedious administrative work that “no one reads.” Reports generated by the college will always be sent out to the entire student body and are available online. Granger explained that reports act partially as negative reinforcement for colleges. Schools with more crime in their reports will get written about, often decreasing enrollment. As a result, colleges have to work to keep their campuses safe in a way that shows up on paper. Of course, reporting statistics on crime also keeps Reed accountable. For instance, one notable trend here at Reed has been a gradually increasing burglary rate which is consistent with climbing crime rates nationwide. One thing that all reports generated by the Clery Act do is remind the community that Reed’s campus isn’t perfectly safe and continues to be vulnerable to crime. When asked about crime at Reed, Granger admitted that the campus is particularly vulnerable, being a community with a high concentration of expensive goods and facilities. Granger explained that Reed continues to work to discourage crime on campus by making it more difficult. He emphasized improved sightlines on campus to areas vulnerable to burglary, and noted that it’s important to let Community Safety Officers know when someone’s presence on campus doesn’t feel right to you.
Unfortunately, we can likely anticipate more timely warnings in the future, as homicides and gun violence increase nationwide and the rate of burglaries on-campus has increased since 2018. Socioeconomically, Reed’s campus presents a unique bounty to individuals who want — or need — the goods inside. Part of the goal of the Clery Act is to indirectly decrease the amount of crime on campus as a result of actions taken by community members made aware of ongoing threats. And while there is little to be done to prevent some crime, like the smashed door at Farm House, the hope is that open communication with the Reed community will keep everyone on campus safe.