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Articles: Security

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigation of 55 colleges is leading to some changes in the way campuses handle sexual abuse reports.

The controversy over campus officials’ handling of sexual assault complaints may have reached a tipping point in May when the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights released a list of 55 colleges under investigation for possible violations of Title IX.

Then, 32 more schools were revealed as under investigation, though not for incidents directly related to sexual violence.

Swipe for entry: Florida State and other  campuses are moving toward all buildings,  not just dorms, requiring a card key for access.

As violent crime has steadily increased on college campuses in the last three decades, institutional leaders have reacted by creating more stringent policies to restrict visitors from entering their academic, administrative and residential buildings.

Electronic records are helping to solve storage problems for Rebecca Turner of Central New Mexico Community College, where 4,000 boxes of personnel files and other records must be retained for up to 55 years.

Around 4,000 boxes of paper records fill the shelves in Central New Mexico Community College’s storage area. And many of these boxes—those containing employee personnel files, for example—must remain in storage for up to 55 years before they can be destroyed.

It’s a big reason why CNMCC has embraced electronic records management, says Rebecca Turner, records and property control manager for the Albuquerque college.

President Obama recently established a task force to protect students from sexual assault. According to a White House Memorandum of January 22, 2014, one in five female students is a survivor of attempted or actual sexual assault that occurred while in college. The unfortunate and heartbreaking situation with University of Missouri swimmer, Sasha Menu Courey, has recently placed the issue of on- and off-campus sexual assault in the spot light. In 2010, Ms. Courey was allegedly raped by one or more members of the University’s football team.

Thanks to the use of image capturing verification processes,  students and graduates of Shenandoah U in Virginia need not worry about the accuracy of their electronic transcripts.

Despite the benefits of electronic document management systems, college and university compliance efforts can be undermined by faulty management.

Providers were asked to share their thoughts on what higher ed institutions aren’t paying enough attention to when it comes to compliance and electronic documents/records management. Here’s what they told us:

One way to determine if a visitor management program is successful is to measure whether it has reduced crime on campus.

Since the University of Southern California in 2012 enclosed its campus with fencing and shut down access to visitors each night, the number of thefts occurring between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. has dropped by nearly 50 percent, says David Carlisle, deputy chief at the university’s Department of Public Safety.

Darren Hayes, Computer Information Systems program chair at Pace University

Hackers are often portrayed in the media as pale skinned, basement dwelling lone wolves, creating nuisance viruses that disrupt networks. But Darren Hayes, Computer Information Systems program chair at Pace University, says times are changing. “These people are rapidly being replaced by sophisticated government-backed infiltrators and criminal cyber-spy rings that can inflict far more damage than a Distributed Denial of Service that takes a network offline.”

Kristen Lombardi was lead journalist on the report, "Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice.”

In January, President Obama launched the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault to help colleges and universities combat what he called “the prevalence of rape and sexual assault at our nation’s institutions of higher education.” The announcement came as a growing number of young women have filed federal complaints against colleges around the country over the mishandling of sexual assault cases.

The September 11, 2001 attacks evoked a new era of national security and anxiety. The country responded with sweeping security measures that have sparked a growing concern over perceived violations of individual civil rights and liberties. This national debate surrounding the tension between national or organizational security and individual privacy can be especially complex when played out on one of the most widely recognized free speech forums: a university campus. Consider this hypothetical:

Meg Mott is a professor of political theory at Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vt.

Recently, the White House Council on Women and Girls issued a report pledging to “make our campuses safer” from sexual assault.

According to their research, “1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted while she’s in college,” a troubling statistic which the authors explain by “the dynamics of college life.” Female undergraduates, we are told, are abused while intoxicated by men whom they know in passing.

Leslie M. Gomez is a partner in the White Collar Litigation and Investigations Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton LLP.

A senior administrator recently described the issues related to sexual misconduct as a dormant volcano that lies beneath main administration buildings on campuses across the country. This is a sentiment echoed by many administrators committed to successfully responding to issues of sexual violence and harassment, but sometimes uncertain how to get there. With prevalence rates high and reporting rates low, colleges face challenges in designing and implementing effective responses. But an integrated institutional plan can help.

Newer campus security systems capitalize on the ubiquity of mobile devices.

Police officers at the University of South Florida sprung into action one afternoon last February when a text message flashed on a computer screen at the campus 911 operations center, alerting the dispatcher that a student had a .25-caliber pistol in his dorm room.

On college campuses, students are often reluctant to report a crime, whether it’s being committed by a fellow classmate or a stranger.

One way to combat this problem is for universities to train bystanders on the need to do something when a potential crime or suspicious activity occurs, says Middle Tennessee State University Police Chief Buddy Peaster.

The lock and key is going the way of the VCR. An electronic access control system is more convenient, efficient, and secure. Access control has become an indispensable part of an overall campus security plan.

Flood insurance subsidies for colleges and universities located in federally-designated flood zones ended on Oct. 1

An ocean view may make campus tours scenic, but when it comes to flood insurance, coastal institutions will soon face a deluge of bills. Flood insurance subsidies for colleges and universities located in federally-designated flood zones ended on Oct. 1, when the Biggert Waters Act went into effect.