Campus Safety

Liberty University Faces $14M Fine for Violation of Federal Campus Crime-Reporting Law

National news reports that the U.S. Department of Education has fined Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., a record $14 million for failure to comply with a federal campus crime-reporting law. An investigation uncovered multiple violations of the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to record and distribute information about campus crimes and other potentially dangerous situations.

According to a more than 100-page report by the department, the university demonstrated “serious, persistent, and systemic violations” between 2016 and 2023. “The report says the college discouraged students from reporting crimes, did not adequately respond to incidents of sexual violence, failed to tell the campus about criminal activities or dangerous situations (such as gas leaks), and did not maintain an accurate or complete list of crimes,” NPR reports.

The resulting $14-million fine is the largest Clery Act settlement to date, national news reports. Michigan State University was fined $4.5 million in 2019, and the University of California, Berkeley, was fined $2.35 million in 2020. The terms of the settlement also dictate that Liberty must spend $2 million on campus safety improvements during a two-year federal monitoring period ending in April 2026.

Richard Cordray, the Education Department’s Federal Student Aid Office Chief Operating Officer said that university administrators have acknowledged almost all of the violations included in the report. “Students, faculty, and staff deserve to know that they can be safe and secure in their school communities. We respond aggressively to complaints about campus safety and security.”

The university released a statement saying that it remains “firmly committed to Clery Act compliance and the safety and security of our students and staff without exception…While the university maintains that we have repeatedly endured selective and unfair treatment by the Department, the university also concurs there were numerous deficiencies that existed in the past. We acknowledge and regret these past failures and have taken these necessary improvements seriously.”

The school maintains that it has spent more than $10 million since 2022 to improve safety on campus.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].