By Emily Walker, Olivia McKelvey, Kevin Boodoosingh
Soon after The Crimson published two pieces regarding violations of the Clery Act involving rape and stalking, T. Dwayne McCay, Florida Tech’s president, released a statement in response to how the university has been handling the matter.
In an email to The Crimson, McCay stated, “Florida Tech takes very seriously all issues related to campus and student safety. Accuracy matters. Several months ago, the university became concerned that some crime data was being improperly interpreted and recorded. A new position of compliance and risk manager was created in part to address this concern. A comprehensive internal review of all crime data for the past three years is ongoing, and when complete, the university will pursue the mechanisms available under the Clery Act to report corrected data.”
According to the Clery Act, federally funded universities must release a report regarding statistics of crime on and around campuses for the past three years. This report is to be released on Oct. 1 of every year.
On Sept. 27, Barry Cobb, assistant director for Security, distributed Florida Tech’s 2019 Annual Security Fire and Safety Reports via email to students, staff and faculty.
Two anonymous students have come forward since the report came out and said they were raped in 2017 and 2018 and reported through Title IX and Security. Under the sexual offenses category of Florida Tech’s 2019 Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports, there were zero instances of rape cited for the past three years.
An instance of stalking was also found on a 2018 crime log. This particular report of stalking was also not cited within Florida Tech’s 2019 Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports, as the category of stalking was marked zero from 2016 through 2018.
When asked if the university knew about the inaccuracy of the 2019 Clery data prior to the release of the 2019 Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports, McCay stated in an email, “It was not ‘discovered’ in time to modify the Sept. 27 report, which was for 2018. We began immediately to try to understand the disconnect and work backwards through all the data. We thought reporting was being done correctly. It was apparently not enough time to get the 2018 data reviewed.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education, reporting inaccurate numbers on a Clery report goes in violation of the Clery Act. As of February 2019, the National Association of Clery Compliance officers and professional stated that the U.S. Department of Education can impose $57,317 per Clery Act violation.
Such inaccuracies that have been found include two cases of rape and one case of stalking, all of which occurred between 2017 and 2018. These incidents were all cited as zero within Florida Tech’s 2019 Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports.
McCay stated that the university is going to partner with an outside consultant to “ensure the review is comprehensive and transparent.” He went on to say that when the review is complete, the university will “pursue the mechanisms available under the Clery Act to report corrected data.”
At this time, it is unknown who the outside consultant is that is expected to partner with the university to investigate this subject matter.
The press secretary for the Student Government Association, Buse Dayioglu, released a statement that emphasized the importance of student voices and the protection of their rights.
“We would like to take this time to remind the students who have been affected, either during these unreported events or for future events, that you are not alone in this process, and as the voice of the students we will do our best to protect your rights and well-being,” Dayioglu wrote in SGA’s press release.
Jace Petrowski, the president of SGA, said that SGA was unaware of the inaccurate data prior to The Crimson’s article.
McCay stated that the university’s internal investigation is “active and far from complete.”
The president declined to directly address certain follow-up questions, citing that the investigation is “ongoing.” He agreed to meet with The Crimson next week after Thanksgiving break to discuss the details further.
Please continue to check The Crimson’s website, Facebook and Instagram to stay updated. This story is ongoing.