The Department of Education Fined Liberty University $14 million for failing to Adhere to Campus Safety Standards

Liberty University (LU) faced the largest fine ever imposed for violating the Clery Act, a federal law pertaining to campus safety standards. The Department of Education (ED) issued a $14 million fine to LU over violations of federally mandated campus safety standards.

The ED, in a press release on Tuesday, announced that the Office of Federal Student Aid imposed the fine on LU as part of a settlement agreement concerning “material and ongoing violations of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act),” including issues related to published crime statistics and the treatment of sexual assault survivors.

“Students, faculty, and staff deserve assurance that they can feel safe and secure within their school communities. We take complaints about campus safety and security seriously,” stated Richard Cordray, Chief Operating Officer of the Federal Student Aid (FSA).

“Under the Clery Act, schools are required to take measures to foster safe and secure campus environments, investigate complaints, and transparently disclose information regarding crimes and safety issues. We will persist in holding schools accountable if they neglect these responsibilities.”

The fine imposed on Liberty University is the largest ever for violating the Clery Act.

Colleges enrolled in federal financial aid programs are obligated to maintain and disclose crime statistics along with other pertinent information regarding campus safety. In the academic year 2020-2021, Liberty University received $874 million in student loans and grants from the Education Department (ED).

As a component of the settlement, Liberty University, recognized as the most prominent Christian university in the U.S., has committed to allocating “$2 million over the next two years towards on-campus safety enhancements and compliance improvements.” Additionally, an external accounting firm will oversee the implementation and progress of these measures.

The ED released multiple findings from a “program review” initiated in February 2022 to assess Liberty University’s adherence to the Clery Act. According to the ED, this announcement came subsequent to receiving numerous complaints alleging that the university had consistently violated the Clery Act.

One notable discovery was the lack of administrative capability, indicating that Liberty University had neglected to take necessary steps to fulfill Clery Act standards from 2016 to 2023. Additionally, in failing to implement measures addressing sexual violence prevention and response as mandated by the Clery Act, the ED reported that Liberty University had not complied with the requirements of the Violence Against Women Act.

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