Answers to Questions about UT’s Safety Notices Regarding Reports of Sexual Assault

What are Safety Notices?

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires the university to alert the campus community to certain crimes in a timely manner to aid in the prevention of similar crimes. The Clery Act calls these alerts “timely warnings.” The university calls these alerts “Safety Notices.”

When are Safety Notices issued?

UT Police Department issues a Safety Notice under the following conditions:

  • A Clery Act crime is reported to the UT Police Department either directly to the department or indirectly through a report to a Campus Security Authority or a local law enforcement authority.
  • The crime occurred on the university’s Clery Act geography (i.e., on campus, in or on a non-campus building or property in use or controlled by the university, or on public property immediately adjacent to and accessible from campus).
  • UT Police considers the report to represent a serious or continuing threat to UT students and employees.

Clery Act crimes for which Safety Notices may be issued include:

  • Forcible sex offenses: forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling
  • Non-forcible sex offenses: incest and statutory rape

The chief of UT Police Department or his designee decides when to issue a safety notice on a case-by-case basis and in light of all the facts known about the crime. These include the nature of the crime and whether university students and employees are at risk for becoming victims of a similar crime.

Through what methods are Safety Notices issued?

UTPD issues Safety Notices by sending e-mail to all UT students and employees. Police may also share the same information by distributing or posting fliers at or near the location of the incident and by posting notices to UTPD’s website, and UTPD’s social media accounts – Facebook and Twitter.

Who determines the content of a Safety Notice?

The UTPD determines the content of the notice. A Safety Notice will contain sufficient information about an incident so that people can protect themselves or their property and aid in the prevention of similar crimes. Such information generally will include (1) a brief description of the incident; (2) the general location, date, and time of the incident; (3) a description of the suspect, if a sufficient amount of detail is known about the suspect, which may include a composite drawing or photograph of the suspect; (4) a description of injuries or the use of force, if relevant; (5) a description of the incident’s possible connection to other incidents; (6) suggested measures that university students and employees can take to help protect themselves or their property; and (7) contact information for UTPD and other instructions for the campus community. Safety Notices will not include information that, in the judgment of the chief of UTPD or his designee, would compromise law enforcement efforts. A Safety Notice will not include the name or other identifying information about a victim of a crime.

Safety Notices may include explicit language in describing the nature of the crime that was reported. UTPD includes the official name of the Clery Act crime that was reported to UTPD. Definitions of Clery Act crimes can be found on pages 2 and 3 of the Campus Security Authority Incident Report Form. Clery Act crime definitions may differ from Tennessee law.

Why am I getting more Safety Notices about reports of sexual assault this semester? Are there actually more incidents happening?

Studies show that sexual violence is one of the most underreported crimes on every college campus. This semester, UTPD has issued Safety Notices concerning sexual assault. Our hope is that the increase in reports of sexual assaults is the result of increased awareness about sexual assault and reporting options.

Some of the Safety Notices mention that the incident was reported to a Campus Security Authority. What is a Campus Security Authority or CSA?

“Campus Security Authority” is a term used by the Clery Act that (in addition to UTPD staff) encompasses the following groups of individuals associated with the university:

  • Any individuals (other than UTPD) who have responsibility for campus security (e.g., an individual who is responsible for monitoring the entrance to a university facility)
  • An individual specified in the university’s annual security report as an individual to whom students and employees should report criminal offenses
  • A university official who has significant responsibility for student and campus activities.

A Campus Security Authority must report to UTPD all allegations of Clery Act crimes that he/she concludes were made in good faith. A CSA is not responsible for determining authoritatively whether a crime took place or apprehending an alleged perpetrator.

UT has identified approximately 700 CSAs who are trained to report Clery Act crimes to UTPD by using a specific online form. CSAs include professional staff in Student Life, faculty or staff advisors to student organizations, resident assistants and residence hall directors, persons who monitor access to residence halls or other facilities, coaches, and contract security officers and event security staff.

Is a UT Alert different than a Safety Notice?

Yes. If there is an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on campus, the university will follow its emergency response and evacuation procedures. The university utilizes multiple methods to notify the campus community of emergency situations. UT Alert text and e-mail messages are one of the primary methods of notifying the campus community about serious emergencies, ongoing situations or disruptions to normal operations on campus in a timely manner. Once students, faculty, or staff sign up to receive UT Alerts they begin receiving text messages through their mobile device. UT Alert subscribers can also sign up to receive the same UT Alert messages through their UT e-mail account. Students, staff, and faculty can register to receive UT Alert messages at utk.edu/utalert. Examples of situations in which a UT Alert likely will be issued include a building fire; a hazardous material spill or leak impacting a large area, a severe weather related threat, or an active shooter.

A Safety Notice e-mail message will not always be issued based on the same circumstances that prompt a UT Alert to be sent. However, follow-up information will be disseminated to the campus community through the university e-mail system as needed.

How do I make a report of sexual assault?

The best place for information about how to report a sexual assault or how to obtain other support is sexualassault.utk.edu. Generally, students may report a sexual assault to the Sexual Assault Response Team (865-974-HELP), the Title IX coordinator (865-974-2498), or UTPD (865-974-3111).

How is the university enhancing awareness of sexual violence and misconduct?

Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek and Police Chief Troy Lane have emphasized their commitment to doing everything the university can do to combat sexual violence.

The university has brought all of the campus resources and interim policy to one website. Our goal is to make reporting easier and ensure that students, faculty, and staff have access to reporting options, complaint procedures, and information on the university’s role in preventing and responding to and investigating reports of sexual misconduct. A task force is being appointed to review the interim policy. The interim policy is in effect until a permanent version of the policy is issued.

UTPD is involved in new training efforts in dealing with survivors of sexual assault. UTPD has created partnerships with new numerous organizations inside and outside of the university. Additional training is also being provided to CSAs. All faculty and staff have also been encouraged to become more informed about the interim policy and resources and will be offered additional training in the future.

What if I have questions?

Questions about Safety Notices involving sexual violence should be directed to the UT Police Department at 865-974-3111. Questions about campus resources, the interim policy, and procedures should be directed to the campus Title IX coordinator, Jenny Richter. She can be reached at 865-974-2498 or by e-mailing oed@utk.edu.

For more information, visit these other resources:

UTPD’s Clery page

sexualassault.utk.edu (contains a link to a copy of the university’s interim policy on sexual misconduct and relationship violence)

The US Department of Education guidelines for campus safety and security