Timely Warnings remain critical in advancing a culture of safety, awareness, and support at Virginia Tech
October 7, 2020
Virginia Tech strives to enhance safety and security for all those who learn, work, and innovate at the university.
Providing students and employees with timely access to critical campus crime and safety information is just one example of how Virginia Tech strives to achieve this mission. It is also required under the Clery Act.
What is the Clery Act?
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act, or Clery Act, obligates all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to:
1. Record and publish campus crime statistics. Specifically:
- A public annual security report with campus crime statistics for the preceding three calendar years and
- Daily Crime and Fire Logs.
2. Disseminate critical safety information through:
- Deployment of Timely Warnings for any Clery Act designated crimes that could present an ongoing threat to the safety and wellbeing of the campus community. At Virginia Tech these are the Crime Alert and Situational Awareness emails sent by the Virginia Tech Police Department.
- Deployment of Emergency Notifications. In the event of an immediate significant danger to the health or safety of the university (e.g. severe weather, bomb threat, disease outbreak), campus officials may issue an Emergency Notification. These have wider implications than Timely Warnings. At Virginia Tech, they are the VT Alerts sent across a multitude of communication channels.
3. Circulate policies and practices around reporting crimes, safety and security, rights and responsibilities of the university community, and more.
What is included in a Timely Warning?
When a Clery Act crime occurs on a Virginia Tech campus or property, university leaders will assess on a case-by-case basis whether it is a serious or ongoing threat to the safety and wellbeing of the campus community.
Examples of such crimes are aggravated assault, larceny, and sexual assaults, including forcible fondling and rape.
Considerations include the nature of the crime, level of a continuing threat, and whether law enforcement efforts would be compromised by the notification. As soon as enough pertinent details are available, a Timely Warning is issued.
Crimes that are not released as a Timely Warning are still available for public viewing on the Daily Crime Logs.
Timely Warning structure and resources
The Timely Warning email subject line usually includes “Crime Alert” or “Situational Awareness Alert.” The beginning of the email contains a brief description of the crime, date, and location of the crime, and other relevant details. Official Clery Act language follows.
Included next is the contact information for safety and support resources available to all members of the Virginia Tech community. These resources are a required component of the Timely Warning and may not directly relate to the specific crime covered within the alert.
These units work to deliver support and education in areas like dating and domestic violence prevention, addressing the campus culture around sexual harassment and violence, Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.), and trauma-informed support and advocacy. These organizations partner closely to best support university community members.
How do Timely Warnings help make Virginia Tech safer?
Even the most extensive safety and security initiatives and educational efforts cannot succeed without the awareness and cooperation of the community.
This is where Timely Warnings play a key role, according to Virginia Tech Police Chief Mac Babb.
“Timely Warnings are a critical tool in the university’s safety and crime prevention efforts," Babb said. "Along with providing a platform to deliver alerts around ongoing safety threats, they often empower victims to come forward and individuals to report similar crimes or incidents. Equally important, Timely Warnings help lift up the many outstanding support resources available to all Hokies.”
“Guided by Ut Prosim, all students and employees have a responsibility to help foster a culture of support and awareness at Virginia Tech,” said Katie Polidoro, director of Title IX compliance and Title IX coordinator.
“Timely Warnings remind us that no campus is immune to crime," Polidoro said. "Outfitted with the information and resources included in these notices, we can reaffirm our commitment to fellow Hokies in a myriad of ways — from staying cognizant of our surroundings, to reporting something that doesn’t feel right, to supporting a friend who has experienced violence.”
Additional questions around the Clery Act and Timely Warnings can be directed to Virginia Tech Police at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2020-21 annual notice on rights and responsibilities of the Virginia Tech community
- A message to students, faculty, and staff on campus safety and preparedness
- Virginia Tech Police shares important contact information for reporting an incident on campus