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Liberty University’s record fine for safety violations: A wake-up call

Liberty University has agreed to pay a record $14 million fine for Clery Act violations, as the U.S. Department of Education reported. These violations include creating a culture of fear for sexual assault victims, failing to maintain accurate crime data, and demonstrating impaired administrative capability extending to campus police.

Liberty University has acknowledged the compliance deficiencies and committed to significant advancements in campus safety, including a $2 million allocation for new campus safety improvements.

Roys Report:

The ED’s report confirms a story that TRR previously published about a former student who claimed Liberty failed to report her gang rape in 2005. The student filed a complaint with a victim advocacy group. This led to an investigation by the ED and a settlement in 2014, requiring Liberty to pay a $120,000 fine.

The report also echoes TRR’s report on numerous women who alleged that Liberty created an unsafe environment that enabled on-campus rapes. The women filed a highly publicized class-action lawsuit against the school.

Sarah Mays, one of the plaintiffs who refused to settle with Liberty in the class-action suit, said she is grateful this fine forces some accountability for Liberty.

“This is just kind of the first time. . . that there’s irrefutable evidence and proof and someone actually holding their feet to the fire and holding them accountable,” she said. “You know 14 million is a drop in the bucket for them. I don’t think that they are worried about paying that fine at all.”

While Mays noted the $14 million fine is less than she hoped for them to pay, she’s glad Liberty will have to use an additional $2 million to directly support campus.

Read the full article.

Key Points

  • Liberty University has been fined $14 million for Clery Act violations, the largest fine issued by the Department of Education for such violations.
  • The university’s violations included failing to report accurate crime data and creating a culture that discouraged sexual assault victims from coming forward.
  • Liberty has committed to correcting these deficiencies and has already spent over $10 million on campus safety improvements.
Theme Pros Cons
Campus Safety Commitment to significant safety advancements. Past failures in maintaining a safe environment.
Accountability Liberty acknowledges past deficiencies. Fine is seen as minimal compared to the university’s resources.
Transparency Increased focus on accurate crime reporting. Historical lack of transparency around crime data.


Questions to Consider

  1. How will Liberty University’s acknowledgment and correction of Clery Act violations impact its campus culture moving forward?
  2. Can financial penalties alone ensure compliance and safety improvements in educational institutions?
  3. What additional measures should universities take to foster a safe environment for all students, particularly survivors of sexual assault?

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