Contextualizing the 1990 campus security act and campus sexual assault in intersectional and historical terms

Published date09 April 2018
Date09 April 2018
AuthorRebecca Dolinsky Graham,Amanda Konradi
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression, conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology, policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
Contextualizing the 1990 campus security
act and campus sexual assault in
intersectional and historical terms
Rebecca Dolinsky Graham and Amanda Konradi
Purpose Residential college campuses remain dangerous especially for women students who face a
persistent threat of sexual violence, despite passage of the 1990 Campus Security Act and its multiple
amendments. Campuses have developed new programming, yet recent research confirms one in five
women will experience some form of sexual assault before graduating. Research on campus crime legislation
does not describe in detail the context in which it developed. The purpose of this paper is to draw attentionto
the effects of early rhetorical frames on the ineffective policy.
Design/methodology/approach The authors discuss the rhetorical construction of campus crime,and
related criminalsand victims,through content analysis and a close interpretive reading of related
newspaper articles.
Findings The 1986 violent rape and murder of Jeanne Clery at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania became
iconic in media descriptions of campus crime. Media drew attention to the racial and classed dimensions of
the attack on Clery, but elided the misogyny central to all sexual assaults. This reinforced a stereotype that
insiderson campuses, primarily white and middle class, were most vulnerable to outsiderattacks by
persons of color. Colleges and universities adopted rhetoric of endangermentand unreasonand focused
on what potential victims could do to protect themselves, ignoring the role of students in perpetrating crime.
Research limitations/implications This analysis does not link rhetoric in newspapers to legislative
discussion. Further analysis is necessary to confirm the impact of particular claims and to understand why
some claims may have superseded others.
Originality/value This analysis focuses critical attention on how campus crime policy is shaped by
cultural frames.
Keywords Claims, Social problems, Campus crime, Clery Act, Racial projects, Racialization
Paper type Research paper
In November 1990, the bipartisan-supportedStudent Right-to-Know and Campus SecurityAct
(S.580, 1990) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.
Renamed the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics
Actin 1998, the federallegislation required higher educationinstitutions receiving federal student
aid to prepare,publish, and distribute to all currentstudents and employees, and to any applicant
for enrollment or employment upon request, an annual report containing specified types of
information with respect to its campus security policies and campus crime statistics.
The legislation has been amended numerous times since its inception, with amendments
attentive to campus sexual assault (Shafer, 2007)[1].
The Campus Security Act (hereafter CSA1990) upholds the memory of Jeanne Ann Clery,
a white Lehigh University student who was raped and murdered in her dorm room in 1986 by
Josoph Henry, a black Lehigh student who was living off campus. The rape and murder of Clery
was horrifying, but it did not represent campus crime generally (which is typically non-violent)
(Sloan and Fisher, 2011) or sexual assault specifically (survivors and perpetrators typically know
Received 4 May 2017
Revised 28 July 2017
Accepted 13 September 2017
The authors would like to thank
Dr Janine Holc and Dr Martin
Camper for their thoughtful
feedback on previous drafts of this
paper, which helped us focus the
Rebecca Dolinsky Graham is
an Instructional Consultant
at the Center for the
Advancement of Learning,
University of the District of
Columbia, Washington,
District of Columbia, USA.
Amanda Konradi is an
Assistant Professor at the
Department of Sociology,
Loyola University Maryland,
Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-05-2017-0284 VOL. 10 NO. 2 2018, pp.93-102, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599
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