BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green State University failed to disclose all cases of campus-related crime in an annual report, a move that violated national disclosure laws, according to a complaint filed by a watchdog group.
Security On Campus, Inc., filed a complaint Friday with the U.S. Department of Education. The complaint asks the Education Department to investigate allegations that BGSU failed to include crimes reported to campus officials to other police agencies. The offense is a violation of the federal Jeanne Cleary Act, said officials of the nonprofit group based in King of Prussia, Pa.
Education Department spokeswoman Stephanie Babyak said the agency probably will investigate the complaint.
The nearly 17,000-student university is accused of failing to produce a complete annual crime report, said S. Daniel Carter, Security On Campus vice president.
“What we're basing our complaint on is student allegations and the materials that they put out,” he said. “We're simply asking the Department of Education to determine whether they are in violation. We have reason to believe that they are and obviously there is some student concern about it.”
The group files about five complaints a year against universities nationwide, Mr. Carter said. In Ohio, only Miami University has been charged.
The concerns were brought to the group's attention by BGSU sophomore Brian Small, 20, of Canton, O., who said he approached the group because there was talk about several violent crimes on campus that never made it to the police reports.
Though he could not confirm the crimes occurred, Mr. Small said the possibility that it had was enough for him to seek help.
“My hope is that the law is followed and that people are protected and safe,” the psychology major said. “I'm not here to shut the place down and ruin its good name. I just want to make the school safer.”
Mr. Small said he is involved in several public-safety committees and has first-hand knowledge of how crime is reported. He said he was not involved in the second complaint filed by Security On Campus, Inc., that alleges the university does not accurately report its hate-crime statistics. Although numbers of hate crimes are recorded, Mr. Carter said the type of crime and a listing of the targeted group are being left out of the statistics - another violation of the federal act.
BGSU spokeswoman Teri Sharp said the school was committed to compliance of the law and honest reporting of crime.
“The university takes reporting crime seriously,” she said, reading from a prepared statement. “Our statistics include crimes reported by non-police campus officials. Residence hall directors, resident assistants, and staff in student judicial affairs are trained annually to report crime to BGSU Public Safety.”
The university indicated it will review the manner in which hate-crime statistics are reported on the school's web site.