November 13, 2002

Colleges Respond to New Sex Crimes Act

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As of Oct. 28, officials at colleges and universities across the nation face new regulations concerning convicted sex offenders on campus.

According to a U.S. Department of Education release, the Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act, which became effective last month, aims to insure that students, faculty and staff receive notice about sex offenders who work or study on campus.

Public Information

The Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act, originally passed in October of 2000, amends the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, making it clear that records of sex offenses can be made public.

The law also extends the Cleary Act, mandating that information on sex offenders be added to the crime statistics released by campus police departments annually.

The methods of compliance with this new law differ between individual schools.

At Cornell, interested individuals can follow a hot-link on the Cornell Police website to a searchable database of the New York State Sex Offender registry.

A search of the online registry, listing the names and details of convicts classified as high risk for re-offending, found nine individuals residing in Tompkins County. None of the individuals listed on the registry appear affiliated with the University.

However, beyond the website link, the University does not regulate the role of sex offenders on campus, if an individual were to work or study in the community.

“We don’t have additional strictures on sex offenders,” said Linda Grace-Kobas, director of the Cornell University News Service.

Other colleges employ stricter policies.

At Binghamton University, students, faculty and staff can view an online list of sex offenders enrolled or employed at the university. The university police force maintains the website.

Currently there are no sex offenders listed, but a convicted individual joining the campus community would be identified by name on the website, according to Katie Ellis, Binghamton University Media Relations Director.


The procedure at University of Albany is identical. Their list, also located on the campus police website, remains empty to date.

According to Barbara Westbrook, campus attorney for Binghamton University, there is no automatic disqualification for admission or for employment due to one’s status as a sex offender. However, she noted that potential employees and prospective students are asked if they have been convicted of a felony during the application process. Officials evaluate those who respond yes on a case by case basis.

For student applicants, a special committee exists at Binghamton, said Westbrook, who look at individual applicants to determine if they pose a danger to the campus community. Sex offenders would be among this group, and thus could be weeded out before admission if they seemed to pose a threat.

Archived article by Michael Dickstein