/ Campus Safety

Timely Warnings

A timely warning is a communication that Hope College issues when certain criminal incidents occur on campus that represents a serious or continuing threat to the person and well-being of students and employees.

Timely warnings are required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, often called “The Clery Act.” The intent of a Clery timely warning is to aid in the prevention of similar crimes by alerting the campus community and thereby enabling community members to take necessary precautions.

The Clery Act requires higher education institutions to report statistics on certain crimes, which are referred to as “Clery Act crimes.” A timely warning is issued when the college determines that a Clery Act crime has been committed and presents a serious or continuing threat to the campus community. Examples include:

  • Criminal homicide
  • Sex offenses
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Burglaries (occupied rooms/offices/structures)
  • Hate crimes
  • Persons with weapons with intent to use

For a timely warning to be issued, the crime must have been reported to a campus security authority — such as Campus Safety or an official with significant responsibility for student and campus activities, such as the dean of students — or local police. It also must have occurred on campus, on immediately accessible public property or at a college-affiliated location.

Decisions to issue a timely warning are decided on a case-by-case basis in light of all the facts surrounding the crime and the continuing danger to the campus community. The Clery Act does not define what is “timely.” The college issues warnings promptly, as soon as clear, pertinent information is available so that members of the campus community may take precautionary measures.

Generally, the warning will specify the type of crime reported, the time and location at which the crime occurred, and specific advice to the campus community regarding steps to take to avoid becoming a victim. If the suspect has not been identified, the warning also will include a description of the suspect(s), based on police reports.

After an incident, we often get requests to share more about what happened. The purpose of a timely warning is to provide information that will allow members of the campus community to make informed decisions about ensuring personal safety. To protect all those involved in the case, we share only as many details as are needed to promote safety. Often, the incident will be an open police investigation. As a matter of policy, the college does not comment or share details about a case under active investigation.

Crimes that would otherwise be reportable but are reported to a licensed mental health counselor or pastoral counselor — in the context of a privileged (confidential) communication — are not subject to the timely warning requirement. A warning will not be issued if an incident has occurred but the threat has been removed. If, for example, a Clery Act crime has been committed and the suspect has been taken into custody, the college need not issue a timely warning; in such a case, however, the college may still choose to issue a communication in an effort to broaden awareness or dispel inaccurate rumors.

Safety tips

We never wish to imply that the victim is at fault when issuing safety tips, and we aim to use language that reinforces this. Because the goal of a Clery timely warning is to promote safety, we will typically include safety tips in the communication. Prioritizing one's personal safety is always a good idea. Risk of attack by a stranger may be reduced by:

  • Being aware of your surroundings and looking assertive
  • Using the buddy system and walking with a trusted friend or coworker, especially after dark
  • Trusting your intuition — if a particular situation makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, choose an alternative
  • Utilizing campus transportation resources
  • Using a blue light emergency phone or calling 911 from any phone if you feel threatened on campus.

Frequency of NOtifications

The Clery Act requirements have not changed recently. Thanks to better prevention training and a broad national conversation about sexual assault, there is increased awareness about Clery Act crimes. At Hope College, we have also strengthened bystander intervention training for students. These factors may result in increased reporting of crimes, and increased reporting potentially leads to increased timely warnings, which we hope are helpful in preventing crime and promoting public safety. We realize that increased communication can also generate heightened anxiety on campus, but this is not our intent. Rather, we wish to empower the campus community with information.

Confidential resources

If the Clery timely warnings trigger a need for confidential personal support, don't hesitate to contact a confidential resource.

A number of trained individuals on campus can speak with you confidentially with no obligation to file a report with the Title IX Coordinator or Campus Safety. They will not share your information unless you ask them to do so. They are available to listen, offer support, discuss options and connect you to other resources. These on-campus Confidential Resources include:

In addition, the following off-campus resource is available:

  • Center for Women in Transition (CWIT): 24-hour confidential support crisis line (616.392.1970). CWIT is located at 411 Butternut Drive, Holland, MI 49424.