At Emerson College, both community safety and communication are values at the heart of our civic and educational missions. At various times, the College alerts the community to events or issues of concern, including by sending safety messages to the College community. Some safety messages are required by law and follow specific timelines and protocols. Other safety messages may not be required by law, but are issued at the College’s discretion. The purpose of this page is to describe the types of safety messages and the circumstances in which the College will issue each one.
A federal law, the Clery Act, requires the College to issue messages that are officially called “Timely Warnings.” These are messages with information about specific crimes that occur within a geographic area defined by the Clery Act. The College issues Timely Warnings when there is a continuing danger to the campus community that has been reported to law enforcement officials. The intent of a Timely Warning is to enable people to protect themselves. If the continuing danger ends—for example, the perpetrator is apprehended—the College will not issue a Timely Warning. The College might still issue a discretionary safety message about the situation, however. Clery Act Timely Warning crimes are:
- Criminal Homicide
- Statutory Rape
- Aggravated Assault
- Motor Vehicle Theft
- Crimes motivated by discriminatory bias (Hate Crimes)
- Domestic Violence
- Dating Violence
- Arrests and Referrals for Disciplinary Action for:
- Weapons violations
- Drug abuse violations
- Liquor law violations
To recap: the College will issue Timely Warnings of these crimes only where there is a continuing danger to the campus community. If the continuing danger of a specified crime ends, the College will not issue a Timely Warning, but may elect to issue a discretionary Community Advisory (see below).
The Clery Act also requires the College to issue Emergency Notifications upon confirmation of a (1) significant emergency or dangerous situation that (2) involves an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees. The Emergency Notification may involve a criminal act that presents an immediate threat. The Emergency Notification can also involve other, non-criminal immediate threats, such as an approaching hurricane or other extreme weather condition, a hazardous materials release, a fire or explosion, or an armed intruder. The intent of an Emergency Notification is to inform people that an event is occurring or imminently threatening the campus to enable people to protect themselves. The College will issue an Emergency Notification even if the threat is not on or immediately adjacent to campus, if the situation nonetheless presents an immediate danger to the health or safety of students or employees.
From time to time the College may issue discretionary safety messages, called Community Advisories, even though there is no continuing danger of a criminal act or an immediate threat to health and safety. Criteria the College considers in deciding whether to issue a Community Advisory include, but are not limited to:
- Pattern of behavior. The College may issue a Community Advisory if there is a continuing pattern of behavior, such as sexual assaults, con artist scams or fraud, laptop or bicycle thefts, etc.
- Information or reassurance. The College may issue Community Advisories to inform or reassure the community after a threat or danger has passed, particularly if the threat or danger has triggered a Timely Warning or Emergency Notification.
- Advance notice. The College may issue Community Advisories in advance of events that might otherwise cause alarm, such as ceremonial gunfire or low-flying aircraft.
- Broad impact. The College may issue Community Advisories about events with the potential to affect a large segment of the campus community, such as street closures or significant interruption to public transportation.
In general, the College will consider proximity to the campus in making a decision whether circumstances warrant a Community Advisory. The College will also consider the impact of a Community Advisory on the privacy or reputation of individuals involved.
The College has an obligation to issue Timely Warnings for crimes motivated by discriminatory bias (Hate Crimes) that present a continuing danger to the campus community. The College may also issue discretionary messages about bias incidents, even if they do not involve criminal acts or present a continuing danger. The College may issue an informational message to the campus community when a bias incident has occurred with the potential to significantly affect campus climate. The Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion in consultation with the Bias Response Team will determine whether incidents warrant community notification.