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College Increases Security After Rape and Murder

06/25/2007 -Eastern Michigan University says it will increase it's security on campus after it was revealed the school tried to cover up the rape and murder of a female student last year, reports Michigan's Ann Arbor News.

According to various media sources and an independent report, Laura Dickinson was found dead in her dorm room last December with a pillow over her face and naked below the waist. Her room was locked and her keys were missing. The university declared there was no foul play in the death and that Dickinson had died due to natural causes, even though the medical examiner found semen on her leg. Dickinson's parents buried her believing she had died due to a heart problem she recently developed.

The university's cover-up has led to national outrage.

On Fox News, Daniel Carter, senior vice president of the nonprofit organization Security on Campus, called for those university administrators responsible to be fired. "What needs to happen is, the people who are responsible need to lose their jobs. You know this should never have been allowed to happen and policies and procedures need to be put in place that will make sure it never does happen again."

The Washington Postreports that a commission charged with investigating the university's response has concluded that "school authorities withheld information, deceived the public and potentially violated a federal law designed to warn students of campus safety threats."

The Cleary Act, named after Lehigh University student Jeanne Cleary, who was raped and murdered in her dorm room in 1986, requires colleges and universities to disclose any crime committed on campus. The law ties campus crime reporting to federal student financial aid programs, so it applies to most public and private institutions of higher learning. The Department of Education is currently investigating whether the university violated the Cleary Act. If the university is found in violation of the Cleary Act, the Department of Education can find the institution up to $25,000.

The university will take 16 steps to improve campus security, according to the Ann Arbor News story, which include bi-weekly incident reports, mandatory Cleary Act reporting training for campus police officers, and a the development of "a formal crisis communications policy."

Fellow student Orange Amir Taylor has been charged with Dickinson's rape and murder and is awaiting trial.