Officials from the U.S. Department of Education are considering sanctions or fines against the University of Northern Iowa after a review found the Cedar Falls school to be in violation of four federal regulations about campus safety and crime reporting. The school mistakenly reported 40 liquor law violations on campus in 2007 when the actual number of violations was 407.
Regulators also say that the school did not properly inform students and employees about how to obtain the school’s annual crime reports for 2006 and 2007. U.N.I. was also found to be in violation of two other regulations: One that requires the school to provide information about how students would be warned of an emergency and another that dictates notification of both accusers and suspects in sexual assault cases that they are allowed to have advocates at disciplinary hearings.
U.N.I. Public Safety Director David Zarifis says that the reporting process can be complicated, depending on how an individual school’s policies line up with local laws.
Zarifis says disciplinary referrals for alcohol, are not reported if there is an arrest made, that is reported under arrests. And he says it is not reported if it is a policy violation versus a legal violation, so he says it “gets somewhat complicated when you look at compiling these numbers.”
According to Zarifis, U.N.I. has adjusted their process for filing reports to the Department of Education since the 2007 audit. He says that not only has the school been compliant in their reporting for the past couple years, but he’s confident they will avoid the issues that had them in violation of the federal regulations.
He says they now have two people who are involved in the auditing and they meet with the residence department and go through the whole list and feel they are doing a good job since the audit. The Public Safety Department was in the process of changing offices in 2007 as a result of the fire at U.N.I.’s Gilchrist Hall, but Zarifis says that does not excuse their failures.
Zarifis says there were some things that were not done and he takes responsibility for that and will not use the move as an excuse. A final review by the Department of Education will determine what disciplinary action will be taken against U.N.I. Zarifis says he’s not sure when that process will be complete.
By Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls