Increasing crime on UCSD's sprawling campus is dangerously under-policed and inadequately monitored, placing its students and faculty at growing risk for life-threatening incidents, not to mention stiff financial penalties from the federal government, based on the findings of an audit by the university’s audit and management advisory services department.
The audit calls out a series of deficiencies at the school related to compliance with the so-called Clery Act, the federal law requiring both public and private universities to track and report growing rates of campus crime, including rape, robberies, and homicides.
"Any area of non-compliance could result in putting the campus community's safety and security at risk in addition to fines of $35,000 per violation," says the audit, released this month.
The critique comes on the heels of the death this May of Ricardo “Ricky” Ambriz, a third-year Revelle College student majoring in computer science who was found in his Village East Tower dorm room hours after the drunken conclusion of the university’s Sun God Festival.
Alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses have plagued the event, leading chancellor Pradeep Khosla to set up a task force to deal with the problem while allowing the controversial annual music show to continue with few changes in campus enforcement policies. Details of the Ambriz death have yet to be released by UCSD.
"Full compliance with [the] Clery Act should be a top priority, and should be afforded the full resources it requires to meet that objective," according to the audit.
As it is, the report says, UCSD employs only a single worker in a low-ranking position that requires just 35 percent of the employee's time be devoted to Clery Act enforcement.
"The individual designated as the Clery Act Coordinator was also the Records and Property Manager within the [campus police department].
"In our opinion, the position requires full-time attention of at least one full-time [employee] in order to provide greater assurance that we comply with the growing [Clery] requirements."
Newly expanded federal reporting mandates, the report notes, will increase the workload further, including requirements for "separate crime statistic counting and reporting for domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking….
"While the UCSD Police Department has made effective use of its limited resources, the proliferation of mandated compliance requirements, growth in campus population, and increase in reportable incidents have created a need to increase the resources and scope of the Clery Coordinator."
UCSD sources long have maintained that top school administrators, concerned about the impact of negative events on the university’s costly public relations program, often find ways to avoid uncomfortable disclosures, a situation alluded to in the audit.
"It appears the scope of authority of the Clery Act Coordinator should be at a higher organizational level to compel campus-wide cooperation and compliance," the report says. "Cooperation is vital from students and part-time staff to the highest levels of campus management."
Federal law requires each university to designate staffers as so-called campus security authorities to report criminal incidents within their domains. But according to the audit, UCSD has somehow managed to lose track of many of those individuals and has failed to adequately train them for their roles.
"Due to resource constraints, annual job turnover, and size of the UCSD campus community, the Clery Act Coordinator has been unable to maintain a comprehensive current listing of all [campus security authorities] at UCSD.
"Further, the Clery Act Coordinator did not have the institutional authority to mandate that all identified CSAs attend the regularly offered Clery Act training sessions. As a result, numerous CSAs invited to the training did not attend."
Even the identification of university property for the purpose of mapping the location of crime incidents has been problematic at the vaunted high-tech school.
"The task of including all locations, particularly non-campus, has not been completed. Due to limited resources, the Clery Act Coordinator has been unable to update the list on a regular basis and has had difficulty relying on records maintained by Real Estate for determining non-campus Clery geography locations.
"Relying on these records was challenging because they did not contain information regarding the educational purpose and use by students, two requirements that must be met in order for the location to be considered Clery geography."
According to the final draft of the audit, obtained under the California public records act, university officials have pledged to remedy the situation.