A group of Connecticut lawmakers wants to force colleges and universities around the country to include accidents that lead to death or serious injury when reporting safety data.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Reps. Joe Courtney and Jim Himes, have introduced the College Operational Reporting of Emergencies Involving Teens and Young Adults Safety, or COREY, Act.
The bill is named after Corey Hausman, a Connecticut teen who died in a skateboarding accident on the University of Colorado campus, and is modeled after a law Connecticut adopted just two years ago.
“Reporting and tracking gives colleges a powerful incentive to do better, to make their streets and dorms safer,” Blumenthal said during a press conference Wednesday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
The CLERY Act of 1990 already requires colleges and universities to issue annual reports on campus crime statistics in order to receive federal funding. The COREY act would expand that and require those schools to also include data on accidents that result in death or serious injury.
Students go off to college and university with the goal of gaining experiences, skills, and accreditation for opportunities later in life.
“It’s one of greatest things a parent gets to witness — to see our kids work hard and achieve these opportunities —, and while not every tragedy can be prevented, we need to know that schools are taking meaningful steps to keep students safe on campus,” Courtney said in a statement.
The bill is named after Hausman, a former Westport native who died just three weeks into his freshman year in 2018. Hausman was skateboarding on the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus when he lost control and crashed, hitting his head.
He died the next day and no one else was involved in the crash.
Joel Hausman, Corey’s father, said he hopes the bill will help prevent accidents like the one that killed his son. He said school officials told him Corey’s death was the third one on campus that semester.
“When you think about it, it’s pretty unbelievable,” he said Wednesday during a press conference.
Hausman and his wife, Nannette Hausman, began researching how often students die on college campuses from accidents, and found no such tracking exists.
“You might Google it and you’ll read sensationalized articles on young adults who have perished, but no statistics, nothing constructive that you can use to make things better,” he said.
A 2013 study by the American College Health Association estimated that accidents accounted for 10.8% of deaths on college campuses making it the leading cause among 254 deaths the prior calendar year.
By comparison, homicides accounted for just 0.53%, according to the study.
Campus safety advocates said the disclosure of safety data could force universities and colleges to act when deaths highlight safety issues, just as they’ve done with statistics already in the CLERY reports.
“The federal Jeanne Clery Act’s crime and fire safety data disclosure requirements have profoundly improved the campus safety landscape over the last three decades,” S. Daniel Carter, President, Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, LLC, said in a statement. “Higher education informed by this data has made targeted improvements to campus police and security agencies as well as residence hall access and fire safety.”
Schools risk federal funding when CLERY data indicates they might be in violation of federal regulations, for example if sexual assault stats raise concerns about a Title IX violation.
Nothing in the COREY Act would lead to schools losing funding over deaths caused by accidents.
Blumenthal said families who sue over the death of a loved one could use the data, though, to prove a school ignored safety, giving schools a financial incentive to address safety concerns quickly.
Connecticut adopted a similar law in 2021. Blumenthal said the federal bill is modeled after that law.
The Hausmans also launched a website, College911.net, with safety tips for parents and students who go off to college.