5 Pierce L. Rev. 413 (2006-2007)
Confronting the Evolving Safety and Security Challenge at Colleges and Universities

handle is hein.journals/plr5 and id is 421 raw text is: Confronting the Evolving Safety and Security Challenge at
Colleges and Universities
Colleges and universities have long been scrutinized and confronted
with lawsuits regarding safety and security measures designed and imple-
mented to protect students and prevent dangerous incidents on campus.,
Under the doctrine of in loco parentis, college administrators assume re-
sponsibility for the physical safety and well-being of students as they ma-
triculate through their academic programs.2 However, in recent decades,
the realization that university communities are not immune to criminal
activity has led to federal legislation and judicial opinions that have at-
tempted to identify what legal duty colleges and universities have to pre-
vent security breaches. Moreover, college and university administrators
have looked to the courts and legal counsel to determine an institution's
exposure to legal liability and strategies that might be used to minimize
such exposure. This charge has been, and remains, a daunting challenge
for the higher education community. This Article reviews recent cases
regarding the legal duty American colleges and universities have to protect
the student community from harm or injury resulting from safety or secu-
rity breaches. Moreover, this Article identifies legal challenges colleges
and universities may face in response to campus surveillance efforts and
negligence hiring and retention allegations. Finally, the Article offers
some insight intended to advance the legal community's efforts to counsel
and advise college and university administrators regarding the issue of
campus safety.
* Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Mercer University School of Law.
1. United States v. Sykes, 58 F. 1000 (W.D.N.C. 1893) (university president's failure to protect the
moral habits of students constitutes culpable negligence); Stockwell v. Trs. of Stanford Univ., 148 P.2d
405 (Cal. Ct. App. 1944) (Stanford University liable for not taking adequate measures to ensure student
safety from problem regarding use of BB guns on campus); Howe v. Ohmart, 33 N.E. 466 (Ind. Ct.
App. 1893) (affirming jury verdict against church-affiliated college holding that college had a duty to
protect visitor from dangerous pitfalls on campus premises); Tennessee ex rel. Brown v. McCanless,
195 S.W.2d 619 (Tenn. 1946) (affirming the denial of a liquor license that would permit the sale of
intoxicating liquor 700 feet from the Fisk University entrance gate because it was a totally inappropri-
ate place for such business).
2. Brian Jackson, The Lingering Legacy of In Loco Parentis: An Historical Survey and Proposal
for Reform, 44 VAND. L. REv. 1135 (1991).

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