Document Type


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Pierce Law Review


Colleges and universities have long been scrutinized and confronted with lawsuits regarding safety and security measures designed and implemented to protect students and prevent dangerous incidents on campus. Under the doctrine of in loco parentis, college administrators assume responsibility for the physical safety and well-being of students as they matriculate through their academic programs. 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 attempted to identify what legal duty colleges and universities have to prevent 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 security 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.