UB Focuses on Student Safety in University Heights Neighborhood

Updated August 8, 2017

UB remains strongly committed to working with students, neighborhood residents and law enforcement to promote good citizenship and improve quality of life in University Heights.

Working alongside community partners, UB is continually developing new approaches, and assessing current ones, to encourage proper behavior in the neighborhood. We believe the best way to achieve this goal is through a combination of efforts involving the university, Buffalo Police and the community. 

UB’s efforts include educating students on proper behavior and what’s expected of them under UB’s code of conduct, and disciplining those who misbehave.

As the 2017-2018 academic year begins, UB’s efforts will include these specific activities:

Continued emphasis on law enforcement and student discipline

Through ongoing discussions, the university, the Buffalo Police Department and neighborhood residents have agreed that one of the most effective ways to instill proper behavior is to maintain a very visible law enforcement presence in the University Heights neighborhood and at university bus stops during the start of the academic year.

Buffalo Police, aided by University Police, will be especially active during the first weekends of the fall semester, arresting students who break the law and disciplining those who violate university’s code of student conduct. 

Experience has shown that when active law enforcement and disciplinary measures are undertaken during the first month of the fall semester, most students quickly learn that bad behavior will not be tolerated and the consequences can be costly.  

Students are told in no uncertain terms that they put their academic careers at risk by breaking the law or violating UB’s code of student conduct.

The disciplinary figures from the 2016 Fall Semester through October show UB’s commitment to addressing problem behavior:

  • 100 findings of ‘Responsible for disorderly conduct, alcohol, and other violations’
  • 68 sanctioned to community service including Heights Clean-up
  • 30 Students placed on probation
  • 58 sanctioned to the Community Expectations Class
  • 5 students issued other sanctions

Alternative entertainment options for students

Last fall, the university launched new free bus routes for students to provide access to alternative entertainment options on the weekends.  The buses run from the UB campus to shopping and entertainment areas on Walden Avenue, including the Galleria Mall.

The university has also developed evening and weekend on-campus programming for students, which includes movies and game nights in the Student Union.

Changes to UB shuttle schedule

UB has changed its shuttle schedule this fall, see the 2017-2018 Bus Schedule Changes FAQ for details. 

Communication, education and community service

At orientation in July, first-year students participate in mandatory programming about proper student conduct and acceptable behavior on and off campus.  Student behavior is also discussed during parent orientation during a “Safety and Community Standards” session presented by UB’s Judicial Affairs office and University Police.

During the fall semester, the university will continue to raise awareness about proper student behavior by placing ads in the UB student newspaper, engaging students through social media, meeting with student leaders and holding discussions in residence halls.  The university has expanded its good-neighbor programming to include a transfer student orientation and at a “moving off campus fair” to be held during the spring semester.    

Promoting and reinforcing good community citizenship

The University Heights Quality of Life Task Force meets quarterly to discuss collaborative efforts in the neighborhood.  Task force members include representatives from UB Student Government, Community Relations, Judicial Affairs and Off-Campus Student Services.  The group also includes Amherst, University and Buffalo Police, Amherst Fire Department, Erie County Health Department, State Liquor Authority, Permits & Inspection, and area business and community leaders. 

As part of UB’s annual “Operation Doorhanger,” at the beginning of the fall semester, university volunteer to go door-to-door to about 1,600 homes in University Heights providing neighborhood residents with information about whom to contact to discuss concerns or opportunities related to UB students.  The flyers also will include tips for students on how to be a good neighbor, as well as helpful information about personal safety, food options, housing code compliance and voter registration. 

Off-campus law and safety enforcement and UB’s commitment to safety

UB and the City of Buffalo have again agreed to a memorandum of understanding that enables University Police and the Buffalo Police Department to request assistance from one another when required in the University Heights neighborhood.

Long-term stabilization of the neighborhood

Launched in 2015, the UB H.O.M.E. (Home Ownership Made Easy) program provides incentives for UB faculty and staff to buy homes in University Heights and other neighborhoods near the UB South Campus.  Qualified UB employees are eligible for a combination of interest-free deferred and forgivable loans that can be used to help cover down payments and closing costs, or for interest rate reduction.

The program is designed to encourage home ownership and is a long-term approach to help support stabilization and revitalization in and around UB’s South Campus.  

Dozens of UB faculty and staff bought homes through a similar program that ended in 2009.  Many UB employees currently live in University Heights.   



How safe is the University Heights District neighborhood?

The University Heights neighborhood, which borders UB’s South Campus in Buffalo, is home to many responsible families, many of whom are UB employees, as well as students who rent apartments in the neighborhood. Like most urban communities that border a college campus, this neighborhood is not immune to crime and safety issues, but it is generally a safe place to live. Safety and crime in the neighborhood has been proactively addressed in a number of ways over the last few years by UB, the City of Buffalo and neighborhood residents. 

UB takes very seriously any criminal activity perpetrated against or by students, which is why UB and its community partners continue to take steps to make this neighborhood safer. UB Student Wide Judiciary and Judicial Affairs have developed a low-tolerance policy for students involved in misconduct.

Collaboration among the university, the City of Buffalo and the community is essential to these efforts. “The safety of our students, both on and off campus, is certainly a major concern for the University Police,” says Gerald W. Schoenle Jr., chief of University Police. “The university has made numerous security enhancements on and near our South Campus and North Campus. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, particularly the Amherst and Buffalo Police, to assist in addressing concerns both on and off campus.”

How safe is the University at Buffalo overall?

UB’s annual on-campus crime statistics are consistently very low and, in fact, UB's crime rate is significantly down from years ago. UB’s University Police department is state-accredited and is one of the best campus police departments in the state. University Police consists of highly trained professionals who provide around-the-clock service to the university community.

Over the past several years, UB has invested more than $5 million in security enhancements on its campuses, including new lighting, security cameras and emergency Blue Light phones.  The university also has purchased security cameras in the Heights.

Why doesn’t UB Police regularly patrol the Heights neighborhood?

The law allows SUNY Police to patrol the campus and streets that directly border the campus, but the law limits their authority outside these strict boundaries. UB police officers are, however, authorized to assist Amherst and Buffalo officers during patrols, arrests and investigations, and they often do. To make UB Police even more available to assist in peak times during the semester, the university added additional officers to the 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. patrol on UB’s campuses. This staffing upgrade was made in response to feedback from residents of the Heights and the campus community who requested additional evening patrols.

What is UB doing to improve quality of life and community relations in the Heights?

Improving the quality of life and relationships in the neighborhood is a priority of UB’s community outreach. Working with community leaders and neighborhood residents, UB has implemented several initiatives that are having a positive effect on the neighborhood and its relationship with the university. These include:

  • Several years ago the university created the Office of Off-Campus Student Services to assist students living off campus and to help educate them about their responsibilities as community members. This office also serves as UB’s connection to residents in the Heights community—offering a central administrative department—providing support and resources to residents. An example of this effort is UB’s “Operation Doorhanger.” Established several years ago, UB provides information to residents who live in the University Heights area with contact information in the event they would like to discuss concerns or opportunities related to UB students.   To discuss concerns related to UB students, residents can contact UB’s Off Campus Student Services Office at (716) 829-3541.
  • Ongoing grass-roots collaboration with community groups, such as the University Heights Collaborative, University District Block Club Coalition, Buffalo Promise Neighborhood and the South Campus Community Development Association, to encourage dialogue and creation of mutually beneficial solutions.
  • “Neighbor’s Day Block Party and Safety Fair” at UB’s South Campus, encouraging residents, students, Main Street and Bailey Avenue business to meet and foster positive relationships.  
  • Attendance at monthly Buffalo Police District Community Meetings with the Chief, along with other residents to discuss strategies on how to reduce the incidence of crime in the neighborhoods.
  • Creation of a Community Relations Advisory Council to focus on issues of concern to community members and how UB can improve its relationship with the community.
  • Creation of free community events, such as the “UB on the Green” summer concert series and a community Farmers Market, which gives neighborhood residents an opportunity to enjoy the UB South Campus and also helps to build good community relationships.
  • Working with community leaders and neighborhood residents throughout the 2014-15 school year, more than 300 UB students completed nearly 2,000 hours of service through community initiatives that are having a positive effect in the University Heights neighborhood. These include:
    • UB Pride and Service Day
    • Opening Weekend Pride and Service Day
    • “Saturday of Service,” monthly services opportunities open to all UB students focusing on community projects in the University Heights neighborhood
    • Annual Community Engagement Fair
    • Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service
  • Creation of a quarterly “UB Neighbor” newsletter, which is mailed to 16,000 residences in the Heights and near the South Campus, updating them on UB’s community-relations initiatives and outreach on the South Campus and in the surrounding community.

Are students subject to university discipline for off-campus behavior?

When student behavior violates the law, it is our expectation that students will face the consequences of their behavior through enforcement of applicable laws and the university’s disciplinary process.

Buffalo police department share all reports involving students with UB’s University police which review and forward to UB's office of judicial affairs for evaluation for potential university code of conduct violations.  

Should a student’s action be ruled as violating the conduct code, Disciplinary action from the office of judicial affairs can range from mandated drug and alcohol classes and community service hours, to long-term suspension and expulsion