Updated September 7, 2021
The University at Buffalo is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for our students and other members of the university community
For many years, UB has had prevention, response and awareness programs, policies and practices in place to address complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence, and we have adjusted them over time to make them more effective and assure that they comport with applicable laws, regulations and agency guidance.
In addition, UB ensures that reports of sexual violence are investigated and adjudicated in an impartial, timely, and thorough manner by individuals who receive annual training in conducting investigations of sexual violence, the effects of trauma, impartiality, and the rights of all parties to a complaint.
UB Rules and Regulations requires affirmative consent. Consent is clear, knowing and voluntary. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. UB addresses affirmative consent in its policy and educational material including the UB Student Code of Conduct and UB Administrative Hearing Procedures and Title IX/Sexual Misconduct Addendum.
UB has a Good Samaritan policy addressing alcohol and/or drug use amnesty in sexual violence cases. UB encourages bystander intervention through education with information on how to assist a sexual assault survivor.
The University at Buffalo administers the SUNY Campus Climate Survey on a biennial basis. All UB students, faculty and staff are invited to provide information that can advise and inform our campus sexual assault prevention and response efforts.
UB has a Students' Bill of Rights that describes victim/survivor rights and options.
UB developed the Options for Confidentially Disclosing Sexual Violence that was used as the basis for this SUNY policy
UB offers a wide variety of online and in-person trainings on sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, relationship violence, bystander intervention and assisting a sexual assault survivor. These training programs use a variety of best practices aimed at educating the entire university community, with the goal of maintaining a culture where sexual violence is not tolerated.
UB has also developed Guidance for Faculty and Staff, which informs UB employees how to handle a situation where a student discloses a sexual assault to them.
Yes. While no area is 100 percent crime-free, universities in general are safer places than their surrounding townships and communities, and UB is no exception. For a large institution with a daily population of 40,000 people, the crime rate on campus is quite low. Campus crime statistics are published annually in accordance with the Clery Act. For more information, see the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.
With that said, one area where we have to be extremely vigilant is the prevention of student sexual violence. While the reported numbers are still low percentages compared to the overall number of UB students, we need to be concerned because the profile of college sexual assault is different from what is generally thought of as “sexual assault” in our larger culture. We need to understand that sexual violence is generally underreported and that these numbers likely do not reflect the full extent of sexual violence on campus. These are generally not “stranger assaults”: between 85 and 90 percent of sexual violence victims know the perpetrator of the sexual assault. All campus environments carry risk factors for student-on-student sexual violence and UB has been actively employing training, educational programs, bystander awareness and effective response mechanisms to promote the safety of our students.
UB has a well-trained student conduct office and a well-trained police department that are knowledgeable about student issues and have trauma-informed training. UB’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) serves as the university’s Title IX office, and EDI representatives have extensive training and experience in investigating reports of sexual violence. Even if a student does not wish to file criminal or conduct charges, EDI representatives can assist in coordinating supportive measures such as advocacy, counseling, academic accommodations, no contact orders, and other safety and support measures. We have great people who care and who are making considerable efforts to handle cases correctly and in a manner that respects all students’ rights. We have a great cross-functional team that interfaces well. We have been doing things well, and we can always be doing more.
UB also has Sexual Harassment Information Advisors in each unit — unit-level contacts who may be more familiar to a person within a unit and are well-trained and well-versed in the policies, regulations and procedures. The Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion provides training to our Sexual Harassment Information Advisors to increase their awareness of the issue and update them about campus trends and developments.
The UB Personal Safety Committee, founded in 1991, examines campus-wide safety and security issues. Additionally, UB’s Violence Prevention Team, a subcommittee of the Personal Safety Committee, has been in place for several years and focuses specifically on developing and implementing strategies for campus sexual assault prevention.
UB Health Promotion provides a number of training programs, outreach and awareness campaigns to combat campus sexual assault and to support survivors. Key among these are bystander-intervention training programs. Freshmen often are targeted at universities. While most people want to do the right thing, they may not know that it is acceptable to intervene or how to intervene. We want to encourage to people to do the right thing in those situations and give them the tools to know how to safely intervene.
For many years, UB has had prevention and awareness programs, policies and practices in place to deal with complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence, and we have adjusted them over time to make them more effective and assure that they comport with applicable laws, regulations and agency guidance.
Awareness and prevention programming and events are held throughout the year, and students who are interested in this subject can find a wealth of information and assistance on UB's websites.
We feel the level of awareness of this issue has increased on a national level because of media coverage, the White House Task Force, and the #MeToo movement. This focus increased over the past decade as people who have experienced sexual harassment and sexual violence have been empowered to tell their stories. We are finding that students and their parents already come to campus understanding on some level that sexual violence may be an issue for college students. UB has focused on sexual violence prevention and response since 2007, when our Health Promotion team began addressing campus sexual violence from a public health perspective, employing programming, education, and ongoing assessment. We believe the increased awareness does benefit UB because sexual violence prevention needs to be everyone’s responsibility. A bystander who understands the issue may be in a position where they can help someone who is in a dangerous situation, or where they can provide the necessary support to encourage a friend to report an assault that occurred. Victims of sexual violence tend to blame themselves and question whether they were at fault. Publicizing this as a national issue can help a sexual violence victim recognize that what happened was not their fault, and that the victim is not alone.
One concern we have is that media coverage of schools that did not handle sexual violence situations well might have a chilling effect on victims who might fear that universities generally want to “sweep sexual assault under the rug,” or who might fear that they will be subjected to a humiliating, blaming process if they choose to report. UB has worked hard to message to survivors of sexual violence that they will not be blamed for what has happened, and has incorporated its Options for Confidentially Disclosing Sexual Violence to help survivors understand how they can get help while still maintaining control over the steps taken in response.
CLERY obligates any campus security authority to report serious crimes, including rape and sexual assault, that occur in campus locations. Most faculty and professional staff are also mandated to report information they receive about sexual violence against students to UB’s Title IX Coordinator. UB also has an anonymous web form by which people can report. How UB handles a report depends on circumstances, including whether the reporting party chooses to proceed with a criminal charge, disciplinary charge or discrimination report; whether the alleged perpetrator is a student or employee; and whether campus safety concerns obligate UB to move forward with an investigation regardless of the survivor’s willingness to file a report. The incident may be handled by Employee Relations (employee issue), Student Conduct and Advocacy (student policy, code of conduct, regulation), Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (discrimination) or University Police (criminal). The goal is to respect the survivor’s wishes while ensuring the safety of the UB community.
Violations of UB’s Rules and Regulations are handled by Student Conduct and Advocacy, conducted by full time staff (UBPD or EDI handles the investigation, witnesses may be called, an advocate/assistant is allowed and, if there is a finding, a penalty is imposed). The Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion handles complaints of discrimination and harassment, and also can coordinate support services and academic accommodations for a victim of sexual violence. Criminal charges are handled by University Police.
Regardless of the channel in which the incident is originally reported, the survivor is always provided with the Students’ Bill of Rights and a list of options of how they can proceed.
UB describes its Sexual Violence Response Policy in accordance with our Students’ Bill of Rights.
The University continues to seek to create a culture and climate where students and our community feel empowered - aware of their rights and what actions they may take.