Release Date: April 29, 2021
BUFFALO, N.Y. —The University at Buffalo released the following statement in response to allegations of sexual assault and harassment in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences:
The University at Buffalo takes all allegations of sexual violence and assault on and off campus very seriously. Nothing is more important than the safety and welfare of the members of our community.
The Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is responsible for ensuring UB’s compliance with laws, rules, regulations and policies prohibiting sexual harassment and sexual violence in UB programs and activities. EDI will investigate reports of discrimination and harassment, including sexual violence. Under laws and policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment, the university must conduct investigations in a manner that protects the rights of all parties to a complaint.
A critical part of the investigatory process is an initial interview with the individual who is bringing forward an allegation to allow the university to obtain evidence, including the names of witnesses, any available documentation, or other corroborating information. This information is necessary for EDI to conduct an effective, informed, and thorough investigation. Importantly, the university must conduct investigations in a manner that provides due process to individuals accused of violations of university policies, and the university cannot discipline students or employees based upon unsubstantiated allegations.
EDI’s policies prohibit disclosure of confidential information about an individual matter or investigation. The university will not disclose case-specific facts or details about any pending litigation.
It is important that individuals who experience sexual violence report their experiences with sufficient information for the university to take action. UB takes each sexual violence complaint seriously, and will proceed with an investigation and hearing when an individual has reported sexual violence. For the 2019 reporting year, UB received 62 reports of sexual violence and of this number, 18 students sought redress through UB’s conduct process.
Individuals who are accused of sexual violence have the right to due process, including knowledge of the specific allegations against them that are sufficiently detailed for them to be able to respond. Of the cases that UB considered through the conduct process, 9 respondents were found responsible for sexual violence following a hearing, and each individual found responsible received disciplinary sanctions. As established by this data, UB has acted and will continue to act on claims of sexual violence when these are reported to UB. UB cannot act when a complainant does not provide sufficient information to allow us to know that they have experienced sexual violence, and our ability to respond is limited when a complainant does not cooperate with the university’s process for conducting a full and effective investigation.
For many years, UB has had sexual violence and misconduct prevention and response programs, policies and practices in place to protect and support survivors of sexual misconduct and to educate the campus community.
The University also mandates annual sexual harassment prevention training for all employees, including medical residents, and this training includes the contact information for EDI to inform all employees of how to report sexual harassment, including sexual violence. For more information regarding sexual misconduct and sexual violence prevention, reporting and response at UB, go to www.buffalo.edu/equity.html and http://www.buffalo.edu/news/key-issues/sexual-assault-prevention.html.