At the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany, they continue to strive to create a “healthy, safe, and vibrant” environment for learning. The community is focused on gender fairness and equality. Actions such as those of sexual harassment and discrimination are not tolerated. The Community Rights and Responsibilities provisions define sexual misconduct as being dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or any non-consensual or coerced sexually-based conduct. The University's Vice President for Equity and Compliance and Title IX Coordinator work in collaboration to lead these critical efforts.
Primary Responsibilities for Title IX Compliance at Colleges & Universities
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is a part of the U.S. Department of Education. The OCR seeks to ensure that academic institutions maintain compliance with current Title IX provisions. Schools are encouraged to develop a campus environment that is free from hostility such as various forms of sexually-based harassment. When a school is notified of a potential violation, they are tasked with reacting to investigate in a timely manner. The administration may use various sanctions and other remedies to enforce and deter actions that violate the rules relating to gender-based violence and sexual misconduct.
Key Goals for the Office of Equity and Compliance and Title IX Coordinator
- To respond and pursue equitable resolutions of all reports of discrimination based on gender and forms of sexual abuse
- Provide a centralized and easily accessible location for reporting incidents
- Maintaining written policies available to all in the community
- Referring those in need for key resources and advocates
- Addressing safety concerns of those who report or are victims of sexual misconduct
- Maintaining relationships with partners in the community
- Creating adequate documentation of violations
- Ensuring that investigations into misconduct are conducted fairly
- Continuously providing programs to train and educate
Reporting Potential Misconduct
The University encourages people to reach out to the administration when they recognize a possible incident of sexual abuse or harassment. The staff has the training to determine whether the action(s) observed are violations of Title IX provisions. Those who may be hesitant to come forward should be aware that the administration strives to maintain confidentiality.
Amnesty for Drugs/Alcohol Use in Matters of Sexual Misconduct
The University understands that students may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the misconduct. The administration does not want to discourage anyone from reporting acts of sexual misconduct. Those who are acting in good faith when they report an incident will not be subjected to disciplinary actions for drug or alcohol use.
Interim Protections and Accommodations
These written policies and procedures are contained in the Sexual Violence Response Policy. After receiving information regarding a potential act of sexually-related violence, the University has well-established resources at their disposal to ensure the safety of victims and those who report. A “no contact order” may be ordered that prevents adverse parties from intentionally encountering or communicating with one another.
If needed, the University Police Department will provide assistance. If the health and welfare of a victim or reporting party are threatened, the accused party may be subject to an interim suspension from the University amid the investigation.
Student Conduct Processes
The evidentiary standard employed in these matters is the “preponderance of evidence” standard of proof that a violation occurred “more likely than not”. Parties may choose an advisor who may join them for meeting and hearings. The advisor is not permitted to address the Student Conduct Body in hearings; however, they may communicate privately with administrators. Evidence that either party wishes to present during a hearing must be submitted two days prior to a hearing and will be shared with other parties.
If a student is found responsible for violent acts such as sexual abuse or assault the sanctions will likely include either a suspension or expulsion from the University. Violations that are less severe may lead to sanctions including removal from University housing, ordering a period of disciplinary probation, or making restitution for property damage.
After receiving a decision by the Student Conduct Body, parties have a seven-day period to apply for an appeal. These applications must be submitted electronically and will be reviewed by the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. The only grounds for appeal are when the party believes there was an error in procedure, that new evidence exists, or that the sanctions are excessively severe. Any new evidence that is the basis for an appeal must have been “unavailable” at the time of the prior hearing. This evidence must be significant enough that it may impact the previous ruling. Any ruling or decision made will be final.
Notation of Student Transcripts
The University bases their policy regarding the documentation of student disciplinary violations on transcripts on New York State Education Law article 129-b, called "Enough is Enough". If a student has sanctions imposed such as suspension or dismissal, notations will be added to the student's record.
The State University of New York at Albany Title IX Coordinator Contact
Director of Equity and Compliance and Title IX Coordinator
1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222
Phone: (518) 442-380
How Those Accused May Benefit From Legal Representation
Students are reminded of the importance of not minimizing or underestimating the potential consequences of these types of disciplinary actions. Academic institutions face increased financial pressures today and employ fewer staff and tend to have existing staff responsible for balancing many various responsibilities. Overworked administrators may inadvertently conduct disciplinary matters with minimal regard for the rights of the accused. Having legal counsel to protect your best interests and rights is strongly advised.
Student Title IX Defense Attorney at SUNY at Albany
Joseph D. Lento is an attorney with a wealth of experience in assisting students facing Title IX violations, as well as those engaged in many other areas of campus disciplinary action. Highly effective representation will better ensure you are well prepared for a hearing and ready to respond to allegations. Please contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for details.