At the University of Buffalo, they maintain equality and fairness in key areas such as admissions, athletics, financial aid, and educational programming. The institution prohibits acts that violate Title IX guidelines including those of gender bias, sexual harassment, and other such hostile behavior. They have established resources for those who have been victimized by actions such as stalking, dating violence, and sexually-based assault. The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) collaborates with the Title IX Coordinator's office in maintaining Title IX compliance, which is a requirement for eligibility to federal education funding.
The University's written guidelines define sexual harassment and offer detailed examples of how it may occur. It is described as sexual advances that are unwanted, references to sexual favors, and other physical or verbal acts. The University clearly states that sexual harassment will not be tolerated as a condition of employment or acceptance into university organizations. Acts of sexual harassment are said to create an atmosphere that hinders victims through intimidation and hostility.
Protections and Accommodations
In the University's Title IX compliance efforts they have established significant resources for the protection and support of victims. The administration may implement a “no contact order” when it is deemed to be necessary. This prohibits further intentional communication or other physical contact with the victim. Other measures may include relocation from University housing or alterations of a student's class schedule to avoid contact.
The EDI director is responsible for the investigation of complaints alleging that acts of sexual harassment or discrimination have occurred. Often administration from the EDI may be assigned to review allegations against external entities including vendors or contractors who service the campus. This individual also oversees several Sexual Harassment Information Advisors that provide campus education.
If you wish to anonymously make a report, there are various options for doing so. The University of Buffalo's Counseling Services is open Monday – Friday starting at 8:30a.m. The University of Buffalo Student Health Services Office is another available resource. For 24/7 assistance, the Crisis Services of Erie County can be reached at (716) 834-3131.
Acts of retaliation against victims or others who choose to report potential violations of Title IX guidelines in prohibited. Actions of retaliation may include harassment, intimidation, or seeking to denigrate someone's reputation. These actions will warrant action from the University and be considered a serious conduct violation.
Right to an Advisor
Parties involved in the conduct process at the University are entitled to have an advisor that acts in a role of support and assistance. This advisor, who may be an attorney, may accompany the party to hearings. They are to refrain from acts that may hinder or otherwise obstruct the investigative process.
Those conducting investigations seek to maintain equality, fairness, and confidentiality during the process. Any information obtained is never disclosed except under court order or to officers of law enforcement. Parties accused of misconduct are afforded due process and an opportunity to answer the allegations. The evidentiary standard used is by the preponderance of the evidence.
As the investigation concludes, the parties will receive a “timeline letter” that establishes key dates and deadlines such as for hearings and appeals. The University's process may run concurrently with any criminal proceedings. Temporary delays from the timeline may occur when requested by courts or law enforcement agencies.
- Parties have a right to present evidence and provide testimony at hearings
- Reasonable accommodations will be considered such as to allow for parties to attend and participate in a hearing via telephone or using a video conferencing platform
- Evidence of a party's past disciplinary violations may only be considered during the sanctioning phase of the process
- Parties may submit questions in writing prior to a hearing, which may be permitted at the discretion of the hearing administrators
- The parties each have a right to present a closing statement
- A written summary of findings must be made within 10 days after the hearing by the Office of Student Conduct and Advocacy
The University has several types of sanctions that may be imposed. A party may have their right to reside in University housing revoked. Parties may be restricted from participation in campus activities and organizations. Violators may be order to make restitution to victims for losses. The most severe sanctions include a temporary period of suspension or permanent expulsion from the institution.
Parties are always provided the opportunity to appeal an adverse ruling. There are three distinct grounds for an appeal:
- The sanction(s) imposed are too excessive for the violations
- An error in procedure occurred
- New evidence (information) has surfaced
The deadline for filing an appeal will be stated in the “timeline letter” that all parties receive prior to the hearing. Appeal decisions are issued within 10 days following submission.
Students found to have violated conduct will have a notation of the disciplinary action added to their transcript. When the violation is a crime of violence it is generally subject to the federal Clery Act provisions that require transcript documentation. Violations that result in suspension may remain indefinitely.
University of Buffalo Title IX Coordinator Contact
Director; Title IX/ADA Coordinator
Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
406 Capen Hall
Buffalo, New York 14260
Should I Have Legal Representation?
Having a lawyer assist you through the disciplinary process may provide you with a host of potential benefits. Your attorney is likely to devise a defense strategy. Your hearing preparation may include drafting and delivering a highly effective impact statement and being able to confidently respond to questions. The attorney may detect inconsistencies among the evidence. He or she may also engage the administration in potential settlement talks to reach a mutual beneficially outcome.
Defense Attorney for Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have years of experience in defending college and university students who are facing allegations of wrongdoing. Due to often tight time constraints, those accused should promptly seek legal counsel. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.