Winter recap

News you may have missed from winter break


University police arrest student in connection with series of Spaulding fires

UPD arrested a UB student on Dec. 17 for one count of arson in the fifth degree and one count of reckless endangerment in the second degree after police were able to secure video footage of the student setting a small fire in the Spaulding building on North Campus, said Deputy Chief of Police Josh Sticht in an email.

Resident Advisors and University police officers were able to put out all six of the fires that occurred on Dec. 11. No one was harmed, but Sticht said the fires could have easily spread and become a danger for the residents in the building.

The Resident Hall advisors in Spaulding had increased their on-call rounds to assist the police officers who were patrolling the area before the arrest, Sticht said.

“The Resident Advisors in Spaulding really went above and beyond to help with this problem,” Sticht said.

The student will be charged through Amherst town court and will most likely receive further disciplinary consequences through the University’s Student Conduct offices, according to Sticht.

UPD will leave the extra video resources deployed in Spaulding to better monitor the area and the RAs in Spaulding will be receiving extra fire safety education.

Brian Haggerty, senior associate director for Campus Living, said in a statement to the university that they will continue to survey the area, but are hopeful the arrest will stop the series of arsons that have affected the area in the last few weeks of the fall semester.

If anyone sees suspicious activity near or around the residence hall or apartment complex, they should contact UPD immediately, Haggerty said.

UB’s police chief retires after 39 years in law enforcement

UB’s Chief of Police Gerald Schoenle announced his retirement Jan. 24, after serving in his position for 12 years, according to UBNow. Schoenle began his career after graduating with his associates degree from Erie Community College and joining the Buffalo police force as an officer. He left the Buffalo Police Department in 2000, retiring as a captain before working with Erie County Central Police Services for five years. Schoenle then worked as assistant police chief in Arlington Texas for a year, before returning to Buffalo to receive state accreditation to become part of UB’s police force. In 2007, he did so.

Laura Hubbard, vice president for finance and administration, told UBNow that Schoenle was instrumental in building relationships between students, faculty and university police. Chris Bartolomei, assistant chief of university police since 2013, will be acting as interim chief while the national search for Schoenle’s replacement continues, according to Hubbard.

Tripathi announces new faculty mentorship policy

President Tripathi announced a new policy for faculty development and mentoring in a university memo Jan. 16, made after the review and recommendations of Provost Charles Zukoski and the Mentoring Review Committee’s Faculty Mentoring Report and Faculty Senate Resolution and Recommendations for University Wide Faculty Mentoring Program.

The new policy includes a specific provision addressing mentoring reports as part of tenure and promotion, a point at issue throughout a contentious debate in the Faculty Senate over an allegedly mishandled promotion case last fall. The central disagreement was over whether or not the renewal committee mishandled a professor’s tenure case by failing to include the professor’s mentoring report in its decision. The new policy clarifies that mentoring reports, should they exist, should not be part of tenure and promotion packets.

State Supreme Court upholds UB Foundation affiliate’s right to private meetings, records

State Supreme Court justice Diane Devlin ruled against UB Law School alumnus John N. Lipsitz’s Article 78 petition to force the UB Foundation affiliated Faculty-Student Housing Corporation to make its board meetings and records open to the public, according to The Buffalo News. Devlin wrote in her seven-page decision that the relationship between the Housing Corp. and UB does not qualify the Housing Corp. as a government entity.

She dismissed Lipsitz’ argument that the Housing Corp.’s collection of student rental payments constituted public money. Sean Cooney, an attorney at local firm Dolce and Pannepinto who represented Lipsitz in the proceedings, said they will be appealing the decision.

Buffalo native sentenced to three and a half years in prison for UB dorm burglaries

Darnell Cleveland, a 21-year-old Buffalo man, pleaded guilty to one count of second degree burglary, second degree forgery, second degree identity theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle on Jan. 24. Cleveland was found responsible for seven burglaries between July and September 2017 in the residence halls on both North and South Campus.

Cleveland used his youthful appearance to blend in on college campuses, according to Deputy Chief of Police Josh Sticht, in order to gain access to residence halls and dorm rooms. He was able to take car keys and wallets, and used the stolen vehicles and credit cards to purchase items. UPD identified him as a suspect through surveillance video.

Sticht said he and the rest of UPD were pleased with the sentence, which he called “substantial” for a non-violent crime. As a result of the investigation, UPD will be implementing a system to allow dispatchers to share videos in real time with officers in the field which Sticht said should help with more “rapid identification” of suspects.

Tripathi praises Governor Cuomo’s plans for higher education

President SatishTripathi released an official statement Jan. 4 expressing his support for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposals for higher education outlined in his Jan. 3 State of the Union address. Tripathi applauded Cuomo’s efforts to make higher education more accessible, pointing to the Excelsior Scholarship which Cuomo championed last spring, and to the governor’s continued economic support for higher education. The statement also expressed UB’s support for the passage of the New York State DREAM Act, which looks to offer a secure a permanent solution for DACA recipients.

“Ours is a university, and a state, committed to diversity, equality and inclusivity,” Tripathi said. “As such, we urge our state legislators to protect New York State’s 42,000 DACA enrollees. In calling for a fair and permanent solution for DACA participants, we share Governor Cuomo’s belief that New York’s strength comes from the diversity of our residents and our openness to people who come here seeking to make a better life.”