Content warning: This article contains sensitive information about sexual assault. The National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at 1-800-656-4673.
UB received 62 reports of sexual violence in 2019, according to data from the New York State Education Department.
Thirty-two of these reported incidents took place on campus, while 25 occured off campus. Five were reported to have taken place at an unknown location.
NYSED data from 2020 reflects a decrease in sexually-based crimes from 2019, but the trend follows reductions in UB’s overall crime rate, which dipped due to a decrease in the number of students on campus, as a result of COVID-19.
Data for 2021 and 2022 has yet to be collected.
These reports are not an entirely accurate representation of sexual violence on college campuses, experts say. Only about 31% of sexual assaults are actually reported, according to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
The Spectrum compiled a list of on-campus resources — both disciplinary and mental health-related — available to sexual assault survivors:
Disciplinary actions/criminal proceedings
There are multiple ways to file a report with law enforcement. University Police is responsible for investigating incidents that take place on campus, according to Sharon Nolan-Weiss, UB’s Title IX coordinator.
Survivors can report an incident by calling 716-645-2222, or through UPD’s online anonymous submission form.
“It’s important to note that the University Police investigator’s role is to allow both the person who is reporting sexual violence and the individual who is accused to be heard,” Nolan-Weiss said in an email. “Following the interviews and if the reporting party wishes to proceed with criminal action, the investigator will consult with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office to determine if that office will proceed with criminal charges.”
Incidents that occur off campus must be reported to local police based on the jurisdiction they took place in. “For example, Town of Amherst, City of Buffalo, Town of Tonawanda,” Nolan-Weiss said.
Student disciplinary charges
Survivors can also file reports through Student Life’s administrative hearing process, which is based on the UB Student Code of Conduct.
Students can submit claims relating to Title IX violations (Title IX is a federal civil rights law meant to prevent sex-based discrimination in schools and sexual assault) to the university, which are investigated and overseen by administrators who serve as “hearing officers.”
These hearing officers are responsible for determining whether or not an accused individual is guilty of violating school policy.
The hearing officers are also tasked with asking questions and reviewing any evidence given to them from Student Conduct and Advocacy prior to the hearing. If the accused party is found guilty, the panel decides on an “appropriate punishment.”
All cross-examination questions must be submitted in advance of the hearing. Impact statements, which allow both parties to state their thoughts after the outcome is deliberated, are optional. Retaliation against anyone involved in the hearing is prohibited and a timeline is developed to determine how disciplinary actions will proceed.
Administrative hearing officers also swear to provide equal rights for the accused and the complainant and must inform both parties of the hearing’s outcome within 10 days of their findings. If found guilty, the university must immediately suspend or expel the perpetrator.
Survivors who wish to pursue this avenue may schedule a hearing or file a request for an advisor to assist during the hearing through UB’s resource page.
After scheduling a hearing, both parties will receive an email from Student Conduct and Advocacy, explaining the next steps.
Mental health services/community outreach
UB offers numerous options for survivors who decide to pursue counseling. Victims can utilize Counseling Services by going to their office at 120 Richmond Quadrangle or by calling (716) 645-6154 and scheduling an appointment with a professional. Survivors’ identities are protected and UB’s counseling services are free to use, regardless if a survivor pursued legal action.
Survivors can also reach out to Student Conduct and Advocacy for additional support. An advocate is assigned to each case to walk the survivor through their options and support them during potential hearings, according to Nolan-Weiss.
“The advocate can provide confidential assistance to UB students and employees who have experienced sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking,” Nolan-Weiss said. “This assistance includes support through the criminal justice process and campus disciplinary processes, as well as help with obtaining supportive accommodations. For example, changes in housing arrangements, academic accommodations and counseling.”
Survivors who were assaulted before coming to UB can also utilize counseling resources.
UB’s resource page lists other resources for survivors.
UB’s amnesty policy allows all complainants — whether or not they were drinking or using drugs at the time of the assault — to access counseling resources.
“Please know that you will not be judged or blamed for what happened if you contact UB offices for help and that we can meet with you to talk about both support and reporting options,” Nolan-Weiss said.
Sexual violence prevention clubs and organizations
UB has multiple student-run sexual assault awareness groups available to survivors and allies on campus.
These organizations are dedicated to providing a safe space for survivors of sex-based crimes and supporting an open forum for community members to discuss the impact sexual assault has on them.
One on-campus group, the Men’s Groups, spreads awareness for male victims of sexual assault.
The Men’s Groups is “dedicated to cultivating men as allies in sexual violence prevention,” according to the club’s description on UBLinked. “Sexual violence affects everyone, including men directly and indirectly. We hope to gather men that want to make a difference and will stand as a majority against the few that are committing these horrible crimes.”
Survivors and allies can email the Men’s Groups at email@example.com or call them at 716-829-3009.
Another on-campus group, the Student Survivor Advocacy Alliance, aims to unite “survivors of gender violence with allies at UB who want to take a stand against rape, sexual assault and intimate partner violence,” according to the club’s description on UBLinked.
They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 716-645-2837.
Kayla Estrada is an assistant news/features editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Kayla Estrada is the opinion editor at The Spectrum. She is an English major who enjoys rainy weather, “Bob’s Burgers” and asking people who they voted for. When she’s not writing, she can be found hunting for odd-looking knick-knacks at the nearest thrift store.