President’s office under review for allegedly snubbing sexual assault claim

Sarah Minkewicz, news editor

The president’s office at SUNY Buffalo State is under investigation for a claim on not responding fully to a student’s sexual violence report that was filed last semester.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is investigating the claim and notified the president’s office earlier last week.


OCR sent a notification letter to the president’s office that said, “opening the allegation for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination with regard to its merit. During the investigation, OCR is a neutral fact-finder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from the complainant, the recipient, and other sources, as appropriate.”


The college sent out a mass email on April 1 and informed faculty and students about the investigation and how they will cooperate.


“We will respond to and cooperate fully with OCR’s investigation,” said the president’s office via mass email. “Buffalo State does not tolerate sexual assault or any other form of violence, and the college takes seriously its responsibility to respond promptly and completely to all reports of sexual misconduct. We are committed to providing a safe learning environment for all students. The student complainant will continue to have our full support and access to all appropriate services as the investigation unfolds.”


The email also said the president’s office will keep the college community “informed, as appropriate, during the OCR review process.”


A link to Title IX Compliance website was provided in the email, which offers resources to victims of sexual assault.


As it states on the website, “Title IX’s protection is not limited to women, but protects the rights of both women and men. Title IX requires that males and females receive fair and equal treatment in all areas of education, including athletics.”


“Failing to comply with Title IX or other federal civil rights requirements may result in the termination of all or part of a university’s federal funding, including awards for faculty research,” the website states.


The president’s staff and Buffalo State’s Public Relations Department could not comment further on the investigation but through the email said, ”Buffalo State is in full compliance with OCR Title IX regulations, including those related to sexual assault. Furthermore, the college has implemented all aspects of SUNY’s uniform sexual assault prevention and response policy, first announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2014.”


Last fall, Katherine Conway-Turner, Buffalo State’s President, said in her blog, “We provide important resources and make them widely available; we assist students in understanding their rights; we help students understand the risks associated with alcohol and drug use; and we teach students to engage in behavior that will ensure consent before any sexual behavior. We hope that through continued education and prevention efforts we will see no incidents occurring on our campus, or any other campus.”


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