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Options for Confidential Disclosure

The State University of New York and College of Environmental Science and Forestry want you to get the information and support you need regardless of whether you would like to move forward with a report of sexual violence to College officials or to the police. You may want to talk with someone about something you observed or experienced, even if you are not sure that the behavior constitutes sexual violence. A conversation where questions can be answered is far superior to keeping something to yourself. Confidentiality varies and this page is aimed at helping you understand how confidentiality applies to different resources that may be available to you.

You have the right to make a report to ESF University Police, local law enforcement, and/or state police or choose not to report; to report the incident to the College; to be protected by the College from retaliation for reporting an incident; and to receive assistance and resources from the College.

In this policy:

  • Privileged and Confidential Resources
  • Privacy versus Confidentiality
  • Requesting confidentiality: How the College will weigh the request and respond
  • Public Awareness/Advocacy Events
  • Institutional Crime Reporting

Privileged and Confidential Resources

Individuals who are confidential resources will not report crimes to law enforcement or College officials without your permission, except for extreme circumstances such as health and/or safety emergency.

At SUNY ESF, this includes:

Off-campus options to disclose sexual violence confidentially include:

  • Off-campus counseling and advocacy:
    • Vera House, 6181 Thompson Road, Suite 100. General assistance 315-425-0818/ 24-hour crisis hotline 315-468-3260

Note: These outside options do not provide any information to the College. Crisis services offices will generally maintain confidentiality unless you request disclosure and sign a consent or waiver form. More information on an agency’s policies on confidentiality may be obtained directly from the agency.

  • Off-campus health care providers:
    • Crouse Hospital, 736 Irving Avenue, General assistance 315-470-7111 / Emergency Room 315-470-7411
    • Upstate Hospital, 750 E. Adams Street, General assistance 315-464-5540 /Emergency Room 315-464-5611
    • St. Joseph's Hospital, 301 Prospect Avenue, General assistance 315-448-5111/ Emergency Room 315-448-5101

Note: Medical offices and insurance billing practices may reveal information to the insurance policyholder, including medication and/or examinations paid for or administered. The New York State Office of Victim Services may be able to assist compensating victims/survivors for health care and counseling services, including emergency compensation. More information may be found in the Rights of Crime Victims in New York State booklet (PDF) or by calling 1-800-247-8035. Options are explained on the Help for Crime Victims website.

Note that even individuals who can typically maintain confidentiality are subject to exceptions under the law, including when an individual is a threat to him or herself or others and the mandatory reporting of child abuse.

Privacy vs. Confidentiality

Even SUNY ESF offices and employees who cannot guarantee confidentiality will maintain your privacy to the greatest extent possible. The information you provide to a non-confidential resource will be relayed only as necessary to investigate and/or seek a resolution and to notify the College's Title IX Coordinator (or designee), who is responsible under the law for tracking patterns and spotting systemic issues. SUNY ESF will limit the disclosure as much as possible, even if the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) determines that the request for confidentiality cannot be honored.

Requesting Confidentiality

How SUNY ESF will weigh the request and respond:

If you disclose an incident to a SUNY ESF employee who is responsible for responding to or reporting sexual violence or sexual harassment, but you wish to maintain confidentiality or do not consent to the College’s request to initiate an investigation, the College’s Title IX Coordinator must weigh your request against our obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all members of our community, including you.

We will assist you with academic, housing, transportation, employment, and other reasonable and available accommodations regardless of your reporting choices. While reporting individuals may request accommodations through several College offices, the following office can serve as a primary point of contact to assist with these measures:

  • Office of Student Affairs, 315-470-6660, 110 Bray Hall

We also may take proactive steps, such as training or awareness efforts, to combat sexual violence in a general way that does not identify you or the situation you disclosed.

We may seek consent from you prior to conducting an investigation. You may decline to consent to an investigation, and that determination will be honored unless the College's failure to act does not adequately mitigate the risk of harm to you or other members of the SUNY ESF community. Honoring your request may limit our ability to meaningfully investigate and pursue conduct action against an accused individual. If we determine that an investigation is required, we will notify you and take immediate action as necessary to protect and assist you.

SUNY ESF will consider many factors to determine whether to proceed despite that request. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Whether the accused has a history of violent behavior or is a repeat offender;
  • Whether the incident represents escalation, such as a situation that previously involved sustained stalking;
  • The increased risk that the accused will commit additional acts of violence;
  • Whether the accused used a weapon or force;
  • Whether the reporting individual is a minor; and
  • Whether we possess other means to obtain evidence, such as security footage, and whether the report reveals a pattern of perpetration at a given location or by a particular group

If SUNY ESF determines that it must move forward with an investigation, the reporting individual will be notified and the College will take immediate action as necessary to protect and assist them.

Public Awareness/Advocacy Events

If you disclose a situation through a public awareness event such as "Take Back the Night," candlelight vigils, protests, a student organization event/forum, or other public event, SUNY ESF is not obligated to begin an investigation. SUNY ESF may use the information you provide to inform the need for additional education and prevention efforts.

Anonymous Disclosure

The included hotlines outlined under Reporting Options are for crisis intervention, resources, and referrals, and are not reporting mechanisms, meaning that disclosure on a call to a hotline does not provide any information to SUNY ESF.

Institutional Crime Reporting

Reports of certain crimes occurring in certain geographic locations will be included in the SUNY ESF Clery Act Annual Security Report in an anonymous manner that neither identifies the specifics of the crime nor the identity of the reporting individual.

SUNY ESF is obligated to issue timely warnings of Clery Act crimes occurring within relevant geography that represent a serious or continuing threat to students and employees (subject to exceptions when potentially compromising law enforcement efforts and when the warning itself could potentially identify the reporting individual). A reporting individual will never be identified in a timely warning.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) allows institutions to share information with parents/guardians when (1) there is a health or safety emergency or (2) when the student is a dependent on either parents'/guardians' prior year federal income tax return. Generally SUNY ESF will not share information about a report of sexual violence with parents/guardians without permission of the reporting individual.