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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

Confidential Disclosure Options

The State University of New York wants 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 campus officials or to law enforcement.  You may want to talk with someone about something that 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 document is aimed at helping you understand how confidentiality applies to different resources that may be available to you.

View each Policy section below:

Privileged and Confidential Resources

Individuals who are confidential resources will not report crimes to law enforcement or colleges officials without your permission, except for extreme circumstances, such as a health and/or safety emergency. Both on- and off-campus confidential resources can provide this service. Off-campus options do not provide any information to the campus.

Medical office 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 in compensating victims/survivors for health care and counseling services, including emergency compensation. More information can be found here or by calling (800) 247-8035. Options are explained here.  Renewal House can also assist in obtaining these services.

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

For a complete list of privileged and confidential resources, please click on our Resources or Reporting Options links.

Non-Professional Counselors and Advocates

Non-professional counselors and advocates, such as Wellness Advocates and Peer Counselors, can also assist you without sharing information that could identify you. These individuals will report the nature, date, time, and general location of an incident to the Title IX Coordinator, but will consult with you to ensure no personally-identifying details are shared without your consent. These individuals are not considered confidential resources as discussed above.

Privacy vs. Confidentiality

Even those 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 Title IX Coordinator, who is responsible under the law for tracking patterns and spotting systemic issues. SUNY Potsdam will limit disclosure as much as possible, even if the Title IX Coordinator determines that the request for confidentiality cannot be honored. For a complete list of non-confidential (but private) resources, please click on our Resources or Reporting Options links.

Requesting Confidentiality: How the College Will Weigh the Request and Respond

If you disclose an incident to a SUNY Potsdam employee, who is responsible for responding to or reporting sexual violence or sexual harassment, but wish to maintain confidentiality or do not consent to the College’s request to initiate an investigation, the 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, and other reasonable and available accommodations regardless of your reporting choices. Victims/survivors may request accommodations through the Title IX Coordinator or other on-campus resources listed in our Resources or Reporting Options links. 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 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 campus 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.

When you disclose an incident to someone who is responsible for responding to or reporting sexual violence or sexual harassment, but wish to maintain confidentiality, the College 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;
  • Whether there is increased risk that the accused will commit additional acts of violence;
  • Whether the accused used a weapon or force;
  • Whether the victim/survivor is a minor;
  • 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 the College determines that it must move forward with an investigation, the victim/survivor 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, or other public event, the College is not obligated to begin an investigation.  The College may use the information you provide to inform the need for additional education and prevention efforts.

Anonymous Disclosure

The following hotline is for crisis intervention, resources, and referrals and is not a reporting mechanism.

  • New York State Hotline for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence:  (800) 942-6906

Institutional Crime Reporting

Reports of certain crimes occurring in certain geographic locations will be included in the SUNY Potsdam Annual Security and Annual Fire Safety Report (also known as our Clery Report) in an anonymized manner that neither identifies the specifics of the crime or the identity of the victim/survivor/reporting individual.

SUNY Potsdam is obligated to issue timely warnings of Clery Act crimes occurring within relevant geography that represent a serious or continuing threat to students, employees, and third parties (subject to exceptions when potentially compromising law enforcement efforts and when the warning itself could potentially identify the victim/survivor/reporting individual).  The victim/survivor/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 when (1) there is a health or safety emergency, or (2) when the student is a dependent on either parents’ prior year federal income tax return.  Generally, the College will not share information about a report of sexual violence with parents without the permission of the victim/survivor.