Freedom of Information Law
The University complies fully with the New York State "Freedom of Information Law" (Article VI, Public Officers Law, as amended effective January 1, 1978), which was enacted to assure public accountability of state agencies while protecting individuals against unwarranted invasions of personal privacy. Records are made available through the campus Records Access Officer.
Persons seeking access to records maintained by the University are advised to contact:
Records Access Officer
Brian T. Hines
120 Crofts Hall
To appeal a campus denial of access, persons may contact:
Office of University Counsel
Albany, New York 12246
Under current laws, all records are accessible under the Freedom of Information Act (Public Officers Law, sections 84-90) except records, or portions there of that are specifically exempted. Not accessible under the Freedom of Information Act are records that:
- are specifically exempted from disclosure by state or federal statute;
- if disclosed would impair present of imminent contract awards or collective bargaining negotiations;
- if disclosed, would result in an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
- are trade secrets or are submitted to an agency by a commercial enterprise are derived from information obtained from a commercial enterprise and which, if disclosed, would cause substantial injury to the competitive position of the subject enterprise;
- are compiled for law enforcement purposes and, if disclosed, would:
- interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings;
- deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or impartial adjudication;
- identify a confidential source or disclose confidential information relative to a criminal investigation; or
- reveal criminal investigative techniques or procedures, except routine techniques and procedures;
- if disclosed, would endanger the life or safety of any person;
- are inter-agency communications, except to the extent that such material consists of:
- statistical or factual tabulations or data;
- instructions to staff that affect the public;
- final agency policy or determination; or
- external audits, including, but not limited to, audits performed by the comptroller and the federal government.
- are examination questions or answers that are requested prior to the final administration of such questions; or
- are computer access codes.
The following procedure should be followed when requesting access to UB records under the Freedom of Information Act:
- A request for information or records should be submitted in writing, giving a reasonable description of the records(s) requested for viewing. Whenever possible, dates, titles, file designations, or other information that will help locate of such records should be provided.
- Within five business days of the receipt of a written request for a record reasonably described, the University will make the record available, deny access in writing giving the reason for denial, or furnish a written acknowledgment of receipt of the request and a statement of the approximate date when the request will be granted or denied.
- Copies of accessible records will be made available upon request. The University will not charge for inspection, certification, or search of records. The University will charge $0.25/photocopied page if such photocopying is requested. If the requested photocopying will incur charges of more than $5.00, a letter asking for payment in full for the services rendered will be sent to the person requesting the information. Upon receipt of payment, the photocopies will be released.
Denial of Access and Appeal
- A denial of access will be provided in writing, stating the reason for the denial and advising you of your right to appeal the decision through appropriate University channels.
- An appeal must be requested within thirty calendar days of a denial.
- Upon receipt of an appeal, University has 10 business days to fully explain in writing the reasons for further denial of access, or shall provide access to the records under the procedure guidelines.
- Copies of all appeals and their determinations must be sent by the University to the State Committee on Open Government.
- Review of a final University denial is possible by following Article 78 of the Civil Practice Laws and Rules.
Subject Matter List
Under Public Officers Law, sections 84-90, (the Freedom of Information Act), the University is required to maintain an up-to-date list of the records in UB's possession.
The law defines "record" as "any information kept, held, filed, produced or reproduced by, with or for an agency or the State Legislature, in any physical form whatsoever..." (sections 86(4)). The current law states that all records are accessible, except records or portions of records that fall within one of nine categories of deniable records (section 87 (2)).
Every department 1) identifies a "records custodian", and 2) provides a brief category listing of all unit records.
These would include:
- Personnel files
- Office budget
- Policy and planning documents
- Other records unique to departments
A copy of the updated subject matter listing can be reviewed in University Archives or via the Records Access Offices.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
The State University of New York at Buffalo complies fully with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 in its treatment of student educational records. The University's policy statement can be found in Article 7, Section II Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, of the Student Conduct Rules, University Standards and Administrative Regulations. A copy of the Rules can be obtained from the Judicial Affairs and Student Advocacy, 252 Capen Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260.