UB – the University at Buffalo – as a Sexist Institution (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

When I first entered the University at Buffalo as an undergraduate student in 1989, I felt included. For me, as a woman, it is important to me to feel and be a part of any group or institution that truly “includes” women, both appreciating and respecting women. The atmosphere that is present at UB today, in 2014, however, has changed. UB has become a sexist institution that promotes a perspective and images that make men the priority. Women’s concerns and interests have taken a backseat to those of men, sometimes being entirely excluded. What happened?

The University at Buffalo (UB) is one of the four university centers within the State University of New York (SUNY) system. Being born and raised in Western New York State, I was aware of UB as an institution that was prestigious, with a reputation for educational excellence. As a high school senior, I was accepted at all of the eight or ten colleges and universities to which I applied. UB was actually my second choice behind Ithaca College, though I chose to attend UB because of the lesser cost, closer proximity to home, and excellent reputation as a research institution. I had been interested in pursuing a medically-related career at that time, and I am an individual who gets much enjoyment from completing research, so UB seemed the perfect place for me to go after high school.

After arriving at UB, I quickly gained the feeling that it was a place in which I could soar, and I was correct. In my first year there, I became a member of several student organizations in which I was interested; studied a science-related curriculum to prepare for a medical career; worked part-time in my dormitory complex; was active in the university wind ensemble and chorus; and was a member of both the indoor and outdoor women’s track and field teams. I was not, nor have ever been a “partier;” and I never put on the “freshman 15.” In fact, I became more busy and active at UB, getting into better shape, and structuring my life and managing my time so that I would be as successful as possible. While doing this, I also met new people, made new friends, tried out different avenues of interests and enjoyment, and stayed as focused on my studies as possible.

As a member of the women’s track and field team at UB, I was one of the Royals. The men were the Bulls, and the women were the Royals. My specialty areas were in field events, including shot put, discus, and javelin. In my last two years of high school, I was recognized as one of the top competitors in shot put and discus throughout Western New York State. While I also competed in nearly every other event throughout the six years that I was a member of my varsity high school team, those two were my top events. As a Royal, I was a proud member of the women’s team at UB. Today, women’s sports teams are only known as Bulls, a masculine term that excludes, overlooks, and denies the “femaleness” of women. As such and in the manner that it is used at UB, the term ‘Bulls’ has become a sexist word that excludes women, and in turn, prioritizes only the gender, concerns, and interests of men.

Throughout most of my time spent at UB as an undergraduate, I was also a member of the university’s pep band. The Pep Band was a group that played songs during men’s home football and basketball games to liven up the crowd. The Pep Band also played at one away football game per semester. In my schooling prior to attending UB, I had been a member of the band and marching band for eight years. Included as a requirement for being a band member in high school was participating in both the marching band and pep band. Therefore, while UB did not have a marching band at that time, I was quite familiar with what was expected and required of musicians, whether they were extremely serious or playing just for fun. The Pep Band provided an outlet for students to play their instruments socially and recreationally.

Thunder of the East Logo (Retrieved on June 16, 2014 fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunder_of_the_East)

Thunder of the East Logo (Retrieved on June 16, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunder_of_the_East)

At UB today, there is the Thunder of the East Marching Band. The main logo that promotes the image of the group reflects a man playing a trumpet. Inequality and sexism are represented in the image because of this. There is no woman who is reflected in the logo. Women are completely excluded from being portrayed in the logo, though the marching band is not a group that is exclusively male. This reflects another situation in which men’s gender, interests, and concerns take priority over women, excluding women.

At UB, I never had a boyfriend. As a heterosexual woman, that was a part of my life that was lacking. At more than half way through my senior year, I was still a virgin, and was quite proud of it. I had prided myself in trying remain chaste for the “right” person. Certainly, I dated and always had many male friends, with many who were very good friends – respectful, caring, protective, and gentlemanly, more like good brothers. But, there was never one who could adjust to my busy and focused lifestyle; perhaps there was never a man who wanted to work as hard as it would be required to maintain an intimate relationship with me. My focus was on my studies and activities, ending up with completing two degrees in the less than 3.5 years, less than the amount of time that it takes most students to complete one degree. And, perhaps I was not willing to “make” the time necessary for which an intimate relationship would have required to be successful. Through all of this, it was still okay at UB for me to make my own decision in regard to the types and levels of intensity of my relationships with others.

In the latter part of 1992, in my last semester at UB as an undergraduate, a peer raped me. The rape occurred on a blind date with him that had been arranged by two mutual friends, one of whom was a fraternity member. This man was a fellow UB student, two years younger than me, from Downstate New York who was also a member of the same fraternity as our mutual friend. The morning following the violent and hurtful rape that I experienced, I informed my two friends about it, and one friend encouraged me to confront the rapist about it by phone, another hurtful experience for me. While four people knew of the rape, it was not reported until I reported it to UB campus police a few years later, having caused all those involved to protect the rapist so that he cleanly got away with his crime, as well as creating accomplices out of our mutual “friends.”

In later reporting the crime to public safety at UB, one of the police chiefs laughed about it, dismissing it and minimizing it. The case went through the legal system, but the perpetrator was never charged, nor prosecuted. He got away with a violent rape in which I was harmed and injured in many ways. No one at UB provided me with any support in coping with what had occurred. No one told me that women at college and university campuses may have a chance of being raped. No one told me that men who are members of many college and university fraternities believe rape is sex. No one told me that the assistant district attorney in Buffalo would deny that I was raped, telling me that I had not been raped. No one told me that my life would be forever altered by being trusting of a man who was twisted in his thoughts and actions, violently raping and harming me, and getting away with it. No one asks to be raped. And, when it happens, I have experienced that it is the victim or survivor who is blamed, revictimized, and punished by many in society who do not hold the offender responsible or accountable for his actions.

Ejaculating Snow Penis at UB in 2010 (Retrieved on May 28, 2014 from http://photographsbyseon.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/the-snow-phallus-is-back/)

Ejaculating Snow Penis at UB in 2010 (Retrieved on May 28, 2014 from http://photographsbyseon.wordpress.com/ 2010/02/27/the-snow-phallus-is-back/)

Colleges and universities in which there is a rape culture present within their fraternities are not only sexist and harmful, but criminal. When all those who are supposed to protect women from harm, and support them in their reporting and recovery, but do not do so, and instead, support the actions of the rapist, they embolden and enable such men to continue their criminal actions, believing they can get away with it, because they have gotten away with it. It has been my experience that this hidden rape culture within certain fraternities at UB has continued and has been perpetuated. The annual tradition of fraternity men creating snow sculptures of ejaculating penises is only one reflection that this hidden rape culture within UB’s fraternities still exists, and is very much alive and well.

Lastly, when I completed my studies at UB in 1992, and returned to attend the graduation ceremony in 1993, it was a Division III institution. There had been a lot of talk and news about the possibility of UB going to Division I. Many students did not think it would happen; in fact, many hoped that it would not happen, including myself. This is because there was a belief among students that football would detract from UB’s reputation as a renowned research university in the Northeastern United States. My experience, as well as that of many students and faculty, was to observe that to occur.

In 1994 and 1995, I returned to UB and took several classes as an open student. I completed undergraduate courses, a graduate course, and a post-graduate class. It was during that time that I realized that the atmosphere and mood at UB had changed. Football became the “all important” aspect of UB. An example of that occurred in my sociology class. In my class were three football players who had extremely disrespectful attitudes and toilet mouths. They were disrespectful to the instructor, resistant and angry about having to attend class (and often, did not do so), and sat in the back of the class, swearing and causing disruption. Unfortunately, because they were football players, they were “untouchable.” They got away with all of these behaviors, and appeared to have the support of the heads of the athletics department in their unruliness. They acted abominably and they got away with it. Professors were afraid to speak out and express themselves about the manner in which education was deteriorating at UB, having been replaced with football, so lauded and supported by the institution’s president.

Women who enter UB, as well as other colleges and universities, must be informed and educated about these types of issues that are present in institutions of higher education so that we can better empower, bond with, and protect ourselves. Our society so often teaches girls and women that we must sacrifice ourselves, our identities, our safety, our intelligence, our feelings, our bodies to men. In order to survive and even prosper, women have often learned that it is a man’s world, and that we must be submissive and/or subservient to men. There are men and women who perpetuate this societal standard when they promote issues such as sexism and inequality toward women, as well as issues including sexual assault and rape. Denying and turning a blind eye to resolving these issues only promotes a culture that becomes even more sexist, unequal, harmful, and violent toward women and girls.

Prestigious universities such as UB have an opportunity to get back on the right track. College and university leaders must remain open-minded when faced with issues such as sexism, inequality, and sexual assault on campus, including rapes experienced by both women and men. They must not attempt to hide, cover up, ridicule, deny, or minimize these situations. Doing so only worsens and perpetuates them. College and university leaders must promote environments on campus that are fair and equal, respectful and appreciative, caring and sensitive.

I went to UB to gain an excellent education. While I, indeed, obtained a great education from an outstanding institution, I also graduated from UB, unnecessarily, as a rape victim and survivor. 😦 No one did anything to prevent or stop it from happening then, and to my knowledge, the culture there has not changed for the better for women, thus still perpetuating its continuance now.  UB did not make it better for me, but it can still make things better for others.

Author’s Note: This post – along with dozens of others regarding campus sexual assault – is listed on the National Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence website as of January 1, 2015 at: http://www.ncdsv.org/publications_sa-campus.html .

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UB Needs to get it Right (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

When I was a student at the University at Buffalo (UB), I had some really great experiences.  In prior posts in this blog, I have described many of my wonderful experiences.  I also had many unpleasant, hurtful, and traumatic experiences.  Describing about some of these situations, to follow, I will also provide some suggestions to officials at UB so that such situations are not repeated with other students.

1) In 1993, I earned a baccalaureate degree in psychology and a bachelor’s degree in political science.  This is a particular detail that is important to me, especially because the University at Buffalo Records and Registration Department (R&R) erred in identifying my accomplishment over a period of 10 – yes 10 – years. Additionally – and while I still very much appreciate it – UB’s President at the time, Dr. William Greiner – also erred on this detail in a recommendation he completed for me, such recommendation that is published in it’s entirety elsewhere in this blog.  On my official UB transcript from 1993-2003, R&R reflected that I earned only one BA, however that was incorrect.

When I went to R&R, personally, several times during the course of that decade, no one would listen to me.  I was brushed off and not taken seriously at all when I repeatedly told people in R&R that their records were incorrect.  Personally, I went to R&R and I wrote letters to several individuals over that period of 10 years until someone finally listened to me, verified that what I stated about my degrees was correct, and corrected my official transcript to reflect both of my degrees earned.

I am sure that anyone in my situation would feel similarly, particularly after experiencing what I have in regard to years of trying to see to it that my educational achievements have been correctly recorded and documented by UB officials.  This is particularly important when people read my resume, and other career-related documents, because I list my educational achievement of the two degrees correctly.

When this error was made during that decade, many believed that I was in error, and therefore, also dishonest, when it was UB that was in error.  I spent $10,000s on my education, including for the acquisition of my second BA at UB.  I also invested an obscene amount of credit hours to earn both of those degrees over a period of less than 3.5 years.  It is important, therefore, that UB has it right!

UB Partial View of Governor's Complex Dorms (Retrieved on May 28, 2014 fromhttp://housing.buffalo.edu/roosevelt.php)

UB Partial View of Governor’s Complex Dorms (Retrieved on May 28, 2014 fromhttp://housing.buffalo.edu/roosevelt.php)

2) In my first semester at UB, I experienced bullying by my roommate.  She was often disruptive in our dorm room by coming back in the wee hours of the morning with her boyfriend, who would also spend the rest of the night in our dorm room.  She also often moved my things and made many attempts at taking over my space, which we had originally divided evenly.  On frigid winter nights, she would also open the window to it’s full four feet, and expect that it would be acceptable to me that we should freeze.  She would often turn up her stereo volume loudly when I was quietly studying in our dorm room.  And, she had a nasty habit of slamming the door to our dorm room, which as you can imagine, endeared her to everyone on the hall (realize I am being sarcastic here).

I tried to speak with my roommate many times about my concerns, trying to reach agreement and compromise with her, however she always refused.  It always had to be her way.  Therefore, I repeatedly reported these situations to my graduate resident advisor, and repeatedly asked to move, though he did nothing until a situation occurred in which we were both required to move out of the dorm room as a result of our behavior toward each other.  Bullying and the creation of a hostile environment in dorm rooms are issues that UB definitely needs to take more seriously.

Ejaculating Snow Penis at UB in 2010 (Retrieved on May 28, 2014 from http://photographsbyseon.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/the-snow-phallus-is-back/) (Definitely offensive to UB rape survivors)

Ejaculating Snow Penis at UB in 2010 (Retrieved on May 28, 2014 from http://photographsbyseon.wordpress.com/ 2010/02/27/the-snow-phallus-is-back/) (Definitely offensive to UB rape survivors)

3) What I will always remember as a traumatic and negatively life-changing experience at UB was when I was sexually assaulted in my dorm room during my last semester there.  Four people were aware of what occurred, though no one reported it.  Two of those people became accomplices to the man who raped me by not reporting it.  It took me about 2.5 years to gain the courage and overcome the humiliation to report this crime.  When I did so at UB, one of the public safety chiefs laughed out loud about what had occurred.  I felt like an ant that had just been smashed.

That was only the beginning of the repeated process of revictimization I experienced as a result of this crime that, to this day, has not been resolved to my satisfaction, and regarding which the offender was never charged or prosecuted.  Additionally, a description of what occurred, as well the offender’s name and other identifying information such as his birthday (both of which I will always remember, by the way), have been deleted from the report that I filed at UB.  I am thankful, however, for the female public safety officer who treated me with kindness and respect.  She was the only person in the entire legal process who supported me in any way.

When I attempted to reach out, prior to finally officially reporting the sexual assault, to several UB administrators and/or their family members, I was ostracized and turned away.  On a number of occasions, I tried to reach out to UB President Bill Greiner by sending him short correspondence.  The answer that I received to my correspondence was from then-Dean of Students Dennis Black, threatening criminal action against me if I continued my communications with Bill!  These were communications that were appropriate, and in which I was merely attempting to reach out for some emotional support and assistance.  I did not get that from anyone at UB except the female public safety officer who originally took my report, and who was kind and professional toward me.

Shortly after reporting the sexual assault and experiencing repeated revictimization through the legal process of doing so, I wrote and posted about my experience at UB and other area campuses in an effort to educate and inform other students about my experience, in the hope that they would be able to protect themselves against something similar happening to them.  One day when I posted my writings at UB, a UB official approached me and told me not to post my information.  This only caused me to post and write about it more.  Such insensitivity and lack of understanding was incredible to me!

UB Partial View of Ellicott Complex Dorms (Retrieved on May 28, 2014 from Google Images of the University at Buffalo)

UB Partial View of Ellicott Complex Dorms (Retrieved on May 28, 2014 from Google Images of the University at Buffalo)

Therefore, I have a number of suggestions to UB officials in regard to these situations.  For #1, there should be an audit process at UB that reviews students’ degrees to be sure that the information on record is accurate.  For the information about my degrees to be recorded and repeatedly documented incorrectly, over a period of 10 years, and still to the present day, is absolutely unacceptable.  Also unacceptable was the treatment that I received by individuals in R&R who repeatedly refused to listen to me, nor consider that my information to them was correct and that they were in error.

In association with #2, all too often bullying and a hostile environment are created when people take no action to stop it and/or resolve the situations.  The graduate resident advisor to whom I repeatedly reported these situations did nothing until a serious situation occurred that was unresolvable.  Those who oversee the welfare of others must take seriously the issues of bullying and a hostile environment so that worse situations are not provoked into occurring.

Regarding #3, no one was there for me at UB when I was sexually assaulted.  When I turned to many people, no one helped me.  Being so hurt and humiliated by this violent and traumatizing experience in which I was internally-injured, I blocked it out for a period of a few years before returning to UB to report it, as well as to seek support and assistance for my recovery outside of UB.  I have spent $1,000s on my recovery from this painful trauma, such assistance having been a great benefit and self-help for me.  For any UB official to minimize, ridicule, disbelieve, overlook, deny, and/or cover up this crime, as well as to revictimize me as the survivor is abominable, and there were a number who did so.

UB can establish programs to support sexual trauma survivors, and can also educate about sexual trauma, including how it occurs and how vulnerable individuals can protect themselves from it.  UB can also train it’s officials in regard to responding more sensitively and effectively to those who have experienced sexual traumas on campus.

Myself on Graduation Day at the University at Buffalo, New York, May 16, 1993

Myself on Graduation Day at the University at Buffalo, New York, May 16, 1993

Individuals at UB are what make up UB.  Each individual is a part of the whole, and when any individual is harmed, the whole is also harmed.  The institution should not be more important than the individual, however that was repeatedly proven to me in what I experienced.  So, while I had many wonderful experiences at UB, many of which I have written about in this blog, I have also experienced these hurtful situations.  I expected more from UB, but in regard to these specific situations, I received less.  As a result, I am speaking out, and have already spoken out in several capacities, particularly in regard to being sexually assaulted.

UB will not silence me, nor overlook, minimize, or ridicule my experience, nor succeed in revictimizing me.  Rather than attempt that, why not take action to help and support survivors and victims of sexual trauma that has occurred on campus? Indeed, I have become an activist and advocate for those who are minimized and bullied, as well as for those who have experienced sexual trauma.  I am also a supporter for the recovery of those of all ages, including children, who have suicidal ideation, particularly as a result of sexual trauma.

My experience of being sexually assaulted at UB has been singular in my advocacy for sexual trauma survivors.  So, while being sexually assaulted at UB created much hurt and pain in my life, the good thing is that it has caused me to become an advocate for others who have had similar experiences.  I also try to be aware of speaking and reaching out to those who will actually be helpful to survivors and victims.  Particularly in this area, UB can do better!

Recently, a UB official contacted me via LinkedIn through my personal email account, and requested that I write a recommendation for UB.  Due to the above-described information, I am unable to author a recommendation for UB, however information about many of my positive experiences as a student at UB can be found in prior posts within this blog.

There is good and bad everywhere and in everything, however UB still needs to show me that it can get it right with regard to these issues!

Author’s Note (June 5, 2014): Since posting a UB article about Nursing Week, and how UB could potentially take some initiative within the nursing program to implement programs for student survivors of sexual trauma that has occurred on campus, my comments and posts in the LinkedIn group, University at Buffalo Alumni, have been restricted.  I have attempted to post additional comments and articles, and have requested of the group manager that I be free to post, however she has responded to me that I am, however she has not approved my comments or posts.  Currently, this is the only LinkedIn group (out of 51 groups) in which a manager has not changed my settings to be free to post, nor has approved all of my comments and posts.

It also seems that this is a greater reflection on UB that when controversial issues arise, there are attempts at silencing them.  This is another reason why The Spectrum, the student newspaper at UB, is independent of the university – because of the politics involved in students previously being unable to publish freely, without experiencing retaliation, threats, and/or attempts at silencing them from UB officials.  My view is that my article is an opportunity for people at UB to take initiative regarding these issues and make improvements rather than attempt to silence them and prevent freedom of speech.

 

 

The Gernatt’s of Western New York State in the 1980s and 1990s (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Dan Gernatt, Sr. and Flavia Gernatt, 1990s

Dan Gernatt, Sr. and Flavia Gernatt, 1990s

As you have likely read in a prior post to this blog, a person who was inspiring and to whom I looked up to as a role model when I was a teen and young adult was Flavia “Feggie” (Schmitt) Gernatt (now deceased).  Growing up, I lived in the same neighborhood of Seneca Heights and Taylor Hollow in Collins, New York in Western New York State as Feggie and many members of her family and extended family.  Feggie and her husband, Dan Sr., lived in Collins, right next to the main headquarters of one of their gravel and asphalt plants.

Next door to Dan Sr. and Feggie lived their son, Dan Jr., and his family.  Just a couple of doors down the road from them and across the street lives her eldest daughter, Patricia Rebmann.  The Rebmann Family has lived there for decades, having raised about 10 children.  And, in a neighboring town has lived Feggie’s and Dan’s youngest daughter, Phyllis.  Phyllis and her family have lived in Perrysburg for many years.  Many years ago, Phyllis and her family gave a cute teddy bear as a gift to my son when he was a newborn.

Gernatt Stallion, Sir Taurus, 1989

Gernatt Stallion, Sir Taurus, 1989

I got to know the Gernatt’s by living in the same neighborhood and by attending the same church, St. Joseph Church in Gowanda, New York and the Diocese of Buffalo, of the Roman Catholic faith.  I was also familiar with some of the Gernatt’s racing stallions since they were housed in my neighborhood.  While the Gernatt’s and Rebmann’s had always attended the church’s parochial school at that time, I also got to know them and was familiar with them through bus rides to and from school.  Donald Gernatt, the youngest son of Dan Jr. and Dolores “Dolly” (Stelmach) Gernatt, and my brother, were friends, striking up a friendship on those occasional bus rides that Don took to and from school (most of the time, he was driven to or from school).  Indeed, my brother’s first employer was Dan Gernatt, Jr. at one of his gravel and asphalt companies.

The older children of Dan Jr. and Dolly are Dianna (Gernatt) Saraf and Dan III.  Dan Jr. and Dolly are divorced, and Dan is married to his second wife, Roseann (Morgano) Gernatt.  As a kid, I also knew some of the younger Rebmann kids, including Dave, Barb, and Jeanne, through church as well as Girl Scouts.  Some of the older Rebmann’s continued to live in Seneca Heights after getting married and having their own families.

The Ulmer Family, 2000

The Ulmer Family, 2000

In my mid-teens, I would often attend daily mass at St. Joseph Church, and discovered that many in the Gernatt extended family did, as well.  Through church and mass, I got to know and become familiar with Dan Sr.’s and Feggie’s daughter, Phyllis Ulmer, and her family.  Phyllis and her husband, Rich (now deceased) have two adult sons, and Rich has two adult children from a prior marriage.  Phyllis and Rich have been involved in the church and school in many capacities.  I also got to know and become more familiar with Dan Sr., Feggie, and Dan Jr., as they regularly attended daily mass, as well.

I remember back to the time when I was a student at the University at Buffalo and on Spring Break that my car had broken down, and after asking Dan Sr. and Feggie to transport me to and from daily mass for a few days, they did so.  They included me as their guest in the light breakfast that followed a 6:30 AM mass during Lent at that time, and were very kind to me.  I further got to know Feggie a bit more while catching up with her and walking with her, occasionally, on walks through our neighborhood.  Feggie was a wise, intelligent, insightful, and strong woman.

The Gernatt and Saraf Families, 1980s

The Gernatt and Saraf Families, 1980s

As a high school junior, a friend of mine began dating one of the Rebmann’s.  This young man was a cousin and friend to Don Gernatt, and so, I asked my friend if she would pass along to him that I was interested in seeing him, if he was available.  It was at that time in 1987 that I dated Don for a few months, until my family’s out-of-state vacation interfered with Don’s prom.  I remember him as an exceptional gentleman who treated me with kindness, appreciation, honor, respect, and dignity, in the manner that I believe that all men should treat women.  Since that time, I have found no one with whom I have been romantically involved to have met or exceeded the standard that he set for me in men.

Looking back, I wish someone had told me that most people would not be as kind or respectful of me as Don was.  Then, I would not have held my expectations so high.  While Don and his family members are multimillionaires who are very powerful and influential in New York State business and politics, and in the Roman Catholic Church, my interest in him had never been about money, but in him as a person.  Indeed, the only financial support I ever received from the Gernatt Family was through a $50 sponsorship when I participated in the Miss Teen of New York Pageant in 1987.  Further, I had always observed Don to be kind and good-hearted, even toward those who were jealous of him during our rides on the school bus.  Don is the only member of the Gernatt family and extended family with whom I have ever been romantically involved.

I suppose that when people get to a certain age, they may recall the past and certain past experiences that are always prominent in their memories.  Don and his family live in Springville, New York, while Dianna and her family live in Hamburg, New York.  And, while we have all gone on our separate paths in life now and I no longer have connections to these families, I can still recall many fond memories that I have of dating my first boyfriend, Don.

All other men whom I have dated since my first boyfriend are those who can take lessons from Don in how to treat a woman with respect, honor, dignity, and appreciation.  I am thankful that I was able to experience from him the manner in which men should treat their romantic partners.  I hope that I will have taught my own son to be as respectful of a gentleman toward women as my first boyfriend was to me.

Sources:

Michele Babcock-Nice (March 17, 2014).  Having a Love for Horses: Remembering Sir Taurus and Elitist.  Blogbymichele.WordPress.com.  Retrieved on May 5, 2014 from http://wp.me/p25c1A-qi

Michele Babcock-Nice (February 3, 2012).  In Remembrance of Flavia C. Gernatt.  Blogbymichele.WordPress.com.  Retrieved on April 28, 2014 from http://wp.me/p25c1A-3O

Michele Babcock-Nice (2014).  Photograph collection of Michele Babcock-Nice, 1971-2014.  (Photos of the Gernatt’s, Ulmer’s, and Sir Taurus from their families/owners, 1980s-1990s.)  Snellville, Georgia.

References:

Gernatt Asphalt Products, Inc. (2001).  Retrieved on April 28, 2014 from http://www.gernatt.com/

Wikipedia (2014).   Daniel and Flavia Gernatt Family Foundation.  Retrieved on April 28, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_and_Flavia_Gernatt_Family_Foundation

Wikipedia (2014).  Gernatt Family of Companies.  Retrieved on April 28, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gernatt_Family_of_Companies

Wikipedia (2014).  Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.  Retrieved on May 6, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_Diocese_of_Buffalo

Wikipedia (2014).  St. Joseph Parish, Gowanda, New York.  Retrieved on April 28, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Joseph_Parish,_Gowanda,_New_York

My Babcock, Gould, Crawford, Kibbe, Prince, Curtis, Mather, McEwen, and Hoyler Family Ancestry Photos (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

My great grandfather, Jonathan Mead Babcock (1878-1933), was the son of Samuel and Jane Babcock of Villenova (Balsam), New York, near South Dayton in Western New York State, outside of Buffalo.  Beyond them, I do not know anything more about my Babcock side of the family.  While there are several Babcock’s buried in Villenova Cemetery, the resting place of my great grandfather and great grandmother, Bertha B. (Gould) Babcock (1880-1963), I am unsure whether or not Jonathan had any brothers or sisters.  I would tend to believe that he was an only child.  When he was born, he weighed 13 pounds.  Perhaps that was enough for his mother to desire not having more children, I don’t know.  Jonathan Mead Babcock was born in 1878 and died on May 5, 1933; he was only 55 years old.  As a man, he was tall at 6’4.”  He worked as the Collins Railroad Foreman and Collins Town Constable.

Bertha B. (Gould) Babcock, Jonathan’s wife, was born in 1880 and died on May 11, 1963; she was 82 years old.  Both she and several of her family’s ancestors are also buried in Villenova Cemetery.  Bertha was one of two daughters born to Albert Allen (called “Arnold”) Gould (1856-1940)and Nancy Ann M. (Rump) Gould (1859-1914).  Nancy was Albert’s first wife; she died and Albert married his second wife, Addie (Prince) Gould.  (Addie Prince had a sister, known as Mrs. Hoyler, whom Bertha called, “Grandma;” I have a photo of her.  I believe that Mrs. Hoyler was Addie’s mother.)  Albert Gould’s parents were Alden Gould (1829-1913) and Arvilla (Barstow) Gould (1829?-1906, age 76).  Bertha’s sister was Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston.

Addie Prince’s first husband was Job Prince.  They had at least three children, whom I know to be Bessie Prince, Glenn Prince, and Mrs. Harry Trimmer.  Bessie Prince married Charles J. Woodmansee, and they had two daughters, Adiline Woodmansee and Vivian Woodmansee.  I know that Vivian married Clarence Stoddart, and they had two daughters, Joyce Stoddart and June Stoddart.  Glenn Prince married May L. (Baxter) Prince, and they had two children, Winston B. Prince and Ruth V. Prince.  Ruth married Ed C. Sterry.  They had two sons, Ed B. Sterry and Clendon Sterry.  That is as much information as I have on the descendants of the Prince Family.

Hazel (Gould) Crawford (and later, Houston) and her husband had two daughters, Bessie (Crawford) Kibbe and Thelma (Crawford) Ulander.  Hazel’s first husband was Frank Crawford, who moved to South Dayton from Ohio, as an employee of the Stove Mill Company.  After Frank’s death, Hazel married her second husband, Vernon Houston; they had no children. Thelma and her husband lived in Jamestown, New York; they did not have any children.

Bessie (Crawford) Kibbe married James Kibbe, and they had one son, Bryan Kibbe.  Both Bessie’s husband and son predeceased her; Bessie lives in Falconer, New York and is 95 years old.  Bryan developed multiple sclerosis when he was about three-years-old, and struggled with it throughout his life.  He died as a bachelor a few years ago at about age 50.  James Kibbe also died a few years ago.  There are several Kibbe’s that live in Falconer and throughout the United States.  They are all cousins (now far-removed) to my family.

Cousins to my dad on my great grandmother Bertha’s side of the family further include the Curtis’ and Mather’s.  One of Nancy Rump’s sisters was Louise (Rump) Curtis.  Louise married Albert F. Curtis, and they had two children, John Henry “Henry” Curtis and a woman known as Mrs. George L. (Curtis) Mather – it is possible that her first name was also Louise, just as her mother’s.  Henry Curtis never married, and remained a bachelor all of his life.  Henry was an army veteran of World War II.  Albert and Louise Curtis’ daughter married George L. Mather, and they had two children, Curtis G. Mather and Lettie Mather.  Lettie Curtis Mather was born in South Dayton on July 13, 1891 and died in Jamestown, New York on October 9, 1962.

Henry Curtis had been engaged in his early life, though his fiancé broke off the engagement.  From what I understand, he became a miserable and unhappy person after that, and seemed to never recover from it.  I remember meeting him at my grandmother’s home when I was about 10 years old.  All of the other adults did not want me to be around him, and I discovered why – because nearly every other word that he spoke was profanity.  He also spoke very loudly, actually shouting, though he may have done so because he was hard of hearing, I don’t know.  At that time, he was about 95 years old.  I felt sorry for him, and wondered why anyone could be so miserable and unhappy.  Henry died when he was 98 years old – the oldest of my known ancestors.

Curtis Mather, the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Mather, worked for an electric company.  A tragedy occurred during his work in which he was electrocuted, and died.  Therefore, Lettie Mather continued on the descendants of that side of the family.  I discovered this upon speaking with the mother of Michael Denea (formerly of Gowanda, New York) when we began talking about family ancestry while I was about 14 years old.

At the time, I was taking summer piano lessons from Michael, who is an accomplished pianist, and now also an attorney, possibly living in Arizona upon my last knowledge.  Mrs. Denea informed me that she was a descendant of the Curtis Family, which would make she and her family far-removed cousins of my family.  Michael is a fifth cousin to me.  Mrs. Denea provided me with several antique bibles that had been kept in her family.  She handed them down to me – four bibles – which I still have and maintain.

Going back to the Babcock side of the family, Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock had three children, including Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury, Louise (Babcock) Heppel, and Charles Albert Babcock (1911-1961).  Charles worked at the Ford Motor Company factory in Lackawanna, New York for a few years before becoming employed with the State of New York in Gowanda in the business office of the Gowanda Psychiatric Center.  Charles married Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock (and later, Sprague) of North Collins, New York (I have presented photos and information about her and her family in prior posts).

Eunice Babcock married a Mr. McEwen (I don’t know his first name), and they had two sons, Clarence “Clair” McEwen and Leland McEwen.  Clair married Mary (I don’t know her maiden name), and they had five children.  Their children were Butch, John, Dicky, Betty, and Tom McEwen.  When Mr. McEwen died, Eunice married her second husband, Floyd Hembury; they did not have any children.

When I was in my teens, Clair and his son, Tom, visited my family in Collins, New York, having traveled from Pennsylvania.  Clair was very elderly at that time, and he had wanted to get in touch with the family in Collins.  Likely, Clair died shortly after that; we have not heard from them, nor stayed in touch following that time.  I know that Betty married Joe Hembury; Eunice married her second husband, Floyd Hembury after Mr. McEwen died; and Tom McEwen is father to two girls, including Keeley and another daughter whose name I do not remember.

Louise (Babcock) Heppel married George Heppel in Collins, New York; they had no children.  My father remembered that Louise had epilepsy, and experienced seizures.  He also said that whenever Louise visited his family’s home, George never accompanied her.  He said that he never met George during his life.  Therefore, we don’t know much of anything about George, and have only one picture that includes him – the wedding picture that includes him with Louise, as well as Charles and Eunice.

Charles A. Babcock married Bernice Gale (Briggs) Babcock (and later, Sprague) (1912-1987).  They had one child, a son named, Bruce (born 1943), who is my father.  Bruce married Anna Maria (Krakowiak) Babcock (born 1944) in 1963, and they have two children, Michele Elizabeth Babcock-Nice (me) (born 1971) and my brother (born in 1972, who is divorced and does not have children). (I will provide more detail about the Krakowiak Family in another post.)

My dad worked for the State of New York in Gowanda, New York at the Gowanda Psychiatric Center (34 years) and Gowanda Correctional Facility (3 years), once the State Mental Hospital was transitioned into the Gowanda Prison.  Nearly the entire time that he worked at the Psychiatric Center, he was a stationary engineer in the Power Plant.  My parents also owned and operated a Sears Retail Catalog Store in Gowanda, New York for many years.

I married John Robert Nice, Jr. (born 1966), a high school physics teacher, in 2002.  John and his family are from Jacksonville, Florida, though John moved to and has lived in the Atlanta, Georgia area for about 20 years.  John has one sister and several half and/or adopted siblings, through the marriages of his parents.  John is a graduate of Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute in Rochester, New York.  He also attended Florida State University to obtain his teaching certificate.  (I will provide more detail about the Nice Family in another post.)

I moved to the Atlanta area for a professional employment opportunity in teaching in 2000.  I had interviewed in many states along the East Coast of the United States for full-time work in teaching; DeKalb offered me the best package, and so, I moved to Atlanta.  I had been a volunteer, substitute, and short-term substitute teacher in several school districts in Western New York State for a few years, but was not offered any full-time teaching positions there, though I had applied to about one dozen school systems.

Still single, and having no immediate family ties of my own holding me to the Buffalo area, I decided to move since I was in financial need and had no full-time work in my field.  After living in Atlanta for about 1.5 years, John and I were introduced to each other, blindly, but through a mutual teaching colleague in the DeKalb County School System.  Within 1.5 years of meeting each other, John and I were married.  The next year, our wonderful son was born; he is now nearly 11.  John divorced from me in 2009, following our separation, totaling 3 years.  We have each remained single since then.

I am a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo (University of Buffalo); the State University of New York College at Buffalo (Buffalo State College); and Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, Georgia.  I also attended the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland through the University at Buffalo’s Study Abroad Program; and I am currently attending Argosy University in Atlanta.  I have two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s degree; am certified as a middle grades teacher (grades 4-8) in social studies and science, and in grades 4-12 social studies; and I am pursuing my second master’s degree, this one in counseling.  My total teaching experience, including voluntary, substitute, and full-time work, spans 15 years.

Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Alden and Arvilla (Barstow) Gould, and Albert and Nancy (Rump) Gould, are buried in Villenova Cemetery in Balsam, near South Dayton, New York.  Clarence and Julia (Gale) Briggs, and Charles Albert Babcock and Bernice Gale (Briggs) Babcock Sprague, are buried in the Protestant Cemetery in North Collins, New York.

Author’s Note: Information and images identifying my brother have been removed from this post as of April 27, 2016 as a courtesy per his request.

Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Gowanda, NY, Circa 1900

Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Gowanda, NY, Circa 1900

Jonathan Babcock (Left), Lawrence, Mike P., and Andrew P. Working on Railroad, Collins, NY, Circa 1890-1900

Jonathan Babcock (Left), Lawrence, Mike P., and Andrew P. Working on Railroad, Collins, NY, Circa 1890-1900

Jonathan Babcock and Frank Briggs at Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, Circa 1900-1910

Jonathan Babcock and Frank Briggs at Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, Circa 1900-1910

Jonathan Babcock and Horse, Collins, NY, Circa 1900-1910

Jonathan Babcock and Horse, Collins, NY, Circa 1900-1910

Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Sister of Charles A. Babcock, Collins, NY, Circa 1910

Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Sister of Charles A. Babcock, Collins, NY, Circa 1910

Charles A. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1911

Charles A. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1911

Eunice (Married Names-McEwen, Hembury), Charles A., & Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Collins, NY, 1913

Eunice (Married Names-McEwen, Hembury), Charles A., & Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Collins, NY, 1913

Charles A. Babcock, Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, 1914

Charles A. Babcock, Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, 1914

Addie (Prince) Gould and Arnold Gould with Bertha (Gould) Babcock, South Dayton, New York, 1930

Addie (Prince) Gould and Arnold Gould with Bertha (Gould) Babcock, South Dayton, New York, 1930

Mrs. Hoyler, South Dayton, New York, 1930

Mrs. Hoyler, South Dayton, New York, 1930

Bertha (Gould) Babcock (Left, Wife of Jonathan Babcock) with Neighbor, Collins, NY, 1960

Bertha (Gould) Babcock (Left, Wife of Jonathan Babcock) with Neighbor, Collins, NY, 1960

Bertha (Gould) Babcock, South Dayton, NY, 1890

Bertha (Gould) Babcock, South Dayton, NY, 1890

Charles A. Babcock, George Heppel, Louise (Babcock) Heppel, and Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury, Collins, NY, 1925

Charles A. Babcock, George Heppel, Louise (Babcock) Heppel, and Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury, Collins, NY, 1925

George Heppel and Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Circa 1930s-1940s, Collins, New York

George Heppel and Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Circa 1930s-1940s, Collins, New York

Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Eunice (Babcock) Hembury, Arnold and Addie Gould, South Dayton, NY, 1930

Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Eunice (Babcock) Hembury, Arnold and Addie Gould, South Dayton, NY, 1930

Louise (Babcock) Heppel and Jonathan Babcock, Collins, NY,  August 29, 1932

Louise (Babcock) Heppel and Jonathan Babcock, Collins, NY, August 29, 1932

Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury and Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Collins, NY, 1920

Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury and Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Collins, NY, 1920

Thelma (Crawford) Ulander, Bessie (Crawford) Kibbe, & Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, Falconer, NY, Circa 1920

Thelma (Crawford) Ulander, Bessie (Crawford) Kibbe, & Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, Falconer, NY, Circa 1920

Thelma Ulander, Jamestown, New York, 1930s

Thelma Ulander, Jamestown, New York, 1930s

Bryan Kibbe, Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Collins, NY, 1960

Bryan Kibbe, Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Collins, NY, 1960

John and Carol McEwen, Pennsylvania, Circa 1950 (Cousins to the Babcock's)

John and Carol McEwen, Pennsylvania, Circa 1950 (Cousins to the Babcock’s)

Frank Crawford and Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, Jamestown, New York, Circa 1890

Frank Crawford and Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, Jamestown, New York, Circa 1890

Henry Curtis, Circa 1930s

Henry Curtis, Circa 1930s

Henry Curtis and Beth, May 1943

Henry Curtis and Beth, May 1943

Henry Curtis, May 1941

Henry Curtis, May 1941

Curtis Mather, Jamestown, New York, 1918

Curtis Mather, Jamestown, New York, 1918

Curtis Mather or Henry Curtis, Forestville, New York, 1920s

Curtis Mather or Henry Curtis, Forestville, New York, 1920s

Henry Curtis

Henry Curtis

Bernice (Briggs) and Charles A. Babcock, Gowanda, NY, 1933

Bernice (Briggs) and Charles A. Babcock, Gowanda, NY, 1933

Charles A., Bernice, & Bruce E. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1948

Charles A., Bernice, and Bruce E. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1948

Bruce Babcock on his Second Birthday, Collins, NY, August 1945

Bruce Babcock on his Second Birthday, Collins, NY, August 1945

Bruce Babcock as a Child

Bruce Babcock as a Child

Boy Scout Bruce E. Babcock (Age 11), Collins, NY, September 1954

Boy Scout Bruce E. Babcock (Age 11), Collins, NY, September 1954

Bruce Babcock as a Young Man

Bruce Babcock as a Young Man

Bruce Babcock Senior High School Photo, Gowanda, New York, 1960

Bruce Babcock Senior High School Photo, Gowanda, New York, 1960

Bruce Babcock, Collins, New York, Christmas 1960

Bruce Babcock, Collins, New York, Christmas 1960

Bruce Babcock in Psychiatric Attendant's Class at Gowanda Psychiatric Center, Helmuth (Gowanda), NY, 1963

Bruce Babcock in Psychiatric Attendant’s Class at Gowanda Psychiatric Center, Helmuth (Gowanda), NY, 1963

Gowanda Psychiatric Center Aerial View, Helmuth (Gowanda), New York, Circa 1960-1970 By Dexter Press, Inc. (West Nyack, NY) and Aerial Surveys, Henry DeWolf (Rochester, NY)

Gowanda Psychiatric Center Aerial View, Helmuth (Gowanda), New York, Circa 1960-1970 By Dexter Press, Inc. (West Nyack, NY) and Aerial Surveys, Henry DeWolf (Rochester, NY)

Bruce and Anna (Krakowiak) Babcock Wedding, July 1963, St. Joseph Church, Gowanda, New York

Bruce and Anna (Krakowiak) Babcock Wedding, July 1963, St. Joseph Church, Gowanda, New York

Bruce and Anna Babcock, and Parents at Wedding, July 1963, Gowanda, New York

Bruce and Anna Babcock, and Parents at Wedding, July 1963, Gowanda, New York

This is a photo of my parents on their wedding day in July 1963.  From left to right are Emmett Sprague, Bernice Gale (Briggs) Babcock Sprague, Bruce Babcock, Anna (Krakowiak) Babcock, Wladislawa “Lottie” (Bulera) Krakowiak, and John Krakowiak.

Hazel Houston and Thelma Ulander with Baby Michele Babcock, Collins, New York, August 1971

Hazel Houston and Thelma Ulander with Baby Michele Babcock, Collins, New York, August 1971

Bessie Kibbe, Thelma Ulander, and Michele Babcock, Collins, New York, October 1973

Bessie Kibbe, Thelma Ulander, and Michele Babcock, Collins, New York, October 1973

Bernice (Briggs) Babcock-Sprague with Grandchildren Michele E. & Charles J. Babcock, Collins, NY, November 16, 1974 (3) - Copy

Bernice Briggs Babcock Sprague with Michele Babcock (-Nice), November 1974

Michele E. Babcock, First Communion, Gowanda, NY, 1978

Michele E. Babcock, First Communion, Gowanda, NY, 1978

Michele Babcock Taking Piano Lessons from Michael Denea, Perrysburg, New York, 1985

Michele Babcock Taking Piano Lessons from Michael Denea, Perrysburg, New York, 1985

Michael Denea is my fifth cousin.  We are related because my great grandmother Bertha (Gould) Babcock’s mother, Nancy Ann (Rump) Gould, was a sister to his great great grandmother, Louise (Rump) Curtis, on his mom’s side of his family.

Tom and Clair McEwen, Collins, New York, 1987

Tom and Clair McEwen, Collins, New York, 1987

Thelma Ulander, and Michele and Chuck Babcock, Jamestown, New York, 1987 (3) - Copy

Thelma Ulander and Michele Babcock (-Nice), Jamestown, New York, 1987

Jim and Bessie Kibbe, and Anna and Bruce Babcock, Falconer, New York, 1987

Jim and Bessie Kibbe, and Anna and Bruce Babcock, Falconer, New York, 1987

Bryan Kibbe and Michele Babcock, Falconer, New York, 1987

Bryan Kibbe and Michele Babcock, Falconer, New York, 1987

Michele Babcock, Miss Teen of NY Personal Development Award Recipient, 1987

Michele Babcock, Miss Teen of NY Personal Development Award Recipient, 1987

Michele Babcock, University at Buffalo Senior Portrait, 1992

Michele Babcock, University at Buffalo Senior Portrait, 1992

Christmas with The Nice's-John Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son, Baby's First Christmas, Conyers, Georgia, 2003

Christmas with The Nice’s-John Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son, Baby’s First Christmas, Conyers, Georgia, 2003

John Nice, Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son at Kindergarten Graduation, Lilburn, Georgia, 2009

John Nice, Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son at Kindergarten Graduation, Lilburn, Georgia, 2009

Family Disney Picture 2006

Family Disney Picture, (Bruce, Anna, Michele and Son with Mickey Mouse), Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, 2006

Four Generations of Cousins-Babcock's, Nice's, Kibbe's, Falconer, New York, 2005 (Jim, Bruce, Baby, Michele, Bessie)

Four Generations of Cousins-Babcock’s, Nice’s, Kibbe’s, Falconer, New York, 2005 (Jim, Bruce, Baby, Michele, Bessie)

Bessie Kibbe with Michele Babcock-Nice and Michele's Son, Summer 2012

Bessie Kibbe (Age 93) with Michele Babcock-Nice and Michele’s Son, Summer 2012

My Webelos Cub Scout Son, 2013

My Webelos Cub Scout Son, 2013

Since the captions associated with each of the photos are self-explanatory, I have not added more information to follow each one in this post.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading and understanding more about my family heritage!

Sources:

Dexter Press, Inc. (West Nyack, NY) and Aerial Surveys, Henry DeWolf (Rochester, NY), 1960-1970. Gowanda Psychiatric Center Aerial View, Helmuth (Gowanda), New York.

Photos and information of Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague, 1860-1987.  Collins, New York.  Currently the Property of Michele Babcock-Nice (2014).  Snellville, Georgia.

Photos and information of Michele Babcock-Nice (2014), 1960-2013.  Snellville, Georgia.

Sears Portrait Studio (2003).  Photo of Nice Family at Christmas.  Conyers, Georgia.

Other photographers of other professional photographs, unknown.

“University at Buffalo Alumnus Personal Biography Update” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

To follow is an alumni update that I posted today at my alma mater, the University at Buffalo.  I am also posting it here so there is awareness regarding what I wrote, and so that my readers may understand a bit about my background.

In my years since graduation from UB in 1993, most of my career experience has been in teaching, mostly social studies and science.  I obtained my MS from Buffalo State College in 1997; and returned to school there for my education certification, receiving it in 2000, also interning for Sam Hoyt.  I moved to the Atlanta, Georgia area for an employment opportunity in teaching in 2000.  In 2002, I was married; and in 2003, my son was born.  In 2009, I was divorced, following a 2.5-year separation.  I returned to New York State and worked for a few months before moving back to Georgia.  Then, I returned to school and obtained my certificate in healthcare with honors.

Currently, I am pursuing my second master’s degree, this one in counseling, at Argosy University in Atlanta.  There, I am an honor student, and am taking double the full-time course load.  My current activities include volunteer work, as well as maintaining two blogs, and being active on LinkedIn with two groups that I founded and manage, “People Against Retaliation and Bullying,” and “Lepidoptera Lovers.”  I also write and contribute, pseudonymously, for both a national and an international non-profit.  I enjoy nature and the outdoors, and spending quality time with my son.

In my experiences at UB, I am thankful for the opportunity to gain a great education, particularly learning about research and participating as a research assistant in the Department of Psychology.  Having experiences in music as a member of pep band, wind ensemble (concert band), and chorus enriched my life.  Being a member of the UB Royals women’s track team, and competing in shot put at the 1990 NCAA championships also broadened my horizons.  Studying abroad in Poland, visiting relatives, and traveling in Europe were also enjoyable.

UB gave me opportunities to expand my interests and personality in many ways, as I was a member and/or leader in many clubs and organizations.  I met many people at UB who enriched my life.  I am thankful for these experiences, and do my best to make a positive difference in the lives of others, including as a result of both the positive and negative experiences that I had at UB. As a result, I have become a strong advocate for children and women, and victims/survivors of trauma and sexual assault.

Michele Babcock-Nice

BA, Psychology, 1993 & BA, Political Science, 1993

“Poland and my Polish Heritage” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Four Generations of my Family, 2006

Four Generations of my Family, 2006

My grandparents (now deceased) on my mother’s side were pure-blooded Poles, having left Poland and immigrating to Germany before coming to Ellis Island around 1950.  My Polish-American grandmother was Władysława, or “Lottie,” and my Polish-American grandfather was Janek, or John.  I never knew either of my grandfathers as they both died before I was born.  Grandfather John died following a two year battle with cancer, possibly brought on by working with the many chemicals at the Tannery in Gowanda, New York, where he lived.  Both of my grandparents worked very hard to put food on the table and keep a roof over the heads of four children, one being my mother.  Sometimes, my grandmother worked two or three jobs at a time, such as waitressing at a local restaurant and tending plants at a local nursery.

Life was not easy for my Polish-American grandparents who left Europe after World War II.  But, they left because they did not want to take the chance of experiencing another Great War, and they wanted better opportunities for their children.  After all, America was the country that was flowing with “milk and honey,” as they had heard.  For two people who did not have more than an elementary or middle school education, nor knew any English upon setting foot in the United States, they certainly worked hard and did the best they could.  Sponsorship of their family by cousins already in America helped pave the way for a different fate for their family than occurred for the siblings of my grandparents still in Poland.

My grandfather was one of about 10 children in his family.  I remember being told that his mother apparently told him when he was a young man that no woman would want to marry him because he had a glass eye.  In those days in Poland, being poor and having a disability meant having fewer opportunities, as well as potentially being a societal outcast.  When I think of such a statement, now, I think of how ridiculous it sounds, particularly with so many people who have disabilities making the best of their lives.

Me with the Drewin's, Krakow, Poland, 1992

Me with the Drewin’s, Krakow, Poland, 1992

My grandmother was the middle child in a family of three daughters.  Her sisters were Staca (pronounced “Stashia”) and Marianna.  Many years ago, Marianna visited and stayed with my grandmother for three months in the United States on a temporary visa.  And, many years following that, I had the privilege of studying at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and seeing her again!  As a senior at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, I participated in the popular study abroad program to the Jagiellonian University in 1992.

In the midst of studying intensive Polish language at the Jagiellonian – with the intention of being able to properly communicate with my Polish relatives in Poland – I sent a postcard to Marianna.  A few days later, Marianna and her family arrived at my dormitory building, surprisingly unannounced, and took me out for the day.  I then made plans to visit them for a weekend, and got to meet 15 of my Polish relatives in Poland, including Marianna’s family, the Drewin’s, who lived in Kielce.  It was wonderful to see and visit with them all, and to provide monies to them that I brought specifically for them from the family at home.

Jagiellonian University Study Group at Wawel Castle and Cathedral, Krakow, Poland, 1992

Jagiellonian University Study Group at Wawel Castle and Cathedral, Krakow, Poland, 1992

Studying in Poland at the Jagiellonian University was a wonderful experience.  If I could have the opportunity to do it all over again (and at the same age as I was at the time), I would.  Studying abroad in Poland was highly recommended to me by my fellow student colleagues who were members of the University at Buffalo Polish Club.  Many of them lauded praises about the program.  Because so many of them said such great things about their experiences, I decided to apply for the opportunity to go.  It was very exciting to be accepted into the program, and to have taken the opportunity to go there.

Tapestry in Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland, 1992

Tapestry in Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland, 1992

While in Poland, I did much sight-seeing with my English-speaking (mostly composed of Americans) study group at the Jagiellonian University.  We visited the historic Wawel Castle and Cathedral, the amazing Wieliczka Salt Mines, the religious pilgrimage destination of Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa,  and had regular opportunities to see Krakow’s St. Mary’s Basilica and visit Krakow’s main market square.

Entrance Building at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland, 1992

Entrance Building at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland, 1992

On my own, I also traveled to and visited Berlin, Germany during one weekend; and with a student colleague, I went to Prague in the former Czechoslovakia, for another weekend.  On yet another weekend, the same student colleague and I visited Vienna.  I found Berlin to be a historic city, one in which a person could still obviously observe the differences between the former West and East Germanies.  And, Prague is just an amazingly beautiful and historic city, with many historic structures still standing, having not been demolished in previous wars.  Vienna was an incredibly beautiful city, also being extremely modernized and commercialized.

Life-size Madonna and Child Statue in Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland, 1992

Life-size Madonna and Child Statue in Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland, 1992

I have many memories of my time spent studying abroad and travelling in Europe.  I had such a wonderful experience in studying abroad that I returned to Europe two years later.  At that time, I travelled with my mom through the British Isles, including England, Scotland, and Ireland.  Following that, I went solo, traveling through many European countries.

St. Mary's Basilica, Krakow, Poland, 1992

St. Mary’s Basilica, Krakow, Poland, 1992

While in Europe in 1994, I used my Brit Rail and Eurail passes to travel by train, everywhere.  I traveled lightly with only a couple of bags, and remained in Europe for about one month.  In all, it was a fabulous experience, and I highly recommend it.  I would definitely do it all over again if I ever had the opportunity.

I am very proud of my family, my ancestors, and my Polish-American heritage.  While there are additional nationalities in my make-up from which I am descended, the Polish part of me is the strongest next to that of being American.  I am thankful that my Polish-American grandparents had the fortitude and courage to come to America, where they succeeded in creating a better life for their family, and their descendants to come.

“‘Team Greiner’: UB’s Champions” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Me with Carol and Bill Greiner at UB Graduation, Amherst, New York, May 1993

Me with Carol and Bill Greiner at UB Graduation, Amherst, New York, May 1993

When I think of Carol and Bill Greiner, I have fond memories of my interactions with them while I was an undergraduate student at the University at Buffalo (UB).  Studying psychology, political science, and music performance at UB for three and one-half years provided me with many opportunities for interactions with the Greiners.  It enriched my life to have them there, to be excellent role models, to experience their interest in and compassion for students.  As I walk down my nostalgic memory lane, I can accept and be happy with the interactions that I had with the Greiners at many university events, though I will always feel a sense of “unfinished business” due to the things that I was unable to bring myself to say to them.

For that, I wish I had been more mature, more open, more able to trust that I would receive a response from them that I desired.  Of all of the wonderful events and experiences that I had as a student at UB, there was one situation that occurred about which I was unable to speak with them – being the victim of a crime on campus.  I still wish I could have had more time to speak with them, and be able to open up to Carol about it, in particular, but at the time, it was too recent, too painful, too embarrassing and humiliating.  It took me years to fully address and come to terms with what had occurred, and to receive the support that I needed.  And, it was years later when I was able to disclose to Carol, anonymously, about my experience, which was helpful, but still not the same as speaking about it in person.

Something in me needed Carol to know what I experienced; I had hoped the Greiners might be able to implement programs or policies that would have better-protected students such as myself who had experienced what I did.  Never having shared about what it was provided no potential for change, improvement, or support for other UB students who had the same experience.  Perhaps, one day, I will not feel that sense of regret and loss about being unable to speak with the Greiners about the traumatic and life-changing crime that I experienced in my last semester as an undergraduate student at UB.

I first met Bill Greiner when he was the University Provost and I was a freshman, just taking flight as a student at UB.  He was at an event that welcomed students who were new to UB; my parents were there too, and my mom encouraged me to speak with him, and I did.  At first, I was intimidated about speaking with him, though when I did, he made me feel comfortable and welcome; he made me feel understood, appreciated, and respected.  The highlight of the event, in fact, was personally speaking with Bill.  I still remember the confidence he instilled in me in only a few minutes of conversation that I would do well and be successful at UB; I appreciated that.

Within two years, Bill was appointed President of UB.  That semester, I saw and spoke with him again at Homecoming.  At that time, the Homecoming parade was organized at the Main Street Campus in Buffalo, and the floats were driven to the Amherst Campus.  I was a representative of the UB Irish Club for Homecoming that year, in 1991; and was pleased to see and speak with Bill there.  His presence reflected his interest in and concern for students; that was evident and obvious, and again, was something for which I was appreciative.  As time progressed, I determined that these qualities were infused in his character and personality.  He did not just go to some rare event on occasion; he was actively involved in attending and participating in UB events, many of them, jointly, with Carol.

That year and the next, I saw both Bill and Carol at the Homecoming football games; and I saw and/or spoke with Bill on at least three other occasions on the Amherst Campus during my last semester.  On one occasion, I saw him while he was being interviewed in the Plaza by a TV reporter; on a second, I overcame my nervousness and visited Bill at his office, taking many gladioli from my family garden; and on the third, I spoke with him as we happened to be leaving Capen Hall at the same time one evening.  ‘Team Greiner’ was always there, doing more than their part to make UB even more of a success.

The Greiner Family, Susan with Husband, Daniel with Wife, Bill and Carol, Stephen with Wife, Terry with Partner, September 1992

The Greiner Family on Bill’s Inauguration Day as UB President; Susan with Husband, Daniel with Wife, Bill and Carol, Kevin with Wife, Terry with Partner; Sept. 1992

In my last semester at a senior at UB, Bill was inaugurated as President, and I saw alot more of the Greiners.  In fact, I saw them at so many events that I looked forward to seeing and speaking with them, and I actually expected them to be at the events that I attended.  It seemed that everywhere I went, ‘Team Greiner’ was there, too.  The supportive actions of Bill and Carol toward UB, and the students, faculty, and staff were warmly-welcomed and appreciated by so many.

In September 1992, Bill’s Inauguration Week as President of UB provided opportunities not only to speak with Bill and Carol, but also to experience the happiness and joy of those events with them.  There was a Roman Catholic Mass performed at St. Joseph’s Church, right next to the UB Main Street Campus in Buffalo to essentially “kick off” Inauguration Week.  I made every effort to attend because it had been the night before that I had experienced crime victimization at UB; I was already traumatized from it, but did not realize or deal with it.

Additionally, at St. Joseph’s Church following the mass, I was also able to meet and speak with certain other members of the Greiner Family, including his sons and their wives and/or significant partners.  It was wonderful to have the feeling that the qualities of both care and compassion so evident in Carol and Bill had also been transferred to their admirable offspring.  In speaking with their adult children, one immediately knew that they did a fine job at parenting.

Me with Greiners at UB Christmas Concert, Amherst, New York, December 1992

Me with Greiners at UB Christmas Concert, Amherst, New York, December 1992

As Bill’s Inauguration Week progressed, I attended what I recall as being a symphonic concert on campus to celebrate his achievement; it was beautiful.  And, I also attended Bill’s Inauguration as the 13th President of UB, an event for which I remember arriving very early because I wanted my choice selection of seat, as well as to scope out the best locations to take pictures to add tangibility to my fond memories.  Again, I had opportunities to see and speak with members of the Greiner Family.

Following the actual Inauguration was a reception that was held in the new Student Union building, one of many major projects that Bill influenced and completed at UB.  By this time, I really felt a connection with the Greiner’s and their family.  I had seen and interacted with them at several events, and believed that I could trust being more openly, emotionally vulnerable with them.  I had particularly wanted to share about the crime that I had experienced only a few days prior to the Inauguration.  I tried to do so at the reception, separately, with Carol, and with Terry, one of the Greiners’ sons, but I could not bring myself to do it.  I had psyched myself up for it, but talked myself out of doing it, and have always regretted it; it was just too painful and traumatic.

As someone who was active in numerous UB clubs and groups, including ethnic/language-related groups and student government, I received invitations to attend the Student Association’s Christmas parties for two consecutive years, in 1991 and 1992.  On both of those occasions, I saw Bill and Carol, but spoke with them only at the second such event.  By then, three more months had passed, and I had mentally-buried and not dealt with the crime that I had experienced.  It was also at this event that I asked Bill if he would write a recommendation for me.  He asked me to see that he received my resume, said that he would write a recommendation for me, and he did.  I still have and cherish it.

Prior to finishing the last of my classes as an undergraduate student at UB in December 1992, I again saw and spoke with Carol and Bill at a Christmas Concert, held in the Ellicott Complex, my group of dormitory buildings on the Amherst Campus.  Following the Christmas Concert, Carol was very warm toward me, much as always, and spoke with me about alot in a short time.  She made me feel important, valued, and accepted; she showed to me much warmth, understanding, and compassion, like one would receive from a good mother, and much as I do with my own son.

I felt such a connection with Carol during our conversation, and remember wishing that it could last forever.  I needed the warmth and compassion of someone; and I privately thanked God for her, and for her to have treated me as kindly and lovingly as she did.  Interestingly, Bill was somewhat of a sour puss that evening and I could tell that he did not want to talk, though I did not allow that to dampen my happy holiday spirits.  I remember wondering how anyone could seem so grouchy after such a wonderful and festive holiday concert.  It was a different side of him that I had not yet experienced and had not expected, but accepted on that occasion.

The last time that I interacted with the Greiner’s was when I returned to UB for my graduation in May 1993.  I had completed my coursework for my two baccalaureate degrees in December, moved to and was working in Manhattan, and came back to participate in the graduation ceremonies.  I’m glad that I did, and I have many wonderful memories of celebrating my accomplishment with many of my student colleagues as well as my family.  Seeing the Greiners again at this event showed me how much I had grown in a few months of having finished my studies, though it also left me with a longing and nostalgia for maintaining a connection with them.  It was difficult and painful to let go.

The final time that I saw the Greiners was at SUNY Day in Albany in 1999.  SUNY Day is a day that is arranged for student delegates of State University of New York system to go Albany, New York – the state capitol – to meet and speak with state government representatives, receive tours of their offices, and hear lectures.  At the time, I was taking undergraduate courses at Buffalo State College to complete my social studies teacher certification, and I was a student government representative to the event.

It was at SUNY Day that I met former Assembly Member Sam Hoyt from Buffalo; he invited me to intern in his Buffalo office, and I later did, having an outstanding experience.  It was also on this occasion that I only saw Bill and Carol from a distance in a conference room as I was already seating in the back with my group when they entered with several UB student athletes.  It was good to see them again, if only from a distance, and to know that ‘Team Greiner’ was still hard at work for UB.

I lost touch with the Greiners many years ago.  They were people with whom I had hoped to maintain a connection, and to share about the traumatic crime that I had experienced.  There was one occasion more than four years after I was victimized that I got the courage to go to the Greiners’ home.  At the time, I worked just down the street from them at Key Bank.

This time, I had resolved that I would tell them about it, and had hoped and prayed that they would welcome me, but they were not at home.  They had the power and influence to make change at UB to help other students who were survivors of traumatic crimes that occurred on campus, as well as to help see that such crimes were prevented and students were educated about them.  I never got the chance to share my ideas with them.

Around that time, and due to being unable to speak with the Greiners about my concerns, I decided to take my concerns to their son, Terry, at his office in Buffalo.  I am an individual who likes to get things accomplished, and to do so personally, and therefore, my aim was to personally-share information with him about what I experienced and request that there could be some way that improvements related to it could be made for other students at UB who had the same or similar experiences.  It took so much courage and initiative for me to go to Terry’s office, but he turned me away, did not speak with me, and did not accept me into his office.  I was devastated, and felt re-victimized all over again.

I do, however, fondly remember the many events and interactions that I shared with Carol and Bill; and I prefer to remember those.  At the time of my writing of this article, it will have been nearly four years since Bill’s death.  When I read the news about his passing in the UB alumni magazine, it was unexpected and saddening.  To Carol, I mailed a sympathy card, expressing my condolences.  I am sure that such a great man is missed by those who knew him, especially his family, who took priority in his life, much as family should.

So, I would like to think – at this time of the holidays – that Bill is looking down over us and helping us to spread holiday cheer to each other.  I would like to think and remember that he would have been right in the mix of all that, and would not have missed it for anything.  Thanks, ‘Team Greiner,’ for all you have done for me, and for all of your unfathomable support to UB.  You are UB’s unsurpassed champions! 🙂

References:

“Bill Greiner.”  Wikipedia, 2013.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Greiner

DellaContrada, J. (2009).  William R. Greiner Dies.  Buffalo, NY: UB – University at Buffalo: News Releases.

State University of New York at Buffalo Graduation, May 1993.  Buffalo, NY.

Special Note:

This article was also published by both the UB Alumni Association on LinkedIn (December 2013).  Mountain View, CA: LinkedIn; and by the State University of New York at Buffalo business group on LinkedIn (December 2013).  Mountain View, CA: LinkedIn.