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Cal Poly students rally against sexual assault

About 40 students hold hands on Cal Poly’s Dexter Lawn on Thursday during a rally against sexual violence.
About 40 students hold hands on Cal Poly’s Dexter Lawn on Thursday during a rally against sexual violence. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

About 40 Cal Poly students gathered on campus Thursday to call for increased sexual assault prevention and more funding for recovery services.

Members of the Society of Women Engineers — one of Cal Poly’s largest student organizations with more than 400 members — joined the rally that was endorsed by seven other campus programs.

Students wore red T-shirts and held hands at the event as a symbol of unity, said Amy Johnson, a second-year biomedical engineering student.

Other supporters included the University Police Department, the SAFER program that works to prevent sexual assault on campus, and Cal Poly’s Women and Gender Studies Department. The rally was held to bring attention to three alleged rapes in May that occurred on or near campus.

“Every major organization on campus should help to stop sexual assault,” said Kara Barbieri, a Cal Poly psychology student and a leader in the SAFER program. “We need to work toward more funding for prevention and more education.”

Barbieri said that seven student assistants who are trained rape crisis coordinators work at SAFER. But she’d like to see a professional staff hired to help with the program.

Organizers with the Society of Women Engineers said they came to the rally to put a spotlight on the issue of sexual assault on campus and to unite to stop it.

“I think above all, the campus needs to come together to prevent sexual violence and not become divided by speculation and blame,” said Darin Dorsey, a second-year philosophy major who attended the rally.

Dorsey said that the three women who have reported the alleged rapes have been blamed by some because police have said they were intoxicated and unconscious, but he said rape is never acceptable, regardless of the circumstance, and hopes to refocus the conversation to future prevention of sexual violence.

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