New Cal Poly group wants to hear from sexual assault survivors

In response to frustrations over Cal Poly’s handling of sexual assault and harassment reports, a new campus group is encouraging students to attend a #MeToo town hall on Wednesday evening.

The event, sponsored by Time’s Up: Cal Poly, is intended to serve as a platform for sexual assault victims to speak out, either in person or by anonymously submitting their story. It comes two months after protesters held a #MeToo march on Cal Poly campus.

The town hall will be held at 7 p.m. at Phillips Hall.

Organizers said that their goal is to get Cal Poly to acknowledge that sexual assault is a problem on campus; they seek transparency for, and greater input on, the Title IX sexual assault investigation process. Organizers said they also want Cal Poly to provide free, long-term counseling services for victims.

Organizers said Cal Poly administrators declined an invitation to participate in Wednesday’s town hall, but several high-level figures will be in attendance, including Dean of Students Kathleen McMahon. Vice President Keith Humphrey will not attend the meeting but plans to watch a video recording and then brief President Jeffrey Armstrong, Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier wrote in a statement.

Armstrong will be out of town attending a California State University system event Wednesday.

“Sexual misconduct in all of its forms is unwelcome at Cal Poly, and university administration supports its campus community members in voicing their concerns about the issue, so that those voices can inform the ongoing campus dialogue,” Lazier wrote.

Lazier defended Cal Poly’s handling of Title IX cases, writing that “Cal Poly’s Title IX program is held up as the example of how to do it right.”

In the last two fiscal years, Cal Poly received 140 complaints of Title IX sexual misconduct, domestic violence and stalking, of which the university formally investigated 44. Investigators handed out sanctions in 19 of those investigations but found insufficient evidence in 25 of them. The rest of the complaints were not investigated.

In a previous statement, Lazier has responded to those statistics by stating, “The Title IX Office investigates all reports for which it has jurisdiction and sufficient evidence to enable an investigation.”

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