Viewpoints

Cal Poly will do more to investigate sexual misconduct and help survivors, president says

Student researcher talks about rape culture at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo

Cal Poly student Amelia Meyerhoff researched rape culture at in San Luis Obispo, interviewing 61 sexual assault survivors who are students or alumni. Her project, "The Clapback," is now available online.
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Cal Poly student Amelia Meyerhoff researched rape culture at in San Luis Obispo, interviewing 61 sexual assault survivors who are students or alumni. Her project, "The Clapback," is now available online.

Sexual misconduct is not welcome on our campus. It is heartbreaking, abhorrent and against everything for which our university stands. Unfortunately, it is also a reality on our campus and in our society.

On a personal level, it is gut-wrenching knowing members of our campus community experience traumatic events such as these. We will continue to work diligently to ensure that we are addressing this issue with the humanity, gravity and comprehensiveness it demands.

We take every opportunity afforded to us to hear the concerns of our campus community members. These concerns are taken seriously, and we consider them as we constantly review and work to improve the programs and services we provide across campus. We are listening.

We also understand that there are sometimes frustrations associated with the investigative process around sexual misconduct — that an individual investigation may not end the way a campus community member wished, or that the university cannot be more forthcoming with details about specific cases.

Our Title IX investigative process and procedures are outlined not by the university but rather by California State University (CSU) mandate and by federal and state law. The same is true for the privacy constraints around these cases. The university does not have the latitude to change these processes and procedures as we might wish.

That said, the university’s Equal Opportunity staff are dedicated professionals who are thoroughly trained in how to apply the existing laws and CSU mandates to ensure that Cal Poly is following the law in its Title IX programs — and who do so with the utmost sensitivity to our campus community members in mind.

Likewise, we have passionate and dedicated staff members in our Safer program and other areas of campus who are focused on providing thorough support for survivors of sexual misconduct. I am proud of all of our employees who work tirelessly to support and provide for the well-being and safety of our students.

Some survivors have shared their concerns that the university is not doing enough — that we need to provide more resources for investigating sexual misconduct and providing support to survivors. I agree; there is always more to be done, and we are adding to our programs.

Safer added a full-time advocate last spring and has hired a second, part-time advocate. And the Equal Opportunity Office added an assistant director position that will increase capacity for investigations and provide additional resources to support training and outreach for students, faculty and staff. The office has also received approval to hire a full-time staff person who will support students, faculty and staff and will be the first point of contact to answer questions and schedule appointments.

Preventing sexual assault requires a comprehensive approach. Over the years, the university has enhanced programming around awareness and prevention.

For example, sexual assault awareness and prevention is now a required, foundational education component of our student orientation programing. Other programs have been created to combat sexual assault on a multitude of fronts. We have also established the With Us program — an initiative with objectives that include preventing sexual assault by training and empowering students to recognize and intervene in situations where the threat of a sexual assault may exist.

These changes will help. But I am aware that it is still not enough.

We will continue to add to these programs. We will continue to improve how the university responds to sexual misconduct, supports survivors, and tell all of campus that we will not tolerate sexual misconduct in our community.

Perhaps most importantly, we will continue to listen.

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