Information for Families

College can be an exciting but challenging transition for both you and your student. Safer is here to answer questions and provide support during this time, as it is important to be able to discuss and recognize the new experiences your student is undertaking. In order to help you and your student’s move into this new environment, here are some commonly asked questions regarding topics Safer addresses:

Commonly Asked Questions:

Is sexual assault actually a problem here? Does it happen more often at Cal Poly than at other universities?

  • Sexual assault at Cal Poly is no more prevalent than at any other university. Statistics show that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men will be sexually assaulted while in college (National Sexual Violence Resource Center). Sexual assault or rape can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, age, race, ability, sexual orientation, economic status, or gender identity. Safer exists to provide resources for those who do experience any type of sexual violence, as well as promote campus-wide education on these topics.

How do I talk to my student about sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking?

Having a conversation with your student regarding sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking can be difficult, but we hope that you can use the tips below, as well as information on our website, as a resource to start the conversation. If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

  • Be open to talking about difficult subjects like sexual assault, intimate partner violence, body image, and mental health issues. Let your student know that you are open to talking with them. Listen to what they have to say and withhold judgment.
  • Talk to your student about trusting their instincts.  Remind them to be aware of their surroundings. If they feel uneasy about a situation, remind them it is acceptable to get to a place they feel comfortable by any means necessary.
  • Talk to your child about drinking responsibly and knowing their personal limits. Remind them to pay attention to sudden changes in themselves and use the buddy system. Encourage your student to look out for their friends and stress the importance of never leaving a friend behind.
  • Be sure to remind your student to assert themselves and their personal boundaries when in the dorms or in other social situations. Many people are more concerned about being "polite" instead of being forceful. If something doesn't feel right or their personal boundaries are being violated, it is absolutely okay to speak up.
  • If something does happen to your child, recognize that it is NEVER their fault. It does not matter how much they have had to drink and it does not matter what they were wearing. It does not matter where they were. The only person at fault is the perpetrator. Placing blame, even unintentionally, on your student could hinder their healing process and damage your relationship.

Should I encourage my student to bring pepper spray or other forms of self-defense with them to campus?

  • While the concern for your student is understandable, we do not endorse bringing pepper spray or any other weapons for self-defense onto campus. In many cases, they are prohibited from University Housing. In addition, these tools require training and practice to be used effectively. We recommend talking with your student about assertive communication techniques and having a safety plan should a situation arise that they need one. Also be sure to remind your student that you are available for support if something should happen.

Does Cal Poly offer regular self-defense classes?

  • Cal Poly does not offer regularly scheduled self-defense classes. Often, outside organizations will partner with Safer to hold a self-defense class on campus as an event for an awareness month. Additionally, the Recreation Center on campus sometimes offer self-defense programs that last throughout a quarter. Although we understand that self-defense is often a concern, it is important to note that self-defense is not an effective stand-alone strategy. As most sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone your student knows and not a stranger, physical self-defense is often not a realistic or useful tactic. Focusing only on self-defense overlooks the importance of assertive communication and boundaries, and in addition, could perpetuate the idea of victim blaming.

If my student tells me that they were sexually assaulted, can I make a report on their behalf?

  • As someone who cares about your student, it can be frightening, frustrating, and heartbreaking to see them struggling. However, it is a personal decision for a survivor of sexual violence to make an official report, whether that be to Title IX or law enforcement. In your role as a supporter, it is best to let them know that you support them and let them know that there is help and resources available to them. We recommend that you reach out to a Safer advocate to learn more about options and resources available to your student.
  • Due to FERPA and confidentiality standards, Safer advocates will not be able to share any personal or private information about your student with you. Advocates can advise on options and resources, as well as assist you with how to have a discussion with your student if they have been assaulted or in an abusive relationship.

How can my Student reach Safer?

The Safer office is located in the University Union, Building 65, Room 217. Office hours are from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Walk in counseling hours are Monday and Friday from 10am to 12pm. You can email Safer at safer@calpoly.edu or call at 805.756.2282.

For after hours help, contact:

  • Cal Poly Counseling Center: 805.756.1211
    Physical Location: Building 27, Room 135
  • RISE: 24-hour crisis line, 855.886.7473
    51 Zaca Lane #100 San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 (off-campus)
  • Stand Strong: 24-hour crisis line, 805.781.6400
    51 Zaca Lane #150, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 (off-campus)
  • RAINN Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network: 1.800.656.HOPE 
    This 24 hour national hotline will automatically connect you to your nearest crisis center.

Safer is a resource for family members as well. Contact Safer for help navigating resources, options, and ways to support your student. Learn more here.

What is Title IX?

  • Title IX of the Education Amendments prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational institutions. Title IX protects all people, regardless of their gender or gender identity, from sex discrimination, which includes sexual harassment and violence. Individuals that experience sexual violence have the choice to report to the Title IX office and begin an investigation. To learn more about the Title IX process and your student’s rights, visit here.

What is the Clery Act?

  • The Clery Act is a federal law that requires colleges to report crimes that occur “on campus” and school safety policies. The Clery Act also requires schools to evaluate if there is a serious or ongoing threat to the campus community to determine if a timely warning needs to be issued to all staff and students. Each year, Cal Poly issues an Annual Security Report. Incidents of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking are included under the Clery Act. To learn more about the Clery Act and view Annual Security Reports, visit here.

Is there an escort or van service for my student to use at night?

  • Cal Poly does offer an escort van service for student use at night on campus. The van is in service from Sunday through Thursday, from 7pm to Midnight, and has a number of pick-up locations across campus.
  • University Police also offers an on campus safety walking escort on Friday and Saturday evenings from 8pm to 2am. Anyone requesting a walking escort on campus can call 805-756-STEP (7837) and Mustang Patrol will walk you to your on-campus destination or to your vehicle parked on campus.

How do I respond if my student has been sexually assaulted or in an abusive relationship?

  • If your student discloses to you that they have experienced sexual assault or intimate partner violence, they are most likely looking for support and need to be heard. It is important to listen to your student, to validate their feelings, and make them aware of their options and resources, including Safer, RISE, and Stand Strong.
  • Learn more about how to respond to your student if they disclose to you and more tips on how to support a loved one here.

Where can I find more information about safety at Cal Poly?

The University Police Department works in accordance with the Clery Act to publish up to date statistics related to crimes committed on or around the campus community. View the current Campus Security Report here.

University Police Department offers several services to ensure campus safety, including:

Blue Light Emergency Telephones
Safety Escort Van Service
Mustang Patrol
Housing Resource Officers

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