For Supporters & Parents

While you should be extremely excited that your student is attending one of the best public universities in the nation, Cal Poly does face similar challenges as other universities regarding gender- & power-based violence. As Cal Poly's primary confidential resource for sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking, Safer is committed to educating students, faculty, and staff members in order to create a proactive community committed to ending violence.

Professional staff at Safer are all California State-Certified Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Counselors, trained to provide your student with confidential, short-term crisis counseling, emotional support and serve as their advocate on in all university, medical and law enforcement processes.

Talking with your student

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 our full dialogue facilitation toolkit, as resources to start the conversation. CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW TO ACCESS THE TOOLKIT.

  • Every student deserves to have this conversation. Even if they're a "good kid" -all students need to be having intentional dialogues about the way they want to show up in the community.
  • Encourage open conversations around relationships, sex, communication, boundaries, etc. Model those behaviors for your student, and be open to them asking questions.
  • 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.
  • 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 person who caused the harm. Placing blame, even unintentionally, on your student could hinder their healing process and may result in them not talking to you in the future.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Commonly Asked Questions

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.

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.

What kind of training does Cal Poly do for their students on this topic?

All incoming & recurring students must complete an online training module through a third-party, and monitored by the Dean of Students office. Additionally, Safer works closely with various campus partners, such as Fraternity & Sorority Life, Athletics, Club Sports, and a myriad of academic departments. To learn more about the workshops Safer offers to our campus community, click here.

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. Sometimes, outside organizations will partner with Safer to hold a self-defense class on campus as an event for Action Months. Additionally, the Recreation Center on campus sometimes offers 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 confidental 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?

You can make a confidential appointment online with a Campus Advocate, usually within 24 hours, by clicking here. You can email Safer at or call at 805.756.2282. Safer is open Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm.
For after hours help, contact:

Cal Poly Campus Health & Wellbeing - Counseling Services: 805.756.1211
| Building 27, Room 135

Lumina Alliance: 24-hour crisis line, 805.545.8888 | 51 Zaca Lane #130 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 and supporters 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 the Civil Rights & Compliance Office website.

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?

Mustang Shuttle runs seven days a week and starts a loop through campus every 10 minutes, (service between 9-10 p.m. is every 20 minutes) making seven stops. During winter quarter the shuttle starts at 5:30 p.m. with the last pickup leaving Kennedy Library at 12:10 a.m. before making all seven stops by 12:30 a.m. Mustang Shuttle is free for the Cal Poly community and ADA-friendly.

For more information on this and other Safety Program offerings such as the campus safety app, Mustang Patrol and shuttle services, visit this website.

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 and Lumina Alliance.

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.

Cal Poly Police Department offers several services to ensure campus safety, including Safety Programs and Crime Prevention.

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