About Safer

Safer is Cal Poly’s primary confidential resource for addressing sexual assault, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual exploitation, and harassment. 

Located within Campus Health and Wellbeing, Safer offers holistic services to the entire campus community regarding gender- & power-based violence. Our Advocacy Staff supports survivors of violence (and their loved ones) directly, by offering confidential crisis support and advocacy, which includes crisis intervention, accompaniments, referrals, and more. Our Prevention Education Staff engages the campus community in setting pro-social behavior norms and encouraging community accountability so this violence never occurs in the first place. 

Our Mission: A campus community free from all forms of gender and power-based violence and the societal factors perpetuating that violence, and one where comprehensive support is readily available for those impacted.
Our Vision: Safer strives to eradicate and prevent all forms of gender- & power-based violence from occurring on the Cal Poly campus whilst nurturing a supportive and inclusive environment for all survivors through robust prevention education and advocacy services.
Our Values: Survivor-Centered | Trauma-Informed | Inclusive | Accessible | Student-Driven

Read more about our services and history below.


Survivor Advocacy

Survivor Advocacy

Our full-time professional staff are California state-certified crisis counselors for sexual assault & domestic violence. We are available to our entire campus community: survivors and loved ones, and students, faculty & staff.

Our Advocates can provide the following services:

  • 1:1 confidential crisis intervention and support
  • Accompaniments to medical forensic exams, law enforcement interviews, Title IX proceedings, court, etc.
  • Trauma-informed and survivor-centered information and validation regarding common feelings, experiences, and questions regarding reporting & healing processes
  • Referrals for university accommodations & community support services
  • Ongoing survivor support 

Learn more & make an appointment here.

Prevention Education
Prevention Education

We believe in a culture where violence is preventable. Our Prevention Education team is dedicated to engaging our community in violence primary prevention, through the following services:

History of Safer
History of Safer

  • The Safer program was born in Fall 1996 and housed in Peer Health Education. It initially began as an acronym for "Sexual Assault Free Environment Resource" - S.A.F.E.R., although that acronym is no longer used.
  • On July 1st, 1999, S.A.F.E.R. moved from the Health Center to the Women’s Center to increase collaboration with Women’s Programs and Services.
  • On February 14th, 2011, the Women’s Center changed its title to the Gender Equity Center and now housed Safer, Women’s Programs, and the new Men and Masculinity Programs.
  • In the summer of 2011, Safer became a stand-alone program in Student Life and Leadership and in 2012 became a confidential resource for survivors and loved ones. The name was changed from the acronym Sexual Assault Free Environment Resource (S.A.F.E.R.) to a standalone word - Safer - and became a part of the Dean of Students department.
  • In Fall 2018, Safer was reorganized within Wellbeing Services in Campus Health & Wellbeing, to align with national best practices of acknowledging gender- & power-based violence as a public health issue.

The Red Hand Print Campaign

The Red Hand Print campaign was present on Cal Poly’s campus until the mid-2000s. When a sexual assault was reported to Safer, a red handprint would be painted in that location on campus, with handprints appearing in front of buildings, dormitories, and other gathering places on campus. This was to signify how pervasive this issue was and is on campus.

While no red handprints can be found on the ground today at Cal Poly, memorials can be found in various locations around campus, including the University Union, residence halls, and near Campus Market. 

Gone But Not Forgotten

Safer’s creation in 1996 was sparked by the loss of three local young women. While one of the cases remains open, these senseless losses of life catalyzed our community into action around safety and gender- & power-based violence. 

  • A Cal Poly Architecture major, Kristin Smart disappeared from Cal Poly in front of the Red Brick dorms on May 25th, 1996.
  • Smart’s disappearance remains unsolved to this day. 
  • Her disappearance led to the Kristin Smart Campus Security Act, signed into law on August 18th, 1998. The law requires all public colleges and other publicly-funded educational institutions to have their security services have agreements with local police departments about reporting cases involving or possibly involving violence against students, including missing students.
  • Rachel Newhouse was a 20-year-old student from Irvine, CA.
  • She was studying nutrition at Cal Poly.
  • She was abducted on November 18th, 1998 after being stalked by Rex Krebs on the way home from downtown San Luis Obispo at night, taken on the Jennifer Street Bridge. 
  • Aundria Crawford was a 20-year-old student at Cuesta College
  • She was stalked and abducted by Rex Krebs from her duplex near downtown San Luis Obispo.
  • She was abducted on March 12th, 1999.

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