White House recommendations on sexual assault for college campuses include items such as surveying students about sexual violence and identifying trained victim advocates. | Ad Meskens/Wikimedia Commons

Celina Oseguera
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The United States government has taken the challenge to help fight against sexual assault and violence in higher education.

To help, the White House formed the Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, a government group dedicated to fighting sexual assault in higher education.

They also launched a website, Not Alone, where people can find information on anything from how to file a sexual assault complaint to learning more about Title IX, a title that deals with sexual discrimination and assault.

Along with the website, the task force outlined three ways universities should combat sexual assault on their own.

A recent article from the San Luis Obispo Tribune recorded Cal Poly officials saying the university already met all three recommendations.

Cheri Love, the assistant coordinator for Safer, Cal Poly’s center for sexual assault prevention, explained exactly how Cal Poly meets those points.

As far as surveys go, Cal Poly recently conducted a Campus Climate Survey, Love said. The survey covered a number of topics, including how sexual assault is treated on campus.

Aside from the recent bystander campaign, Safer has provided many programs to promote sexual assault awareness.

“We can go out to classrooms, we can go out to fraternities, go out to residents here at the housing program,” Love said.

Love added that the university brings in speakers to address men on how they can prevent sexual assault.

Though Safer already trains University Police Department (UPD) officers, campus police have expressed interest in learning more about sexual assault prevention.

“George Hughes, the chief of campus police, he reached out to us and our office,” Love said. “He specifically asked and requested that we do a training with (incoming officers).”

As far as how Cal Poly responds to sexual assault, Love said the university fulfills all recommendations.

Concerning confidentiality, a student can go to therapists at the counseling center for full confidentiality.

Cal Poly also has a clear definition on what it considers sexual assault and how it should be punished, Love said. The sexual misconduct policy is on the Cal Poly website.

Regarding training for campus officials, Safer meets with new faculty members each fall quarter to teach them how to approach sexual assault. There is also video material on the Safer website if officials wish to educate themselves.

According to Dean of Students Jean DeCosta, anyone involved in reporting sexual assault — the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Office of Student Life and Leadership, Office of Employment Equity, residence staff — knows how to approach the issue so as to not cause the survivor further pain. They must attend mandatory sessions covering these issues, DeCosta said.

Concerning partnerships, Cal Poly does have some connections with local groups and individuals to help with sexual assault issues. One of these groups is RISE, a crisis intervention center in San Luis Obispo.

Both DeCosta and Love believe Cal Poly not only meets the requirements, but goes above and beyond.

“In a lot of ways, we are ahead of the curve on most of the things, which is encouraging,” Love said.

According to Love, meeting the federal task force recommendations is just the start.

Safer plans to go above and beyond to address the issue of male and LGBT sexual assault survivors, an issue the federal plan overlooks.

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