College is a huge transition. In one moment you find yourself at home, interacting with friends you’ve known for years, going throughout your days with a mixture of excitement and fear nipping your heels. After what seems to you like a matter of seconds, high school is a summer behind you, and you are ready to pursue a degree.
As an incoming student, it’s important to understand that you are not alone in your feelings of nervousness. Leaving home is challenging; in the coming year at Cal Poly each new student will grow more, and in more ways than could be imagined. Not only is paying attention to Cal Poly’s various resources something that is encouraged, but also extremely beneficial to the magnitude of your growth, and the value of your time here at Cal Poly. The on-campus resources that Cal Poly offers — the Campus Health and Wellbeing and Peers Understanding Listening Supporting Educating (PULSE), Safer and the Cross Cultural Centers — all provide students with the skills and extra boost needed to live a successful, healthy, inclusive and interactive life on campus.
After living on campus my first year, one of the things that I and many of my peers found to be a hidden gem at Cal Poly was PULSE. PULSE is a resource that provides students with peer-to peer health education.
Campus Health & Wellbeing is made up of four main sections: Health Services, Counseling Services, Health Education (PULSE,) and Campus Wellbeing. It is highly recommended that incoming students check out PULSE as a go-to resource, as it can serve as a reliable guide in any situation in which students feel sub-par, or simply stressed. Health educator Christine Nelson emphasizes the incredible impact PULSE has on any student that is willing to come in, sit down, and have a discussion. “It’s our student volunteers that really make the program happen,” she said. “Each student that participates in PULSE as a peer health educator really just wants to improve the wellbeing of their peers by providing them with evidence-based information.”
PULSE is made up of four teams in which students are trained to have accurate, evidence-based educational dialogues— Educational Resources on Sexuality (EROS), HEAT (Health Enrichment Action Team), REAL (Reach Out Empower Accept Listen) and TLC (Thoughtful Lifestyle Choices). These students guide others through any questions they may have about their health, ranging from inquiries as specific as eating well, stress management, exploration and sexual health. Peer health educators at PULSE will actively listen to educate students on how to live the healthiest life at Cal Poly. They will refer them to either Health and Counseling Services or other on-campus resources when they feel it is best for the overall health, happiness, and wellbeing of the student. They even house the Hunger Program’s food pantry for those with an unstable food situation and a massage chair, available by appointment. Prevention is PULSE’s mantra and Nelson hopes to encounter students before they become distressed. “Come to PULSE to seek information,” Nelson said, “We want to prevent students from engaging in high-risk behaviors by educating them and giving them support.”
PULSE is always free for students and always reliable. I highly encourage you all to stop by PULSE, say hello, and even just come and relax. As aforementioned, it is a hidden gem that not many students are fortunate enough to which to have access.
Safer is another prevention-education based resource at Cal Poly that specifically serves to address sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. Typically, the beginning of the year is when Cal Poly and other universities across the country see the most cases of sexual violence according to Safer coordinator Kara Samaniego. Samaniego serves as an advocate for those who seek help in these situations of sexual violence. Her role is “first and foremost, to serve as emotional support,” she said. By working one-on-one with individuals and supporters, she connects individuals affected by sexual assault to resources on and off campus as they go through the healing process. Anyone can contact her for clarification and support.
Safer works to promote Cal Poly as an affirmative consent campus. It partners with residence halls to put on informative presentations for students and has a strong presence at resource fairs. As confirmed by Samaniego, Safer is working toward becoming more accessible in residence halls during the upcoming year and plans to dedicate safe spaces for confidential conversations. These spaces allow any student passing by to come chat and receive direction to various resources and individuals for more information.
Safer is a resource crafted for anyone and can be casual or intensive, depending on the wishes of the individual. It’s one of two fully confidential resources at Cal Poly, and welcomes any student, regardless of gender identity and background. “It is imperative that students know we are completely open to anyone,” Samaniego said.
Safer is a safe space, so go stop by — even just to learn more about the impact of sexual assault on campus, a major issue of which all incoming students must remain mindful.
During my first year at Cal Poly, I wish I had taken time to get more involved in the Multicultural Center, Pride Center, and Gender Equity Center– resources that all make up the Cross Cultural Centers. It’s a common misconception among students that only those individuals who use those resources are made to support are allowed to interact with them. In reality, any student is welcome to become an ally with the Cross Cultural Centers.
Director of the Cross Cultural Centers Bryan Shon Hubain said that he helps to form networks and build relationships across campus. “When it comes to having a serious conversation that often comes along with the subjects of diversity and inclusivity people are threatened less when they know the person,” he said. “I strive to make connections in order to keep everyone open and vulnerable during discussions about inclusivity and diversity, which can only strengthen us as a campus.”
Cal Poly is re-envisioning the definition of diversity. By creating a much wider network on campus and coming together to have engaging conversations, it is working together to create a more inclusive and open environment. Hubain points out that Cal Poly has been extremely open to change, especially during the nine months he has been here to observe it. “Partnerships happen that make diversity and inclusivity the center of who we are as a campus, “ Hubain says with passion. “We are making shifts more quickly than a lot of institutions.”
The Cross Cultural Centers will see a positive change during this upcoming year, including more resources and space. The Multicultural Center, currently located upstairs in the Julian A. McPhee University Union, is constantly overflowing with eager students. After collaborating with ASI and student focus groups, the Multicultural Center will relocate to the stairs next January and set up shop in the rose float space, across from Yogurt Creations and next to the Craft Center. “As a result of this move, we are hoping to make the Multicultural Center less hidden and more accessible to all students,” Hubain said.
All incoming students should look out for events held by the Cross Cultural Centers. Any student is welcome to use the CCC; a large part of it is about making connections for all students. In October, the Cross Cultural Centers will host an event called Another Type of Groove, an open mic, which serves as a great opportunity for students to interact with the Multicultural Center, Pride Center, and Gender Equity Center. Also look out for Culture Fest and the unique dialogues. The dialogues hosted by the CCC are recommended for students that want to explore their identity. I highly advise any incoming student to keep the Cross Cultural Centers as a point of interest. These resources can easily make a student’s experience at Cal Poly even more extraordinary, as they are incredible at assisting students explore who they truly are.