Students lit candles and left flowers for Kristin Smart on the Santa Lucia lawn. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News Credit: Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

Michelle Mueller is a history freshman. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.

Dear President Jeffrey Armstrong,

It is nearing 25 years since Kristin Smart’s disappearance on Cal Poly’s campus. As did many others, I felt a sense of relief but also heartache for Smart and her family after hearing that Paul Flores and his father were finally arrested early Tuesday morning.

While I was not alive when Kristin disappeared in 1996, her story echoes around campus, almost as if Smart’s story is an urban legend. I live in Santa Lucia Hall, where Paul Flores lived, adjacent to Muir Hall where Smart also resided. Walking the same paths as she did 25 years earlier, I noticed that nothing to increase safety for women on campus has been accomplished, or even attempted, especially after the wake of her disappearance.

I was incredibly disappointed that you did not even once acknowledge the fears that my fellow peers and I face as young women on campus, not in your appearance in yesterday’s press conference, nor to Cal Poly students and staff to ease our anxiety.

Applying to Cal Poly last fall, I thought of San Luis Obispo as a safe and small community. Although this is partially true, Smart’s story is a reminder that although SLO is a tight-knit community, female students endure daily threats to their safety, still after 25 years.

Yesterday, I was deeply saddened and disappointed that you did not address, nor at the bare minimum acknowledge that women on campus face safety risks that Kristin sadly encountered too. Kristin Smart’s fatal end could have been any one of the female students here on campus today. It only takes one person to commit a heinous crime that Paul Flores acted upon 25 years prior.

In the Red Bricks on campus, there are no blue emergency phone towers, cameras, or lights anywhere within a close proximity. In fact, the closest blue light emergency phone tower is located near the apartments, which is reported to be inoperative and defective. As a first year female student, I fear for my safety. But I am not alone, as do the more than 80 students who attended the organized vigil for Smart last night. We deserve better. Kristin Smart and her family deserved better. Cal Poly students deserve better. 


Michelle Mueller

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