Credit: Carolyne Sysmans | Mustang News

Safer — an on-campus confidential advocacy, education and support program concerning sexual assault, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking — recently joined with Campus Health and Well-Being in efforts to consolidate both programs’ missions. Safer’s headquarters will soon relocate from the University Union (UU) to the Health Center.

The goal of the move was to adopt a more holistic approach to the services provided, according to Safer coordinator Kara Samaniego.

“When you think of a program like Safer, and what we do for crisis support and the advocacy services that we provide, in a lot of people’s minds, that aligns more closely with counseling services,” Samaniego said. “Given the social nature of the UU, some maybe wouldn’t have felt comfortable [accessing Safer]. The move down there has a more private location in hopes of making ourselves the most accessible as possible.”

Cal Poly recently received a Department of Justice Campus Programs Grant, which funded certain changes to programs like Safer, Title IX and the Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities.

The grant sparked the desire to unify campus wellbeing programs, and Safer joining with Campus Health and Wellbeing is just one aspect of the unification.

“The effects of assault can follow [victims] for a lifetime, and we’re talking about not just emotional impacts, but also physical. There is a very real health concern when people experience this kind of violence,” Samaniego said. “By being closely aligned with the Health Center and with counseling services, it just makes sense. [Support] needs to come from all directions, not just a program like Safer.”

Several other California State Universities (CSUs) have similar programs, most of which are also joined with counseling or health services, according to Samaniego. Safer’s shift is simply following the trend of several other CSU’s.

With the consolidation of these services, Safer still remains a confidential resource. 

This conjunction aims to increase convenience and quality of both services to aid students seeking support. During this time of transition, which is expected to be completed soon, students can receive services from Safer both in the University Union (room 217) and the Health Center.

“Since we’ve started in 1996, we have expanded to talk about domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Safer’s goal from the beginning has been to address these topics,” Samaniego said. “The purpose of this program is to bring these issues to light and address it in a way that brings people into the conversation, and [Safer] is all about creating those conversations.”  

Editor’s note: reporter Serena Lopez contributed to this article. 

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