Jennifer Gongaware

Cal Poly doesn’t have a history of violent acts and crimes,  but they do occur periodically.

  In 2003, there was one murder, 20 forcible rapes, 19 robberies, 99 aggravated assaults, 344 burglaries and 131 car thefts in the city of San Luis Obispo, according to, which is well below the national average.

“No matter how safe we are, going by the numbers and statistics, there are crimes in town and Hwy. 101 brings a lot of people through town,” University Police Commander Bill Watton said.

The crime rate in San Luis Obispo has dropped 52 percent, and the university community crime rate has dropped 46 percent in the last six years, according to the Cal Poly Web site.

“Perhaps it’s because of our increase in visibility,” Watton said.  “Most people feel safer here than at home.”

But, that doesn’t mean students can not fall victim to theft of their bicycles, backpacks or things out of their cars.

When it comes to possessions in cars, theft usually occurs because someone leaves valuables on the seat.

Also, there is alcohol affiliated with a large number of activities off campus, which increases the likelihood of a crime occuring.

“Typically we see people in trouble when alcohol is involved,” Watton said.  “They drank too much, which can lead to aggression and a fight or a sexual assault.”

It’s hard for the Sexual Assault and Rape Prevention Center in town to track the number of actual sexual assaults since a majority aren’t reported, said Shannon Chasin, who works in crisis services.

“Usually it’s between two college students,” Chasin said. “A majority occur between acquaintances. It’s not the man hiding in the bush synopsis.”

Chasin advises students to be cautious about where they are at and who they are with.

“The biggest thing is to be aware, trust your instinct and don’t get yourself alone, always use the buddy system,” Chasin said.

The University Police Department hears rumors of drugs placed in drinks from time to time, but it’s not a mainstream thing, Watton said.

If a  sexual assault does occur, the SARP center provides free services such as confidential counseling, clinical therapy and advocacy and accompaniment to law enforcement training and court proceedings.  Their 24-hour hotline, 545-8000, connects callers to state certified sexual assault counselors.

To prevent a sexual assault, the SARP center provides women empowerment and self-defense courses privately to dorms or clubs.  

They will be on campus during WOW at the Awareness Fair with additional information.

University police provide an escort van for students Sunday through Thursday from dusk until midnight.  They stop outside of the library and Rec Center every half an hour and drive students up to a half-mile off campus. 

For those living in the dorms, there are also precautionary measures to take to protect yourself and your belongings. Although the outside doors to the dorms are locked at all times, some people do not close the door all the way and Watton suggests locking rooms at all times.

In case of an emergency, a 911 call from any campus phone is dispatched to the University Police Department, while cell phone calls are not, so be sure to request the dispatch when calling.

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