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Removal of the red handprints once found near the residence halls inspired Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) to exhibit the prints somewhere else – on T-shirts members wore Thursday in protest.

“We want to raise awareness,” said Abbie Livingston, PSA co-director and a history senior. “A lot of people don’t know (the handprints) are even gone.”

Nelson Bonilla, PSA co-director and computer science senior, said the handprints need to be repainted because they symbolize knowledge and caution.

“Students may not take the precautions at the dorms that they might in other places if they aren’t reminded that a sexual assault has occurred there,” Bonilla said. “They might let their guard down.”

About 10 PSA members wore the shirts on campus Thursday, spread out individually where they could be seen in classrooms, walking outside and doing everyday activities in various campus spots.

The T-shirts, some handmade, were marked with various statements. One style advertised the message “If they won’t tell them I will” and is paired with a hand-dipped print stamped on the front. Another illustrates the shell of an empty hand to convey the prints are gone but are wanted back, said Julia Sinclair-Palm, director of Cal Poly’s Sexual Assault-Free Environment Service Program (S.A.F.E.R.).

Sinclair-Palm said the Women’s Center was not involved in the protest but did supply some ReMEmber T-shirts to PSA.

“The campus needs to take a stance to end sexual assault,” she said. With the prints gone, she also said that the Women’s Center staff wishes to address the concerns that the PSA and other students are currently tackling.

“We would like to create further education and awareness that the handprints brought to students,” she said

Like Sinclair-Palm, Bonilla said he too understands the removal as a result of parental concerns, but there is a greater lesson to be learned from the presence of the handprints.

“It’s understandable that ‘someone was assaulted here’ isn’t the most welcoming message when you first come to college,” he said. “But if they don’t know, then it’s possible assault could happen to them too.”

The safety of Cal Poly’s residents is a priority with the Housing and Residential Life staff, according to the department’s Web site.

It said each student receives a flier during fall quarter check-in defining sexual assault and discussing preventative measures. Other programs such as a required personal safety workshop and a Residence Hall handbook are also provided to students.

Aside from personal awareness, Sinclair-Palm said the handprints also symbolized respect for survivor of the assault.

Knowledge is crucial to student safety, Livingston said. The community and campus as a whole need to know that PSA plans to keep informing people of the handprints and what they stand for, and continue the effort to get them back.

“We want to keep the cycle of awareness going,” she said.

Although the Housing and Residential Life staff’s reaction to the protest is not known, members of PSA said they hope to get the handprints repainted and think there’s a good chance of it happening, Livingston said.

“Wether or not they come back though, I’m glad we were able to inform students about sexual assault awareness,” she said.

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