Update Jan. 18:
In response to the letter sent to Cal Poly administration by student groups outlining demanded actions, university spokesperson Matt Lazier emailed Mustang News a statement on behalf of the university:
“Sexual misconduct is abhorrent and unwelcome in all of its forms on Cal Poly’s campus.
Among the various investigative and support services we provide relative to sexual misconduct in our campus community, the university’s Title IX program (through of Office of Equal Opportunity) operates under the mandate of the California State University system.
University administration stands firmly behind the campus’s Title IX program. Our highly trained Title IX professionals appropriately handle each report they receive and, whenever possible, investigate fully.
Some complaints unfortunately are received with too little information or lack of jurisdiction, thus preventing a full investigation. In cases that do lead to full investigations, our Title IX staff follows CSU mandate to gather all relevant information and render decisions, in as timely a manner as possible, based upon the preponderance of evidence in each specific case. In all cases, due process for all involved parties is paramount.”
Cal Poly students and community members marched in the University Union (UU) Plaza Tuesday as part of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. The protest rallied against rape culture and lack of justice for survivors at Cal Poly and in the United States.
Demonstrators started at the UU Plaza, listening to several student speakers share their personal stories with sexual assault. The group marched towards the Robert E. Kennedy Library and then to Cal Poly’s Administration building.
There have been 140 sexual misconduct complaints in the last two years at Cal Poly, including at least seven complaints against the same Cal Poly student.
“They didn’t even bother to investigate all of them. They only investigated 44, and of those 44 only 19 faced early repercussions,” philosophy senior and member of Students for Quality Education (SQE) Gina Welisch said. “And those repercussions can literally be something as simple as just moving them to a different classroom or moving them to a different dorm, which opens them up to a whole new group of potential victims.”
The march was organized by more than 10 student organizations, including Cal Poly Democrats, Cal Poly Movimento Estudiantil Xicano De Aztlán (MEXA), SQE, Planned Parenthood #GenerationAction and SLO Peace Coalition.
“As the #MeToo movement has really shown, issues of sexual assault are a lot more widespread than a lot people understood or believed until very recently,” political science and English senior and vice president of Cal Poly Democrats Erin Chazer said. “So I think that it’s really important that we get as many people as possible, everyone really, to be coming out and speaking out against it. Everybody should try to be an ally and protect the people that are going to be victimized.”
The students delivered a letter listing demands to Cal Poly administration. The letter included demands for a written statement sent out to all of the Cal Poly community. The letter outlines concerns about the Title IX outcomes on campus, a zero tolerance policy for fraternities that are found in violation of the Title IX policy and increased funding for Safer that does not come from increased student fees.
“After reading all the cases we read in the newspaper and seeing so many people within our personal lives go through struggles with Title IX, struggles with sexual assault in their own lives we felt it was necessary to organize and have this event and write a list of demands to the school asking for further investigation and more transparency with such cases,” biochemistry sophomore and member of MEXA Gabriela Guillén said.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that in the last two years, Cal Poly received 140 sexual assault complaints. It has been corrected to say sexual misconduct complaints. Of those 140, some complaints do not provide enough information for the Title IX Office to investigate. Some cases lack necessary information for an investigation, such as the identity of the complainant/respondent, others are a situation where the university has no jurisdiction over a respondent because they are not a student or employee or lack of cooperation by a complainant or witnesses.