Credit: Solena Aguilar | Mustang News

Safer hired one full-time advocate for students that have experienced gender and power based violence on May 11. The university promised to hire two additional advocates in the fall of 2019, but still have not hired them, and hiring is currently on hold due to a university wide hiring freeze.  

Safer is a confidential resource to address power-based violence, including sexual assault, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual exploitation and harassment. These Safer advocates and crisis counselors do one-on-one counseling, help survivors with school accommodations, the Title IX process, connect them with resources and overall act as a support system for students. 

Safer is a part of Campus Health and Wellbeing and has access to staff with expertise in counseling services, administrative support and case management. The Safer advocate is able to focus primarily on providing support for survivors.

Advocacy appointments are still offered virtually, through phone or Zoom. Appointments will be available within 24 hours of a scheduled request.

Cal Poly is not moving forward to hire any temporary advocates at this time, as they are typically the first employees to be laid off in times of financial crisis, according university spokesperson Matt Lazier.

“We felt it was irresponsible and unethical to move forward and hire new advocates, knowing that we would have to end their employment with Cal Poly,” Lazier wrote in an email.

The university is exploring off-campus resources to provide support to the campus community, such as RISE, an organization that provides services for survivors of sexual and intimate assault.

Cal Poly Students for Advocate Support Services (SASS) formed to respond to the lack of Safer advocates when the quarter moved online. SASS is a survivor and ally lead group of nine students working to make sure these Safer advocates get hired.

The group has four demands they are submitting to administration.

  • The recently vacated advocate position be filled by July 1. (This position was filled May 11.)
  • The two additional advocate positions are filled by the first week of fall quarter 2020.
  • Sustainable funding is established for all three positions.
  • The university provides access to statements summarizing where funds are being taken from and allocated to.  

SASS has a petition to get these advocates hired and will submit it to administration once they have reached 500 signatures; about 460 people have signed the petition so far. 

The petition states that advocates are essential in supporting victims of power-based violence on campus. In 2017, there was a 45 percent increase in use of Safer resources, according to the Safer annual report.

“What it all comes down to is empathy and wanting the health and well-being of every student to be a priority at this school,” SASS member Sarandon Gilbert said. “We all have an emotional stake in this issue, so it’s wanting more and wanting better for the students on this campus and we are in a unique position to help people do that.” 

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