H-CAL POLY

May 12, 2011 8:43 PM by Danielle Lerner

Students voice concerns over how University Police spread the word about reported rape

A campus wide alert from University Police at Cal Poly is sparking some controversy.

A college-aged woman told University Police Sunday that she was raped at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house. She said it happened Saturday night.

In an alert sent out Tuesday Cal Poly said the woman was intoxicated and unconscious. Some students say the wording in that alert was offensive and insensitive.

About 50 people gathered Thursday morning for a forum put on by Cal Poly's Sexual Assault-Free Environment Resource Program, or SAFER, and the Sexual Assault Resource and Prevention Center. One of their main concerns is a campus wide alert issued by University Police Tuesday.

The alert states that, "the rape of an intoxicated and unconscious college-aged female" was reported, and it goes on to point out that it happened "at or following a fraternity social function."

Kara Barbieri says that wording places blame on the woman reporting the crime. She is a member of SAFER and volunteers with the SARP Center.

"It is a very sensitive issue and how you initially bring it up is very impactful," Barbieri said.

Third-Year Student Alexandra Schindler agrees.

"The mention of the intoxication makes some implicit judgements about the situation," said Schindler.

University Police insist they meant no harm by it. Cal Poly Police Chief William Watton says he is bound, by law, to include that sort of information.

"Unfortunately alcohol is one of the issues," said Watton. "Alcohol, drugs is one of the allegations, so to make sure that our community can remain safe, we have to put those kinds of details in there."

SAFER and the SARP Center Thursday also encouraged both men and women to speak up, to take an active role in preventing any type of sexual assault from occurring on campus. For more information on those two organizations visit the Newslinks section of ksby.com.

The rape investigation is ongoing, it's been turned over to the San Luis Obispo Police Department. Meantime the university and national Sig Ep headquarters have sanctioned the fraternity house. That means the chapter is closed down for all activities until the investigation wraps up.

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