Amelia Meyerhoff: Working Against Sexual Assault at Cal Poly

It is no surprise to many women on campus that Cal Poly has a sexual assault problem. While this is an issue at most college campuses, Cal Poly has one of the highest rates of sexual assaults of all the CSUs. That makes this problem especially worse for people here, and we should be striving more to fix it. After an article I wrote earlier this quarter on the subject of sexual assault I received a message from a female student on campus who is doing her senior project on this very problem.

Amelia Meyerhoff is a fourth year English major at Cal Poly, whose senior project includes doing research into the problems of sexual assault on campus. After being assaulted she went to group counseling and discovered many women on campus have the same story as her. 

“When I was in the group therapy I was just so pissed off because all the other women in there were saying the same things that I had gone through, plus worse,” Meyerhoff said.

Women commonly had problems, not just with assault, but with how the campus chooses to deal with it. She claims that many women on campus have had problems when it comes to reporting to the Title IX office after their assault. 

“Often when [survivors] share their stories in like a formal setting, like reporting, people will ask them dumb questions like ‘What were you wearing?’ ‘How much did you drink?" Meyerhoff said.

This presents a clear problem with how Cal Poly chooses to handle, or not handle, instances of sexual violence. Meyerhoff named the Title IX office and University Police Departments (UPD) as some of the resources that were problematic when women came to report. After hearing the same story over and over again, Meyerhoff started interviewing women on campus and writing down their stories for her senior project. Hearing stories in counseling inspired her to seek out more survivors and hear their experiences.

“The reason I’m doing this is to kind of interview survivors in a way that they aren’t judged or blamed for what happened and like I can personally relate to some of what they’re saying,”  Meyerhoff said.

How are we as a community supposed to be working against instances of sexual assault if those in charge blame victims. Meyerhoff’s project allows survivor’s to relate their stories free from judgment and blame, giving greater recognition to sexual assault on campus.

With her project Meyerhoff also hopes to bring back the red hands project on campus. This was an installation done a few years ago by S.A.F.E.R. in which they placed red hand prints around campus to signify where sexual assaults had occurred. However, the red hand prints were taken down by officials on campus, thereby leading to the silencing of the conversation started by S.A.F.E.R.. She wants to bring this project back to campus, and hopes it will not be taken down a second time. The red hands also lead to her inspiration for her flyer, which displays a red hand print behind an advertisement for her project.