Sexual Assault Policy


California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo is strongly committed to providing an educational environment in which students, faculty, and staff work together in an atmosphere free of sexual assault.  The University views any act identified as sexual assault as a serious matter.  Every member of the University community should be aware that sexual assault is prohibited by state law and University policy.  This institution will vigorously discipline and/or prosecute persons identified as responsible for assaults as described in this policy.

The University is committed to ensuring that students, employees, or other persons who have been sexually assaulted, including acquaintance rape, are provided treatment, assistance, and information and are treated with sensitivity, care and confidentiality to the extent permitted by law. 

Definition and Classification of Sexual Assault


California Penal Code Sections 220, 243.4, 261, 264.1, 286, 288, and 289 define sexual assault as any sexual act or attempted sexual act in which a person is threatened, coerced, or forced to comply against his or her will, or he or she is incapable of giving consent or unconscious of the nature of the act. Additional descriptions of sexual assault (excerpted from the California Penal Code) are defined as:

  • Sexual Battery is any unwanted touching of intimate body parts
  • Rape is forced sexual intercourse that is perpetrated against the will of the survivor or when he or she is unable to or incapable of giving consent (i.e., unconscious, asleep or under the influence of alcohol or drugs) and may involve physical violence, coercion, or the threat of harm of the survivor
  • Rape is complete at the point of penetration no matter how slight that penetration
  • Acquaintance Rape involves rape by a non-stranger who could be a friend, acquaintance, family member, neighbor or co-worker
  • Date Rape involves rape by someone with whom the survivor has been or is a voluntary companion
  • Acquaintance Gang Rape is a rape by more than one person, at least one of whom is known to the survivor. 

California Administrative Code Title 5, Education Part 5 Section 41301 (Code of Student Conduct) specifically prohibits “conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person within or related to the University community, including physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, or sexual misconduct.”  Any violation of the Code of Student Conduct by an individual will be investigated for possible disciplinary and legal action regardless of whether the alleged assault occurred on or off campus.


Note: It is common for survivors to question whether an assault may be defined as sexual assault.  In such cases the survivor is strongly encouraged to call any of the resources listed in this policy and seek assistance and clarification regarding their particular situation.  

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What is Consent?


For purposes of criminal prosecution for sexual assault, California Penal Code Sec. 261.6 defines “consent” to mean “positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will. The person must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved. A current or previous dating or marital relationship shall not be sufficient to constitute consent where consent is at issue in a prosecution (for sexual assault).”

For purposes of University policy, the responsibility for establishing consent rests upon the person who is initiating the sexual activity. To establish that someone has consented to sexual activity, the person must either hear this consent stated verbally or receive this communication nonverbally in a way that would nonetheless be seen as consent by reasonable people. As noted above, consent cannot be established simply on the basis of a current or previous dating or romantic relationship. In addition, consent may be withdrawn at any time during the sexual act.

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Reporting an Assault


The University recognizes that survivors of sexual assault may minimize the impact of what happened to them, potentially delaying the reporting of the assault or seeking help. All survivors are encouraged to seek assistance in addressing the traumatic impact of the crime of sexual assault, whether through reporting the assault or seeking counseling, advocacy, or other services.

In general, survivors of sexual assault have several options for reporting the assault and/or accessing resources.  These include:

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Criminal Investigation Option: Reporting to Law Enforcement


As soon after the assault as possible, survivors of sexual assault, whether they are students or employees, are strongly encouraged to report the assault to law enforcement. Sexual assaults may be reported to the University Police Department at 756-2281 (if the assault occurred on campus property) or to the appropriate local law enforcement agency, if the assault occurred outside the University Police jurisdiction. If the survivor is uncertain where to report, s/he can contact University Police and will be advised regarding the correct law enforcement agency. The website address for University Police is:

Note: In most cases, the decision to pursue any of these options is completely left to the survivor, although it is important to be aware that there are exceptions to privacy, for example, police agencies may be required to investigate a report of sexual assault. In addition, the University reserves the right to investigate a complaint if it involves a member of the University community. 

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Student Disciplinary Option: Reporting to the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities


Any member of the Cal Poly State University community who believes that s/he has been sexually assaulted by a Cal Poly student (on or off the Cal Poly campus) may report the assault to the Director of the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities (DOSRR) at 756-2794. The Director of OSRR (DOSRR) investigates alleged violations of university policy and takes appropriate action under California State University Student Disciplinary procedures. The DOSRR is responsible for ensuring fair administration of the student disciplinary process and maintaining confidential disciplinary records. 

Note: There may be circumstances where substantial threat to the University community would necessitate the OSRR reserving the right to initiate an investigation, and, where applicable, take appropriate disciplinary action. See website for more information at Dean of Students.

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Student Organizations:  Reporting to the Dean of Students


The Dean of Students office and Cross Cultural Centers will receive and consider reports of organizations alleged to have condoned, promoted, or been involved in activities relating to sexual assault.  Such organizations may have their University recognition withdrawn and/or other sanctions imposed.

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Personnel Disciplinary Option:  Reporting to the Office of Equal Opportunity


Any member of the Cal Poly community who believes that s/he has been sexually assaulted by a staff or faculty member of the University may contact the Director of Equal Opportunity. In accordance with University policies and practices and collective bargaining agreements, a personnel investigation, separate from any police investigation, may be initiated. 

As noted previously, whenever possible, the wishes of the survivor will be sought regarding whether to pursue a University policy violation investigation. However, when the assault involves a member of the campus community, the University reserves the right to initiate an administrative investigation and when applicable, take appropriate disciplinary action.

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Assistance and Support Options
Residence Halls


Residence Hall residents may seek assistance through the residence hall staff.  Any report of the crime of sexual assault is treated as a mandated report by residence hall staff, and thus the University Police Department is immediately contacted. Housing and Residential Life staff work with survivors to immediately link them with appropriate campus and community referrals.

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Collection of Forensic Evidence or Medical Treatment


If a survivor of sexual assault decides to file a police report, it is important that physical evidence be collected as soon after the assault as possible. In San Luis Obispo County, the Suspected Abuse Response Team (SART) consists of a specially trained team of doctors, nurses and nurse examiners who are responsible for conducting the medical-legal exam to collect evidence and to check the health of sexual assault survivors.

Cal Poly student survivors who do not want to file a police report, but are interested in being tested and/or treated for STI’s, pregnancy or injuries resulting from a sexual assault may seek treatment at Health Services at Cal Poly at 756-1211.

It is important to know that in some circumstances, injuries resulting from domestic or relationship violence are mandated to be reported to law enforcement.

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Confidential Counseling


Any survivor seeking confidential counseling or advocacy may contact the Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention Center (SARP) in San Luis Obispo, now called RISE, at 855-886-RISE (7473), provides a 24-hour crisis line, short- and long-term counseling on a sliding scale, advocacy, and accompaniment services to survivors of sexual assault.

Cal Poly student survivors may also contact Cal Poly Counseling Services, 756-2511,

Counseling through either of these resources may be initiated at any time following the assault.

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Information and Other Resources


The Gender Equity Center on campus, through the Safer program provides a safe, supportive environment and trained staff prepared to guide Cal Poly community survivors through the process of determining what action to take. Safer staff is also available to provide information regarding community resources.

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Intimidation and Retaliation Against Involved Parties


Retaliation against any involved parties and/or witnesses will not be tolerated, particularly any threats, stalking, harassment, or conduct which threatens the health or safety of any potential witness. This also includes dissuading or preventing any involved parties from attending or giving testimony at any proceeding or inquiry involving an allegation of sexual assault under this policy, or any attempt to contact, harass, or intimidate potential witnesses involved in any criminal and/or student disciplinary process, whether in person, by telephone, by regular or electronic mail, through associates or by any other means. In addition, dissuading or preventing involved parties from giving testimony may be a violation of 136.1 of the Penal Code and could result in arrest and/or felony criminal charges being filed. The University will work with anyone reporting an act of sexual assault to protect them from any of the above actions and to encourage them to report any such actions so they may be investigated and/or disciplined appropriately.

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As an institution of higher learning, Cal Poly is committed to working toward an ever more supportive and safe environment for all members of the campus community. Anyone who believes they have been sexually assaulted by a member of the campus community is strongly encouraged to report the incident to University officials so that appropriate support and action may be taken. It is only through either formal or informal reporting that the incidence of sexual assault can be reduced.

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  • Date approved by the President:  September 6, 2006
  • Editorial changes made May 22, 2014 and May 29, 2014
  • Office responsible for implementation:  Office of Student Affairs
  • Date when the policy is to be reviewed and by whom (where stipulated): 
  • Sunset clause (where stipulated): 
  • Related University Policies/Documents/Manuals/Handbooks: 
  • Any laws, regulations or codes of practice which should be referred to in conjunction with the policy:  California Penal Code Sections 220, 243.4, 261, 264.1, 286, 288 and 289; California Administrative Code Title 5, Education Part 5 Section 41301; California Assembly Bill 3098, Chapter 423, Statutes of 1990.  


Sexual Assault Education and Prevention Policy



The Sexual Assault Education and Prevention Policy, symbolized by the Red Handprint, provides for the establishment and implementation of a campus-wide sexual assault prevention program under the authority of the President’s designee, the Vice President for Student Affairs, with the support and assistance of the other University vice presidents.

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Policy Objective



The objective of the University’s Sexual Assault Education and Prevention Policy is to ensure that students, faculty and staff are aware, informed, educated and/or actively involved in efforts to address and prevent sexual assault at Cal Poly and in the larger San Luis Obispo community.  Other related policy includes Campus Administrative Policies (CAP) on sexual assault (CAP 161) and sexual harassment (AB 98-2). See also charge for the Workplace Violence Prevention Committee.

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Program Elements



  • Centrally located permanent displays dedicated to survivors and victims of sexual assault that have been approved by the Vice President for Administration and Finance for placement in the following high student traffic areas:  University Union Plaza ,University Campus Market Plaza , and University Housing lobbies.
  • Movable displays, to be utilized in conjunction with sexual assault prevention events.
  • Posting of the Red Handprint Program and related educational information and programs on campus websites.
  • University events and activities to promote student, faculty and staff awareness and engagement regarding sexual assault and its prevention.
  • Partnership and collaboration with local sexual assault prevention and education programs including the Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention Program (SARP).
  • Educational programs designed to reach commuter students and University-affiliated clubs and organizations, including Greek-letter organizations.
  • Collaboration with the San Luis Obispo Police Department, District Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement agencies.

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  • Date approved by the President:  August 10, 2009
  • Office responsible for implementation: Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.
  • Related University Policies/Documents/Manuals/Student Handbooks:  Red Handprint Program Procedures (maintained jointly by the Offices of the Vice Presidents for Student Affairs and Administration and Finance); CAPs 140 and 161; ASI Resolution 05-11.
  • Any laws, regulations or codes of practice which should be referred to in conjunction with the policy: California Penal Code Sections 220, 243.4, 261, 264.1, 286, 288 and 289; California Administrative Code Title 5, Education Part 5, Section 41301; California Assembly Bill 3098, Chapter 423, Statutes of 1990; California Assembly Bill 1088.
  • Red Handprint Program Procedures – Offices of the Vice Presidents for Student Affairs and Vice President for Administration and Finance.
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