Opinion » Shredder

Crime floppers



Cal Poly used to paint a red handprint on campus anywhere a sexual assault occurred. They were all over—a sad reminder that a young person was attacked on that very spot at a place they assumed was safe. In 2005, Cal Poly ended the red handprint campaign because too many parents and prospective students on tours of the campus kept asking what they were about. Apparently, it's hard to recruit students when it looks like they're being attacked at every turn.


Cal Poly replaced its blanket of red handprints with a handful of memorials at a few locations. I'm sure you'll be deeply surprised to learn that the memorials have done nothing to stop sexual assault. Last month, on Oct. 4 and 10, two more Cal Poly students were raped on campus. In response—aside from two emails informing the university population of the assaults—the university essentially shrugged its shoulders and said, "What are you gonna do, eh?"

"Sexual misconduct in any form is not welcome on Cal Poly's campus," Cal Poly's Media Relations Director Matt Lazier wrote in an email to New Times. "It is heartbreaking, abhorrent, and against everything for which our university stands. Unfortunately, it is also a reality both in our society and on our campus. We support our students in their effort to make their voices heard and to further the discussion of how Cal Poly can continue to address this important societal issue."

OK, let's see. Cal Poly agrees that rape is "is not welcome" or condoned by the university, and that it supports its students' right to complain about it, and the university's solution is to please have students discuss among themselves how to stop it ... which they can't because it's "a reality both in our society and on our campus."

Wow. Did you just admit Cal Poly Police are useless? Well done, Cal Poly. Slow. Clap.

According to Lazier, campus po-po do regular patrols and offer walking escorts from Thursday through Saturday nights. Did you get that, rapists? Sunday and through Wednesday is open season. Yikes!

About 100 students gathered in the University Union on Oct. 27 to attend a survivor support talk. One of the people in attendance was SLO's new mayor Erica Stewart, whose day job is assistant director of personnel and marketing at the university's Campus Health and Wellbeing department.

"I know that sitting here today, it feels a little bit nerve-racking that you don't feel 100 percent safe," she told the crowd. "I can't promise that everyone's going to feel 100 percent safe, but I know that we're going to work very hard to make you feel safer in this community both on campus and off."

"Feel safer"? How about actually "be safer"? If platitudes were protective, I'm sure everyone would breathe a collective sigh of relief, but empty promises won't end sexual assault on campus or off. In fact, apparently there is no solution. Rape happens, kids. Get used to it. At least the university hasn't resorted to victim blaming: "What were you wearing?" "Why were you walking alone?" "Why don't you carry pepper spray?"

Why? Why? Why? What a world we live in, amirite? Can we just admit that the police almost never stop crimes from occurring. They're custodians mopping up the mess afterward. In the case of San Luis Obispo, they're very well-funded custodians—eating up more than a quarter of the city's $156 million budget.

But hey, I'm sure another $52 million will make them crime stoppers! That's the prospective price tag for a new San Luis Obispo Police Station ... er, sorry ... new public safety center, which police say is desperately needed and which the SLO City Council—including SLO Mayor Stewart—don't seem very interested in debating. How long ago were we discussing defunding the police? Seems like ages ago!

The current station needs seismic retrofitting, isn't Americans with Disability Act compliant, doesn't have enough storage space, has a "challenging" layout, needs better security, and the roof leaks. A cool $18 million can update the current station, but wah! It's too small! The police want to go BIG!

Good to know, but shouldn't the debate be between spending $18 million and $52 million instead of whether the new "public safety center" should have a "community room"? Seriously! Anti-community room Mayor Stewart and Councilmember Andy Pease are going back and forth with pro-community-room Councilmembers Jan Marx and Carlyn Christianson.

Who freakin' cares about a stupid community room? Do the police really need a fancy new 37,768-square-foot building from which to conduct DUI patrols, issue noise violations to students, and hassle the homeless? Can't they do that from their existing 16,388-square-foot building? Is this extra space going to stop a rape, burglary, or murder? This is the sort of nonsense that chaps the public's hide. The council is acting as if building the police this fancy new center is a foregone conclusion.

Meanwhile, the SLO Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America is circulating a petition to reject spending $52 million on this so-called "public safety center," which they rightly note is being marketed as part of the city's goal of "diversity, equity, and inclusion."

Come again?

Yeah, you'll have a community room to hang out in and talk about racial justice and stuff. Whoop-de-freaking-do. Δ

The Shredder's eyes hurt from rolling in disbelief. Send rants and raves to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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