Let’s Practice Self-Defense!

  • Assault can and does occur at Cal Poly
  • ASI and Safer offering self-defense workshops
  • Attendees react positively to workshop
  • Safer and Cavaliere would like more participants

Safer and ASI have put forth a series of self-defense seminars here at Cal Poly.  Christina Kaviani, Safer Coordinator, has played a role in starting these workshops.


Sensei Cavaliere addresses the class and explains what the itinerary is.

“These workshops get student’s thinking what they would do if they were ever in a situation,” she said. ” And gets them wrapping their head around the idea that they might have to do something to protect themselves.”

How Safe is Safe?

Cal Poly is known as a relatively safe campus.  According to the clery report given by the University Police Department, there were four cases of sexual offenses and two of aggravated assault committed in 2010-2012.

These statistics contradict with that of Safer’s crisis counseling statistics.  In the spring quarter of 2013 alone, 14 individuals visited Safer for crisis counseling because of sexual violence.

Safer and ASI reached out to Daniel Cavaliere, owner of United States Academy of Martial Arts, to inform students of basic self-defense techniques.

Workshop is in Session

This workshop is geared towards beginners who don’t really have much experience with martial arts.  Cavaliere acknowledges this and makes it one of his primary goals that these beginners walk away with useful information.

“This class, what I hope to accomplish is to take people who don’t have any background and give them some very simplistic and straightforward things that they can easily recall ten years down the road and have some go to things and give them a general strategy to implement,” he said.

Let’s Start With the Basics

He teaches the class through five basic elements:

  • Avoid being struck
  • Striking back
  • Avoid restraints
  • On the ground (Jiu Jitsu)
  • Soft physical assertiveness and improvised weapons
Sensei Cavaliere shows a student how to inhibit an attacker.

Sensei Cavaliere shows a student how to inhibit an attacker.

Through each of these basic elements, attendees learn invaluable maneuvers that will help them be prepared for possible assaults.

The Students

Kailie Johnson, a first year architecture major, attended the self-defense workshop last week in the Cal Poly Recreation Center.


Sensei Cavaliere shows the class a striking back technique.

“I expected some general information on how to safely remove yourself from trouble situations and basic moves on how to get out of common attacking positions,” she said.

At the workshop, Cavaliere didn’t focus so much on how to remove yourself from the situation, but rather on basic moves to keep you safe when confrontation occurs.

“Nothing you do today is wrong.  It’s all beneficial,” Cavaliere said to his students.

The course also emphasizes the idea that ‘space’ between you and the attacker is actually quite volatile.  The closer you are to the attacker, the safer you actually are.

“As space gets closer and shrinks it actually can become safer,” he said. “Which is very counterintuitive then what you want.”


Michael Reyes avoids a strike from ‘attacker’ Kailie Johnson. Participants practiced new moves on each other.

Michael Reyes, a fourth year sociology major, also attended the self-defense workshop last week..  There he practiced skills that he could potentially always remember.

“One technique that I”ll never forget were the wrist grabs and the elbow to chest movement,” he said.  “It’s really effective for getting away if somebody has a good grip on you.”

The More the Merrier

There were only six participants at last week’s workshop.  The class is designed for a larger group.

Cavaliere pointed out that the amount of people that show up varies.  At earlier workshops he’s had over 20 students show up.

“With more people, I think the class receives a better experience because they feel more free to participate,” he said.

Christina Kaviani would love to see more people show up, but points out the amount of people that show up isn’t consistent with the requests she has received.

“We get a lot of inquiries about self-defense and then we don’t get as many people that show up,” she said.  “Right now we need students that are really excited about it to start going and then talking about it because word of mouth is the strongest way to do outreach,”  she said.

Despite how many people show up, Cavaliere’s loves being able to teach these beginners the ‘magic’ of martial arts and all that it encompasses. 

“With a little bit of knowledge and  know-how, you can pull off this magic,” he said. “So I love to see that ‘ah ha’ moment occur with people who especially don’t have any background.”

Where the Freshmen At?

  • Record amount of freshmen at Cal Poly.
  • Safety a top priority among staff.
  • Concerns differ between types of residents.

As a class, the freshmen at Cal Poly have already learned a lot.  We’ve figured out how to constantly clog the bike lanes and that mattresses don’t go well with fire.  However all jokes aside,  our class as a whole has truly gone through a lot.  In nearly two quarters, in addition to learning all the material taught in classes, freshmen have also had to adapt to life in the dorms and the issues that come associated with this.  One of these issues being safety, both individually and communally.

Dorm Life


Lassen is one of the North Mountain dorms. Dorms within North Mountain have exterior entrances.

The class of 2017 is the largest freshman class ever enrolled at Cal Poly to date.  Out of the 4,871 first-time freshmen, nearly 98% have opted to live on campus even though the university does not require it.  These freshmen are therefore living in on-campus housing, also called the dorms.  However there are a multitude of different dorms on campus that students live in.

There are Sierra Madre and Yosemite, which are affectionately referred to as the ‘towers’ due to the fact that they are both apart of the connection towers.  Then there are the Living Learning Program dorms, which are known as the ‘red bricks’.  Both the towers and red bricks have the traditional layout of college dorms as persons in each hall share a communal bathroom and live in closer proximity.

North Mountain is another set of dorms where freshmen live.  These dorms are a cross breed of  traditional dorms and apartment rooms.  The last two places where freshman live are suite-style apartments, these being in Cerro Vista and Poly Canyon Village.  Despite the numerous types of on-campus housing, safety for residents remains a top priority in each.

The Peace Keepers

Each residence hall has trained persons in charge of maintaining safety at the dorms.  These being  Coordinators of Student Development (CSD) and Residential/Community Advisers (RA/CA).

Joella Oddi, a third year nutrition major, is the CA at Morro, which is one of the Cerro Vista apartment complexes.

“All the community advisers are available for any safety concerns that any of the residents might have,” she said. “There are two of us on call every night and we do rounds looking for safety concerns regarding students health and looking for strangers that might be on the premises.”

Oddi is one of the many RAs/CAs living within the dorms. Most of the time they are able to take care of the concerns of the residents, however when they can’t they go to their CSD.


McDougall helps one of the residents within Trinity with her class schedule.

Amy McDougall is the CSD in Trinity, one of the red bricks, and she acknowledges the relationship between the RAs and CSDs.

“We are the ones who get called when the situation gets too big for the RA’s to handle.” she said.

CSDs serve on an on-call rotation.  This being that each night, one of the CSDs within the red bricks and towers takes all the calls from the RAs and one of the CSDs in the apartments gets all the calls from the CAs.  However, if the situation becomes too much for them they have a plan.

“We work very closely with UPD and the paramedics to ensure student’s safety.” McDougall said.

Within on-campus housing there are numerous safety concerns among the persons living there.

Safety Concerns


Gypsum is home to the freshmen apartments in PCV. Freshmen live here due to the large freshman class.

Safety concerns range from individual safety to the safety of the community.  Scott Sakamoto,  a first year business major, lives in Gypsum which is the freshmen apartments in Poly Canyon Village.  He feels relatively safe within the apartment complex but has one main concern.

“Sometimes people see other people outside the door and just let them in without knowing who they are,” he said. “You don’t want to be that guy that doesn’t let them in, but sometimes it’s sketchy.”

McDougall constantly has to remind students not to just let anybody into the hall and turn a ‘blind eye’ to it

“If students feel like somebody shouldn’t be in the hall they need to make sure they are doing something about it.” she said.

Common Concerns Among Residents

  • Strangers within the halls
  • Theft
  • Overdose on drugs and alcohol
  • Vandalism to property

However, McDougall has a different issue at the top of concern list. This being personal safety in regards to consuming unsafe amounts of drugs and alcohol and students not holding each other accountable.

“To me as a CSD one of the scariest calls you can get is for a student who is unresponsive and needs to be transported to the hospital.”

This is why at the beginning of the year the university has multiple programs regarding alcohol and drug education in order to reduce this safety risk.

Despite current risks and concerns, Joella Oddi feels good about her safety.

“Generally its a safe area and usually I feel pretty safe on campus.” she said.

Word on the Street: Safety

California Polytechnic State University: school, work, home.  These are just a few of the ways in which students see this university.  For the roughly 20,000 students who get to claim this place as their own, safety on campus is something that pertains to each and every individual.  Here are a few excerpts from students at Cal Poly regarding safety.

Why would you consider safety on campus to be important towards the overall college experience?


David Karditzas, second year industrial technology major, knows that safety and a positive college experience go together. He is upstairs in University Union studying with friends.

“As a student you are really here for your education and you don’t want any other distractions detracting from the experience and your journey towards success.  You know all those shootings?  Yea, you don’t want a distraction like that as a student.  So knowing that there are police here ensuring safety is just really comforting.”

What do you think the school is doing a good job at in regards to student’s safety on campus?


Cammie Tolleshaug, first year nutrition major, notices the efforts given off by the school to keep students at Cal Poly safe while hanging at with friends outside in University Union.

“I think they are doing a good job in having police always available and I always see them driving around all the time.  I also know that they have the… uh… little blue things where you can call and there are just a lot of resources that if you are feeling unsafe you have a place to go and they are there for you.”

What on campus, safety wise, can be improved upon?


Bradford Reller, third year construction management major, while hanging out at the Front Porch he points out that even though Cal Poly is generally a safe place, there is always something that can be done to improve upon safety.

“One thing i think that should be improved on is lighting along local walkways because in brighter areas people are less likely to mug somebody… or just do any sort of attack in general. So if you increase lighting crime rates will probably go down.”

The Bike Lane

  • Bikes are a prominent form of transportation at Cal Poly.
  • Bike theft apparent on campus.
  • Also problems associated with riding bikes as well.

There are mainly three ways to get around campus, well at least legally.  You can walk, drive a car, or you can bike.  Today we are looking at the latter.

Bikes on Bikes on Bikes

While walking around Cal Poly, it’s hard not to notice the unmistakable impact bikes have.  There are bike racks all over campus, bike lanes running everywhere, and fix-it yourself stations scattered throughout.


The Sequoia residence hall has bike parking behind their building. A lot of these bikes still have the yellow strips put on them by UPD before Christmas break.

A large portion of these bikes come from freshman living on campus. According to an article put out by Mustang News, only 19 percent of freshman brought cars this fall quarter.  Thus meaning a large portion of these students brought bicycles to school.

However, according to a survey conducted within Trinity, the majority of students that brought a bike to school don’t ride it regularly (once a week).

This fact brings bike theft into the equation as persons not regularly checking on their bike won’t know if their bike has been stolen.

Where Did It Go?

Bike theft is prominent on campus and UPD constantly gets reports regarding stolen bikes.  A lot of times these bikes are stolen and put on Craigslist for sale.

As shown in Cal Poly’s Campus Security Report, burglary makes up the largest portion of crime committed at Cal Poly.  In fact, during the last three years almost 70 percent of the crimes committed on campus were burglary related.

Officer Jason LeClair of the University Police Department explained how these bikes are stolen and sold for a profit.

“If you see a bike on Craigslist and think ‘this is too good to be true’, then it probably is,” Officer LeClair said.

Bikes are susceptible to theft due to multiple reasons, some of these being:


Officer LeClaire recommends buying these types of locks. U-Locks are a lot stronger than your typical wire lock.

  • Left unridden for too long.
  • Not strong enough locks.
  • Bikes left unlocked within racks.

Just recently, UPD busted a bicycle ring.  Men from Santa Maria were driving up to Cal Poly and stealing bicycles to sell on Craigslist.  The culprits were apprehended after a sting operation had occurred.

Students who report stolen bikes are often out of luck because they hadn’t registered their bike with University Police.  Bikes can be registered online.

In addition to there being safety concerns with theft of bikes, there are also safety concerns regarding bike riding in general.

Hey Look Out!

Getting to and from campus can definitely be a scary experience, whether you are a biker or walking.  Cameron Andrews, first year psychology major, often finds himself in the middle of the chaos.

“A lot of times there aren’t really clear paths for bikes,” he said. “They are constantly weaving in and out of traffic.”

There are multiple spots on campus that can be considered ‘high traffic’ zones.

In addition to the influx of traffic on campus, a lot of bikers also don’t adhere to all of the biking laws.  These laws include:

  • Adhering to traffic signs.
  • Using hand signals when turning.
  • Having a proper bike light when it’s dark.
  • Walking the bike in walk zones.
  • If under 18 years old, wear a helmet.

University Police Commander Brenda Trobaugh has seen the consequences of not following the rules.

“Student’s may not think these laws are a big deal,” she said. “It is a big deal though because when something happens we have to pick up the pieces.”

Athletics Gets Safer


Each poster has a quick bit showing somebody interfering sexual assault.

  • Safer and Cal Poly Athletics put out new ad campaign
  • Lack of bystander intervention on campus
  • Athletes excited to be a part of something bigger
  • Safer always looking to help out community

Safer has put out a new ad campaign that features Cal Poly athletes as the focal point.  The ads focus on bystander intervention and potentially helping out somebody that could be affected by sexual assault.

It Was Just an Idea…

Stephanie Howard, a third year liberal studies major, is keen on getting students aware of the affects of by standing by in relation to sexual assault.

“This idea was inspired by a program put on in Missoula (University of Montana).  The “Make Your Move” campaign,” she said.

The “Make Your Move” campaign is one put on by Missoula’s Intervention in Action Project, a group of community organizations dedicated to ending sexual violence.

Then It Became a Reality

Howard saw this idea on Facebook and went to Christina Kaviani, coordinator of Safer, and proposed that Cal Poly do somewhat of the same thing. However, having athletes featured on the posters is original to Cal Poly.

“Safer’s mission is to educate students throughout their time here.” she said.


Safer worked with the men’s lacrosse team. These ads can be found in the University Union.

Safer is Cal Poly’s primary resource for addressing sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking.  They provide support through education, advocacy and crisis counseling.

“With Safer, there is always room to grow,” Kaviani said.  “We try and work with as many people as we can.”

Safer works closely with the student affairs here on campus.  This being from the Cross Cultural Center, the Gender Equity Center, Pride, Associated Student Body, and the University Police Department she said.

Safer Works With…

“All agencies work well together,”Commander Trobaugh said. “Each agency compliments each other.”

A Different Dimension

The athletes were extremely eager to be a part of the new ad campaign.  Especially the Cal Poly women’s basketball team.

“Every time the women are on posters, it’s almost always promoting something athletic,” Howard said. “The women were happy to be involved in something more.”


These ads feature faces they want people to recognize.

The women’s team along with the coaching staff were also more than willing to help out with Safer’s vision.

“It’s a little intimidating when all the women are like five foot ten,” she said. “But all the women were really nice and willing to help out.”

In addition to this the coaches were just excited to help out as well, she said.

The Final Product

The ads have been put up throughout campus.  A handful can be found in the University Union.

“It’s been a lot of work getting this ad campaign together,” she said. “However, I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback about the ads and that makes it worth it.”

The purpose of these ads is to keep students aware of student intervention when aware of possible sexual assault.  They emphasize simply not standing back and letting sexual assault happen. This lack of action is acknowledged by others here on campus.

“The lack of action amongst students is affecting the community,” Commander Trobaugh said.

However if a student does have questions about bystander intervention or just safety on campus itself, Kaviani recommends coming to Safer.

“If I am not the right person to help them, I would definitely direct them in the right direction” she said. “Safer is a good place to start though.”

University Police Department… ’10-4′

  • Steve Aoki performed at Cal Poly
  • I went on a ride along with a University Police Officer during concert
  • UPD looks to keep improving
  • Students have different opinions of UPD

’10-4′  is an expression used by cops to express acknowledgment.  It basically means ‘ok’. And that’s what the University Police Department was after working the Steve Aoki concert this past weekend.

The Show has Arrived

On Friday night, Steve Aoki performed in the Recreation Center at Cal Poly.  This show was one of his many performances on the Winter White Tour.

The event drew a sold out crowd and required the services of many event staff as well as assistance from the University Police Department in order to keep the event safe.

I went on a ride along with one of the officers which was not directly working the concert and got to see what UPD officers do on the job.

Ride Along

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Tides are Changing

The University Police Department is in a current state of transition.

UPD now has a new police chief in George Hughes.  According to Mustang News, he was the previous police chief at the Colorado School of Mines Police Department.

“We are just trying to be the best police department we can possibly be,” commander Brenda Troubaugh said.

Commander Trobaugh states that the safety of the students and the community are also a high priority of the department.

“Our whole goal is to prevent anything bad from happening,” she said.  “In order to do this we need to educate the people.”

In order to advance this goal, the department has brought in a new staff with new expertise. In addition to this they are looking to acquire four more officers to accompany the population increase here on campus

“We’ve brought in officers from cities such as Atascadero and Fresno that have a lot of experience in the field,” Commander Trobaugh said.

The department is also going to bring in  new fleet of patrol cars.  They would be new SUVs compared to the older model sedans.

“These new vehicles will have more power than our current vehicles,” officer Jason LeClair said.

Improvements to the Department

  1. New Police Chief, George Hughes
  2. Officers with New Expertise
  3. More Officers
  4. New Patrol Cars

The Students

Despite these recent efforts students here on campus have differing views when it comes to the likes of the University Police Department.

Victoria Sanders, a first year English major, appreciates the University Police.

“My dad is a cop so I could be slightly biased,” she said. “But I think the cops are a benefit to the campus and they make campus safe.

Some students however disagree.

“I feel like UPD wastes time on the little things rather than bigger things,”  Cyrus Ebadat, a first year political science major, said.  “I think they drive around and look for belligerently drunk kids.”

Officer LeClair is aware that the public isn’t always going to like what they are doing.  It’s all a part of the job.

“Kids as gonna do what they are gonna do,” he said. ” I just try and keep them safe and careful.”

Safety on the Daily

From the day time to late at night, students are always subject to crime.  How are students keeping safe on campus?


The Julian A. Mcphee University Union, Cal Poly’s main gathering place during the day and a safe haven for a large majority of the students.


Christina Sharky, first year nutrition major, shares a meal with her big Hayley Seitz in University Union.  “I feel very safe here at Cal Poly, I walk alone a lot but still feel safe,” she said.


“However when walking at night, that’s a different story,” adds Seitz.  Haley Seitz, a third year biology major says if approached at night she would hold her key like a ‘shank’ as self defense.


This is an emergency blue pole that can be used to contact the authorities.  There are several of these located around campus.  Here is where each of them is located on campus.  “I don’t feel like they [blue poles] do anything, but I still feel safer that they are here,” Sharky says.


Safer is an organization on campus dedicated to helping students with issues affecting their safety on campus.  These issues ranging from sexual violence to stalking.  Students can come here for guidance and support.


The Gender and Equality center is located adjacent to the Safer offices and works collaboratively with them on many issues.  Cassie Pitkin, a counseling graduate student, checks emails and utilizes the center.


At night, safety becomes even more of a priority as crime typically occurs with darkness. Kristina Kaviani, the Safer Coordinator, is aware of this. “Student generally stay safe on campus by avoiding late classes or areas on campus that are dark or they do not feel safe around.” she said. “Follow your intuition.”


Emmy Muller, first year agricultural communications major, on her way to Yogurt Creations to hang out with friends.  “I feel safe for the most part, besides at night though.  I’m still sketched out by the pillowcase guy,” she said.


Muller carries a can of pepper spray on her wherever she goes.  She states that with it she feels more secure because she has a plan of action if anything were to occur.


University Police Department responds to a disturbance on campus.  The Patrol Division dispatches uniformed officers 24 hours, every day of the year.


UPD has an escort van service that picks up students at various parts of campus and takes them to their desired location during the later hours. Students wait for the van to come pick them up outside of Kennedy Library.


Nicole Vink, a fourth year kinesiology  major, has been using the escort service since her freshman year.  “It’s stupid to walk in the dark,” she said. “I started using it right when I was aware of it.”


Safety is a priority of the students at Cal Poly.  By utilizing the services provided here on campus, learning self-defense techniques, and adhering to common sense; crime can be avoided on campus.