Cal Poly student’s senior project documents school’s ‘rape climate’

April 9, 2019

Amelia Meyerhoff

A Cal Poly student and alleged rape victim has released a report containing interviews with 61 alleged victims of sexual assaults who are either current Cal Poly students or graduates of the university. [Cal Coast Times]

Amelia Meyerhoff compiled the report, titled “The Clapback,” as a senior project. Meyerhoff describes her report as an investigation into “the sexual assault and rape climate” at Cal Poly.

Between Sept. 2018 and March 2019, Meyerhoff conducted interviews with 45 Cal Poly students and 16 alumni who provided accounts of their sexual assaults. The majority of the survivors interviewed were sexually assaulted and/or raped during their time at Cal Poly, while some of the participants experienced sexual trauma prior to arriving at the university, according to the report.

Two “male identifying survivors” participated in the study, while all of the other alleged victims identify as women.

Of the current Cal Poly students interviewed, 87 percent said their perpetrators never faced consequences. All of the alumni who gave interviews said their perpetrators never faced consequences.

Nearly 30 percent of the participants in the study said they were sexually assaulted by a fraternity member.

Just 18 percent of the alleged victims who gave interviews reported their cases to Cal Poly’s Title IX office. Most of the cases that were reported to Title IX were ultimately invalidated, according to the report.

Meyerhoff’s findings allege Cal Poly, and specifically its Title IX office, worsened the trauma for most of the victims.

The majority of the alleged victims did not label their incidents as sexual assault or rape right away, according to the report. Numerous cases involved alcohol and/or drug use, according to the interviews.

In describing her own case, Meyerhoff said she was raped during her second year at Cal Poly by a Cuesta College student with whom she had a casual relationship for three months prior to the assault. Meyerhoff stated that, on a night in which they were both intoxicated, she came over to his apartment, and he forced her to have sex with her multiple times when she did not want it, injuring her in the process.

“Even though my perpetrator and I had a casual relationship for three months prior to the incident, I always should have the right to say no,” Meyerhoff stated in the report.

Meyerhoff said she refrained from reporting the rape because she likely would have obtained no justice since she was intoxicated that night and had no evidence.

“The project is called The Clapback because these 61 survivors’ voices are meant to be a slap in the face to those who have invalidated, blamed, ignored and silenced us,” Meyerhoff stated.

Meyerhoff alleges the Cal Poly administration is complicit in the invalidation of rape cases. Between 1995 and 2005, 23 red hand-prints were painted on sidewalks near locations on campus where sexual assaults occurred.

The administration painted over the hands in 2005 to minimize scrutiny of Cal Poly’s sexual assault and rape problem, the report states. Meyerhoff is using the red hand print as the symbol for her senior project.

“I am bringing back the red hand print to honor the 23 survivors’ stories that the administration invalidated,” she stated.


Calpoly knows exactly what they’re doing. calpoly measure’s its success on such matters by the number of people who have sued the university regarding harassment issues and won. Not too many, huh? Additionally, when stories like this get out, it discourages others from stepping forward. The fewer people reporting such crimes, the better calpoly looks. Everyone knows how lax calpoly is on punishing those who commit crimes and violate ethics; this report simply proves it. Calpoly is a sh*ithole: great students but corrupt and stupid admin.


As a “male identifying” alumnus of CalPoly I’m happy to hear when anything is being done to shed some light on or in general about sexual assault in the student population. In my personal experience practically every female (and yes, more than a few male) friend/student/peers I knew, appalling as it is, would admit to some form of sexual assault or inappropriate communication/contact during their collegiate years. Hopefully with the advent of affirmative consent — something I would have welcomed during my time in college and the “dating pool” because I can’t comprehend how the act takes place without it from both parties — and the “preponderance of the evidence” standard in adjudicating sexual assault helps with first the increased reporting and second the punishment of these life-altering crimes.

Mike Morgan

Report is the key to this whole thing. No evidence no crime. That’s how things work in America. No evidence no rape culture. Poor Armstrong. If I were Armstrong I would have resigned from Cal Poly years ago and put the mass hysteria of rape at Cal Poly perpetuated by our local media in my rear view mirror.


Mike Morgan, sounds like your formal written plea or confession. Thanks for the evidence

nazbol gang

“male identifying”… ummm… your chromosomes are either XY or XX, there’s no identifying about it. While I think rape is a very serious topic and allegation, something tells me her report requires additional rigour


This could probably be vitally important data if it weren’t contaminated with numbers that aren’t relevant like “some of the participants experienced sexual trauma prior to arriving at the university”. How can those numbers add anything to a report highlighting CP’s attitude toward sexual assault?

I hope the victims do begin to seek justice. I don’t see where holding tons of public forums, sign waving and sidewalk painting have any teeth to it but, that’s what college kids do. How about take a couple dozen documented examples to the D.A. and demand an outside forensic examination of Cal Poly Police’s lack of investigation into reports of felony sexual assault instead!


Id venture to say you missed the piece by Melissa Milano who we know is very vocal in this movement. Her comments surrounding Biden is that they are buddies, his tactics are misunderstood and she supports him 100%. To me this speaks volumes about a double standard in that numerous women have come forward telling of the discomfort Biden causes them, yet his fan club believes his wandering hands and eyes are acceptable. Kinda hypocritical isn’t it?


This is an issue that needs to be screamed from the mountain tops! The Sheriffs department has a horrible track record of not following through even when they have forensic evidence! Their treatment of victims needs to change.

I applaud Ms. Meyerhoff too. I would love to see this subject discussed in open forums, in every paper. Time to SHAME the perps and those who diminish this type of assault!


No woman should be assaulted, raped or even taken advantage of!!!

That being said, what can Police or Faculty do in many of these situations?

Drugs and alcohol involved, delayed reporting times, foggy memories he said, she said, what’s the cure?

Labeling Cal Poly as having a rape culture, is it more prevalent at Poly than other campuses?

I feel for the young woman that was assaulted, and commend her effort to shine a light on this.


I applaud Ms. Meyerhoff for taking on this topic as her senior project. It takes courage to speak up and speak out.