Cal Poly Opens Research Center to Address Student Deaths on College Campuses

Cal Poly has launched a new research and resource center dedicated to preventing harm and lives lost to hazing, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual assault, hate and bias, and other forms of violence on college campuses.

WITHUS - Center for Bystander Intervention was established by Cal Poly to inspire peer-led movements of accountability that promote health and safety, prevent violence and empower proactive intervention to help others.

Based on Cal Poly’s campus in San Luis Obispo, California, the organization is led by a team of experienced researchers and student affairs practitioners who are developing a national network of education and prevention partners to create safer campus communities. The center will support students and educators in prevention efforts by developing and sharing bystander intervention research, resources and education.

WITH US grew out of Aware Awake Alive, a nonprofit organization aimed at preventing alcohol poisoning. WITH US has broadened the mission to include other critical campus-based social issues such as hazing, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual assault, hate and bias, and other forms of violence. 

Aware Awake Alive was founded by Scott and Julia Starkey after their son, Carson, died of alcohol poisoning in 2008 during his freshman year at Cal Poly. 

The organization’s messages and programs were widely adopted throughout the California State University system and on high school and university campuses nationwide.

“Over the past nine years, as we gained experience through our hands-on work with Aware Awake Alive, it became evident to us how the misuse of alcohol was commonly involved in many other issues,” said Scott and Julia Starkey. “We saw all these issues closely tied to the Aware Awake Alive mission and wanted a way to reach more people and save more lives from tragedy.”
Keith Humphrey, Cal Poly’s vice president for student affairs, said, “Aware Awake Alive’s peer-led approach to intervention was the inspiration for creating With Us. We see many incidents that could have been prevented had a student been equipped with the tools and confidence to intervene. We want to bring together the best minds and research in bystander intervention that will put an end to high-risk substance misuse and all forms of campus-based violence.”

With Us is building its national network of education and prevention partners who are interested in joining these areas:

Research: lead and share new innovative research and program evaluations.
Resources: develop and share evidence-based bystander intervention strategies, tools and resources to support campus prevention efforts.
Education: provide training and education for students and educators to shift attitudes, develop skills and improve bystander behaviors.
“Cal Poly has seen significant success in its peer-to-peer bystander intervention approach. With Us provides us new opportunities to engage others beyond our campus in support of students around the country,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong.

WITH US - Center for Bystander Intervention is a university-based nonprofit research and resource center dedicated to preventing harm and lives lost to hazing, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual assault, hate and bias, and other forms of violence on college campuses. WITH US works alongside its national network of students and student groups, parents, universities, prevention partners, and other social change organizations unified to create safer campus communities. For more information, visit the WITH US website at

About Cal Poly

Founded in 1901 and part of the renowned California State University system since 1960, Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, four-year, comprehensive polytechnic public university located in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Known for its Learn by Doing approach, small class sizes and open access to expert faculty, Cal Poly is a distinctive learning community whose 20,000 academically motivated students enjoy an unrivaled hands-on educational experience that prepares them to lead successful personal and professional lives. Visit

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Contact: Yukie Murphy


Posted on:
February 1, 2018

Written by:
Cal Poly News - University News & Information / Feb. 1, 2018

Ready to Join the Network?

Join us in making a difference in students' lives today by joining the WITH US Center for Bystander Intervention.