Cal Poly ‘WITH US’ Research Center Launches Inaugural Upstander Week Campaign

SAN LUIS OBISPO –– WITH US—the Center for Bystander Intervention at Cal Poly today launched its inaugural Upstander Week campaign, a weeklong conversation with college communities to share knowledge and encourage action during dangerous, life-altering events.

The educational campaign aims to empower college students nationwide to become “upstanders,” or individuals with the knowledge and willingness to intervene in situations in which sexual assault, hazing, hate, bias, or alcohol and drug misuse threaten their safety and that of those around them. The campaign will conclude Sunday, Dec. 2, the 10-year anniversary of Cal Poly student Carson Starkey’s hazing death.  

The campaign will include a forthcoming open letter by Carson’s parents, Julia and Scott Starkey, sharing their gratitude and hope of the past 10 years. The following is an excerpt of the letter, which will be published Dec. 2 at

“It’s hard to express what’s transpired in the past decade since we lost Carson. We hesitate to say that it happened for a reason, but maybe the inverse is true: that his death created reason – reason to examine the circumstances and similarities, reason to connect with others, and reason to be a part of connecting the dots.”

Added Keith Humphrey, executive director of WITH US and Cal Poly vice president for student affairs: “Upstander Week is about giving students the courage to step up in dangerous situations to prevent harm. It’s not uncommon to see or hear about situations where someone didn’t speak up or step in to prevent the loss of life or serious harm. This campaign seeks to remove those barriers and encourage students to always do the right thing.”

As part of its campaign, WITH US is encouraging college students nationwide to join this important conversation in the following ways:

-Take the Upstander Pledge and set the example for those around you.

-Participate in the Upstander Challenges – Follow WITH US on Facebook to participate in the campaign’s daily lessons and challenges for aspiring upstanders.

-Join the 10x Giving Challenge – Help create safer campus communities by making a gift to support lifesaving bystander intervention programs and awareness campaigns.

-Share the Movement and use the #BeTheLifeline hashtag for posts on Instagram and Facebook to keep the conversation going in your community.

“We’re excited to honor Carson’s memory with this campaign,” said Michael Eberhard, program coordinator for WITH US. “We invite students on every campus to join us online and challenge them to have in-person dialogue with their peers. We believe in empowering peer-led movements and encourage all student organizations to lead and elevate these important issues within their campus communities.”  

For more information about Upstander Week, visit and follow WITH US on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to participate in daily campaign challenges.

Founded in 2011, Aware Awake Alive was donated to Cal Poly by Scott and Julia Starkey in 2017 to broaden its mission and evolve into a university-based research center. WITH US – Center for Bystander Intervention is a bystander intervention research center launched in February 2018 with the mission to prevent harm and lives lost to hazing, alcohol and drug misuse, sexual assault, hate and bias, and other barriers to student health, safety, and success. WITH US is housed within the Cal Poly Student Affairs and is led by a team of experienced researchers, prevention practitioners, and student affairs leaders. Learn more at


Contact: Diego Abeloos

Posted on:
November 26, 2018

Written by:
Diego Abeloos

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