When we began this project, we started by researching for a story about safety on and off campus in San Luis Obispo. I reached out to multiple students, professors and community members. And on social media, I posted on Reddit, Facebook and Twitter. I felt I had the most luck on Facebook, where I could fine-tune my questions toward specific demographics by posting them in specific Facebook groups, like SLO Solidarity and the Cal Poly Parents page. On Twitter I felt I didn’t have a great reach because of my history of inactivity on my Twitter account. As for Reddit, I was a new user and posted in the Cal Poly subreddit. I fount the results posted by users to be largely sophomoric and I got minimal feedback.
What we found was that this topic was broad. It was hard to nail down one angle we wanted to take, we had too many sources to keep track of and it was a lot to include in one piece. Unfortunately on my part, because we decided to change our angle, most of the preliminary research became irrelevant.
But we met with our first source, the team behind Current Solutions. After a great interview, we decided that it was a better idea to focus the story completely on Current Solutions. In the end, I’m glad we changed the topic to present a more effective and focused story.
“When we first began this project, I wasn’t necessarily sure what direction we were taking, but as we began to interview our sources the story almost began to write itself.” – Alison Stauf
This was a student-founded Cal Poly group that aims to decrease sexual assault and violence against women. We decided we would talk to multiple members of the group, as well as those that may be affected by it. Alison Stauf said that our delay in focusing our story was frustrating at first, but then became easy once we talked with Current Solutions members.
“When we first began this project, I wasn’t necessarily sure what direction we were taking,” Stauf said. “But as we began to interview our sources the story almost began to write itself.”
Our next steps from here were delving deeper into Current Solutions. How do they work and where are they in their app development? We learned about how the team members met and that they were inspired to take action when they realized many of their female friends were scared to walk home at night. We met with cofounders Maxwell Fong and Elan Timmons who were shocked when they heard their friends’ stories.
“We actually started talking to our friends and we were like wait, ‘you’re scared when you walk home at night, what?” industrial technology senior Elan Timmons said.
“It was cool to see them in their own element, and see how many successful businesses can really start from a small office space above Ross.” – Monica Roos
We also interviewed other members of the team who helped work at the Hothouse as well as a Brand Ambassador for Current Solutions. The app works by alerting others who have the app that someone you know is in danger. Along with that, you can enable the app to turn on your flashlight and video camera to alert others of your location/record any evidence.
Monica Roos said she was impressed with the members work morale and progress.
“It was cool to see them in their own element, and see how many successful businesses can really start from a small office space above Ross.”
The next component of this story that was important to include was some background on sexual assault and safety in general. This was particularly important for Monica’s part in multimedia as she wanted to find a way to visualize some of the statistics. We reached out to UPD and SLOPD for any possible affiliation with Current Solutions, as the app features an ability to alert the police. SLOPD wasn’t particularly helpful in that regard and weren’t very involved with Current Solutions and UPD told us they wouldn’t be able to meet with us during the first or second week, which was unfortunate.
The Human Aspect
Our last piece of the puzzle was finding the human component to give this story an emotional connection. We reached out to Megan Knudsen, a student who reached out to Current Solutions to tell her sexual assault story.
This was particularly eye-opening for us because of how brave Megan had to be to come to Current Solutions with her story. Savannah Sperry said she was inspired by Megan’s story.
“I was impressed with the maturity she had and how she spoke about her story,” Sperry said. “She was very friendly and open to answering any questions, even if they were difficult to discuss.”
With this information, we were able to tell the story of Current Solutions and those who have become involved with it. Doing this story was a new experience and exciting to see how a student group followed a cause and succeeded in taking action.