Campus Safety

U San Francisco Adopts Online Sexual Assault Reporting Program

A California university is partnering with a non-profit organization to try out an online system specifically for use by victims of sexual assault and the campuses that need to support them. The University of San Francisco will be the first institution to work with Sexual Health Innovations, which has developed Callisto, a third-party Web-based sexual assault recording and reporting application. That test will begin in August 2015.

The Callisto initiative was first announced at the White House Data Jam on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault. The goals of the project are threefold: to provide a confidential reporting experience for college sexual assault survivors, to give schools better data about campus assault and to help identify repeat assailants.

According to the organization, just 13 percent of college forcible rape survivors report their rape to local law enforcement. Only 2 percent of incapacitated sexual assault survivors report. Some estimates suggest that nine out of 10 assaults are committed by repeat assailants; if they were stopped quickly, 60 percent of rapes could be prevented.

Callisto is actually an "information escrow" — a third-party program that stores information on behalf of somebody and only releases it on pre-agreed-upon conditions. The organization is working with security firm iSEC Partners to ensure that the data stored in the program remains secure.

"We know that sexual assaults are underreported on college campuses and believe that Callisto will be an important tool in helping us to combat this trend," said Peter Novak, vice provost of student life. "In addition to our other educational programs and services, we hope Callisto will allow us to serve students who might otherwise decide not to report. The data we will receive through Callisto will be invaluable in helping us to serve our students more effectively and comprehensively."

Schools that implement the software will be able to view reporting on the aggregate number of records stored in their system, aggregate number of unique sexual assault survivors and assailants, percentage of those records that have been "officially" reported and trends in assault and reporting over time. They'll also be able to view anonymous responses to questions such as, "Is there anything you think your school could have done to prevent this from happening?" If a student decides to report his or her assault to school administrators, those officials will be able to log on and view the data that the student has elected to share.

The all-female team at Sexual Health develops Web sites, apps and software to advance sexual health and wellbeing in multiple domains.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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