Campus News

UW-Madison considers new, inclusive sexual assault reporting technology

Through Callisto survivors of sexual assault can report their experiences online at any time, as well as request that their report not be sent to administrators unless another survivor reports the same perpetrator. 

Image By: Jacob Schellpfeffer

Students looking to report sexual assault to the university may soon have another option: an online software advocates says will serve as an accessible, inclusive way of connecting survivors with the resources on campus.

Through the implementation of Callisto, an online platform, UW-Madison students who experience sexual assault would be able to document their experience and report it to the university’s Title IX coordinator, if and when they feel it necessary.

The university currently offers a series of options for sexual assault survivors to discuss their experiences, whether it is through the Title IX coordinator, the Madison Police Department or confidential resources such as University Health Services’ Survivor Services.

Through Callisto, survivors can report their experiences at any time because it is not contingent on university offices being open. Currently the university offers a seperate online reporting process available outside of business hours.

“Callisto works within the existing structure of a reporting system. It just makes it more efficient and it makes the experience more accessible and empowering for survivors,” said Petra Dai, a student working with administration in an effort to implement Callisto.

Callisto also has a “matching” system which can identify if more than one student reports the same assailant.

“Because 90 percent of perpetrators of assault are repeat perpetrators, this unique platform gives students the ability to send their report only if another student reports the same assailant,” Dai said. “Many survivors feel an obligation and/or sense of community with other survivors, and this allows them to, if they feel right doing so, support their community and themselves.”

Callisto has been implemented in 13 institutions across the country, such as the University of Denver and Stanford University, according to Dai.

According to Callisto’s 2016-2017 report, survivors who visited the platform were five times more likely to report their experience than those who did not.

Moreover, the survey reports that 97 percent of sexual assault survivors who visited Callisto would recommend it to a friend who was sexually assaulted.

The university is currently deciding whether or not to implement Callisto on campus, and the administration is reaching out to experts to determine the implications of the new system.

“UW–Madison has been evaluating the product and seeking feedback from students, survivors of sexual violence and campus staff who work in areas such as Title IX enforcement and student misconduct,” said UW-Madison Spokesperson Meredith McGlone.

UW-Madison administration is meeting and will make a decision on whether or not to adopt Callisto within the next few weeks, according to Dai.

“Regardless of how they report, or if they choose to report at all, all survivors receive information about support services, protective measures and accommodations that the university can provide. These include changes in academic, living, transportation and working situations,” said McGlone.

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