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UC Considers Mobile App for Sexual Assault Response

The Undergraduate Council discussed the possibility of introducing a mobile application that would allow students to more easily report incidents of sexual assault on campus.

During Sunday’s general meeting, Finance Committee Chair William A. Greenlaw ’17 introduced Callisto, an app that allows students to electronically and anonymously report instances of sexual assault. If more than one student reports the same perpetrator, then the information is automatically submitted to the university’s Title IX coordinator.

Grants From Greenlaw
William A. Greenlaw.

Pomona College and the University of San Francisco were among the first schools to test the program. More recently, delegates at last week’s Ivy Policy Conference at the University of Pennsylvania discussed the app and policy solutions to campus issues including sexual assault.

Greenlaw suggested that the app may encourage more students to report sexual assaults.

“For a traumatic event, I likely won’t want to talk to a person, especially if it’s embarrassing or I feel like I wouldn’t be believed,” Greenlaw said. “The anonymity lowers the bar to report.”

Undergraduates can currently seek confidential counseling for sexual assault at the University’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, Counseling and Mental Health Services, and Response Peer Counseling.

While several representatives voiced support for the app, some questioned its effectiveness. Crimson Yard representative Nicholas Whittaker ’19 suggested that the UC should prioritize sexual assault prevention over another response system.

“There are already phone hotlines,” Whittaker said. “Is focusing on the app… the best way to focus our efforts?”

Greenlaw said he hoped the UC’s Digital Commission, established earlier this semester to work on technology-related Council initiatives, could work to integrate Callisto’s functionality into Omni, an app that provides contact information for various campus resources, including Harvard University Police Department and OSAPR.

“This enables us to crack down on these repeat offenders,” Greenlaw said.

During the meeting, Greenlaw also announced that the Finance Committee will move away from the Common Grant Application, the system by which student organizations currently request funding from the UC. Greenlaw said the current application makes it more difficult for the UC to enforce policies including this semester’s sexual assault prevention training requirement. The UC will likely create Council-specific online form, Greenlaw said.

The Council also voted to allocate $22,333 in grants to student organizations, and voted to designate April 29 as the “2nd Annual HUPD/Securitas Appreciation Day.” As part of the initiative, the UC allocated $200 to fund supplies for food and thank you cards for HUPD and Securitas staff.

Updating the Council, Freshman Class Committee Chair Eduardo A. Gonzalez ’18 said his committee attempted to fund a second berry brain break, but that a recent increase in the price of berries made the proposal “infeasible.”

The Student Initiatives Committee’s “Project H,” a $2,500 program designed to help students plan “open, inclusive social initiatives,” will hold its open party on Friday.

—Staff writer Brian P. Yu can be reached at brian.yu@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @brianyu28.

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