Campus Sexual Assault

New Technology Designed to Protect Students from Campus Sexual Assault

It has been almost three years since I hooked self-defense devices on my dorm room keys. I’ve yet to muster up the courage to even switch the girlish knife open, and the pepper spray is buried somewhere beneath the pens and ChapStick in the front pocket of my backpack. I’ve been in serious, uncomfortable situations, but using a weapon has never been my first (or second, or third…) instinct.

According to a report by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, yet rape is the most under-reported crime; 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police. Based on these statistics, there seems to be something lacking with our keychain pepper spray system– It’s time to start using advanced products that create a safe, secure college campus.  

Tech innovators and entrepreneurs like Yasmine Mustafa, co-founder and CEO of ROAR for Good, are tapping into that market. “We found that women don’t like the self-defense tools that are out there,” says Mustafa in an interview with FastCompany. “They’re too hard to use. They’re afraid they’ll use them against themselves. They don’t want to be in hand-to-hand combat in the first place.”

ROAR for Good offers Athena, a simple, coin-sized device that emits a loud alarm and sends the victim’s GPS location to friends and family during an emergency. The alarm is meant to deter the attacker, but Athena also has a SilentROAR™ option for victims who want to hide the alert from their attacker.

In light of recent media on the Stanford sexual assault case and countless other Title IX cases, it’s clear to many that there’s something missing from initiatives to help prevent and protect sexual assault victims. Wearable technology like ROAR for Good and Revolar strive to aid the victim in real time. But given that in 80 percent of rape cases, the victim knows the person who sexually assaulted them, it’s not as easy to press a button to solve the problem.

That’s where apps like Callisto come in. According to the Sexual Health Initiative website,

“Callisto is a third-party sexual assault reporting system designed to provide a more empowering, transparent, and confidential reporting experience for college sexual assault survivors, to give schools better data about campus assault, and to facilitate the identification of repeat assailants.”

Callisto encourages campus sexual assault victims to immediately save time-stamped records of the assault in the app, rather than wait the average period of 11 months to report the assault to authorities. The report is then immediately sent to the university’s Title IX coordinator, where it is matched with other cases (if the perpetrator matches other claims) and then proceeds into the legal sphere. The victim remains anonymous and does not have to fear and confusion when it comes to reporting their sexual assault during the whole Callisto process.

In a few weeks, college campuses will come alive again with the bright-eyed freshmen and jaded upperclassmen. New classes, old social circles, and fresh romances will ensue after Labor Day. Higher education institutes now have the opportunity to add something brand new to the roster– a potential solution to changing the statistic of female sexual assaults from 20 percent to zero percent.

Gretchen Kuhsel

Gretchen Kuhsel

Gretchen Kuhsel is a junior journalism student at Emerson College, where she is the assistant lifestyle editor at The Berkeley Beacon. Her work has also been published in various campus magazines and The Connecticut Post. When she’s not writing, she’s spending far too much time online shopping or balancing upside down on her yoga mat.