Callisto — a third-party college sexual assault recording and reporting system designed to support and empower survivors and improve reporting experiences — may be implemented at all three University of Washington campuses: Seattle, Tacoma and Bothell by this upcoming fall quarter.
Originally launched in 2015 as part of a Sexual Health Innovations project created by Callisto’s CEO Jess Ladd, the program officially became Callisto Campus in the summer of 2016 after a pilot run at the University of San Francisco and Pomona College. Since then, Callisto Campus has been implemented at 13 different partner institutions.
The Callisto Campus system is designed to find repeat offenders and offers victims three different reporting options which are write, match and report. The writing option allows student survivors of sexual assault to create time-stamped records of what happened to them in a confidential way, and report to their college or university when they feel ready to take action. No one else — including members of the Callisto team — is able to view these records unless the survivor gives them explicit consent.
“Information that is documented closer to the event is often more reliable when an investigation does occur,” Valery Richardson, UW Title IX coordinator, said. “Students don’t have to submit [their report], but if they do submit it, the fact that they did did write it down closer to when the event happened could be really helpful.”
Callisto’s second and unique option is its matching feature. Survivors of an assault can insert the name of their perpetrator into Callisto under the condition that someone else may have mentioned the same person as having hurt them in a completely separate report. If a match is found, the university will be notified and the Title IX coordinator will reach out to each victim individually and let them know about the match. Survivors are then asked if either would be interested in submitting a report or pursuing an investigation.
“We find that a lot of times when someone realizes that a potential predator might be harming more than one person, they’re more inclined to come forward,” Richardson said.
Individuals also have the option to submit a report through Callisto. Survivors can send a record they have created directly to their institution to start an investigation or consultation. According to Callisto’s website, reports submitted through Callisto lead to more rapid and thorough investigations and reduce the chance of human error. Survivors who visit their school’s Callisto Campus website are six times more likely to report their assault than survivors who do not.
Richardson worked with a former student regent to assess Callisto and also held a demonstration of Callisto’s services as part of that assessment. She hopes that Callisto will be purchased and implemented by the fall of 2019 and believes that Callisto is one tool among many that can be used to help prevent sexual assault and harassment.
“It could be one more tool,” she said. “[But] we wouldn’t want it to replace anything that we already do and we still would want to have our SafeCampus phone and email lines available to people, we still want to have confidential advocates available. If there is going to be an investigation, we still have to have time to investigate, meet with people and evaluate evidence and do an investigation.”