The fall semester of my senior year was expected to be pretty hectic with thesis rearing its ugly head* but after hearing about the Kenan Social Entrepreneurship class as a freshman I knew that this would be my last opportunity to take it. I spoke with my advisor and about half a dozen friends to see if this would be a good idea or not – I knew I wanted to take the class but had no idea if I had the mental stamina to do so. Everyone suggested I drop the class because I wouldn’t have time to write a business plan and a thesis (but thanks to IRB, it’s almost like I didn’t have a thesis at all!) but at the end of the day I figured that regardless of the stress, I would really gain a lot from this course and I knew I wouldn’t regret taking it. My plan was to stay on top of my work and meet weekly with at least one of the professors teaching it so that I wouldn’t fall behind. It was probably one of the first times I put so much effort into staying on top of my workload (sorry, Dr. Fewkes).
I went to the first class and after learning more about what social entrepreneurship was, I immediately began jotting down ideas. A socially driven business is one which tackles an unsatisfactory equilibrium which is then the backbone of your for- or non-profit business. We discussed examples like TOMs shoes, Chipotle, and Apple as possible examples of socially engaged organizations including what does and doesn’t work about their business models. Our partner organization when I took the class was the Palm Beach County Food Bank which meant that our projects were expected to tackle a food-related social injustice (food waste, food deserts, etc.). I, however, had something else in mind.
I went to my first meeting with my professors thinking I was going to somehow combine my then goal of opening a bakery with a focus on being a sexual assault victim’s advocate. My vision included a black, white and red themed bakery with cookies that had statistics written on them (how wildly appetizing?). This idea was nicely questioned but thank goodness it was. I went back to the drawing board and started thinking about an app. The idea was to make an app that was college campus based which would allow students who are victims of sexual assault to report the crime in-app. They could upload photos of sustained injuries, list any details they could remember, and receive information on the nearest places to receive a rape kit or the locations of local victim services. I was pretty stoked about the prospects of this app especially after personal and peer experiences with lack of support received when trying to report sexual misconduct. I wrote up my business proposal and got ready to turn it in the next day and then had the poorly timed thought of actually researching it to see if it already existed. Guess what? It does.
The app is called Project Callisto and is a part of the 501(c)3 Sexual Health Innovations. They are a non-profit organization focused on creating technology and software that will advance sexual health and well-being. Callisto is an app that was designed to increase not only the amount of reporting done on behalf of victims but the justice brought to assaulters. This app was
all I could dream of and more and luckily for me, it already existed. I reached out to their founders and learned the Project Callisto was brand new and only a beta test of the app was available on two college campuses out in California where the company is based. However, they were looking to add 10-15 more colleges to their roster for the 2016-2017 academic year. Their app allows students to create school-specific incident reports and time-stamp records so that they can report when they feel comfortable. When you hear stories about Brock Turner (who needs no introduction) or Cherelle Jovanna Locklear who committed suicide after her school elected not to take direct action against her rapist, you cannot help but feel for the victims and their families and hope that there was something that existed to make it so that students felt safe on their campus. Project Callisto does just that which is why I immediately took it to FAU’s Title IX Coordinator in the hopes that we could bring this app to the FAU campuses.
As I am writing this, it has now been five months since I last met with Katrina, the FAU Title IX Coordinator. She keeps me up-to-date on where FAU is headed with regards to this app and the likelihood of FAU implementing Project Callisto on its campuses. What I know thus far is that FAU has found a few more apps similar to Project Callisto and has plans to implement one or its own internal app for the students to use. FAU is also creating a protocol list that will train professors and staff members who to report to (and how) if a student lets them know of a sexual misconduct issue on campus so that justice is served in a timely manner and the victim can feel safe on campus.
To learn more about Project Callisto, check out their website here
. If you have questions or comments regarding sexual assault reporting on your campus, feel free to contact your campus’s Title IX Coordinator. For FAU, contact Katrina Oliver.
*Note that while I thoroughly enjoyed writing my thesis that did not make it any less daunting.