University of Wisconsin administration recently denied the fully-funded implementation of Callisto software for sexual assault survivors on campus, prompting discourse from student Title IX committee representatives.
According to Callisto’s website, the software gives students the resources to create their own time-stamped records of an assault, can report an incident to UW if the perpetrator matches another incident in Callisto’s system and gives students the option to report an incident directly to campus administrators.
The Student Title IX Advisory Committee at UW issued a press release demanding the university explain their decision after learning about the denial. The group also said they feel the university missed an opportunity to streamline reporting processes.
“Our campus needs to change not only how we talk about consent and assault, but also how we process and support survivors of violence,” a STIXAC spokesperson said to The Badger Herald in a Facebook message. “A piece of this is utilizing existing programs which are proven to be effective. There is no excuse for an institution like UW-Madison, which as a research institution directly benefits from student researchers, teachers, and voices, to not do what is in its power to support survivors.”
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In an email to The Badger Herald, UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone said while the university appreciates the donor’s generosity, the Callisto software did not appropriately fit the needs of UW. The university did conduct a review of the software led by students, faculty and staff.
UW wants those in the campus community impacted by sexual assault and harassment to have information and resources available before they submit a report because the process can be lengthy and confusing, McGlone said. Additionally, survivors can currently submit their report electronically if they wish.
“Particularly in a critical area such as sexual assault and misconduct, a product should be chosen not based on a funder’s preference but because it best meets the needs of our campus,” McGlone said.
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Many survivors also do not wish to report their incident but rather just have resources available to them, McGlone said. The use of Callisto would direct users to submit a detailed report.
The university also took concern with the fact that Callisto is a private, third-party product which would not be the best way to convey resources and support to survivors, McGlone said.
“We are committed to continuing to assess and enhance our reporting and support options for survivors,” McGlone said. “Our goal is for every survivor to have the information and resources they need to make the decisions that are best for them.”