Here4U app offering sexual assault resources launches for Temple students

Student Activists Against Sexual Assault President Ray Epstein launched the app on June 10 after two semesters of partnership with Maggie Slater and other Here4U app coordinators.

Temple is the third school that is compatible with the Here4U app, joining Arizona State and the University of Southern California. | CHARITY FOSTER / COURTESY

UPDATED: This article was updated on 6/30 at 9:43 p.m.

Far too many college students have become familiar with sexual assault hotlines.

Temple’s 2023 annual fire and safety report declared 22 rapes and 34 instances of fondling, both on and off campus, between 2020-22. For many, the stress of reporting their assault can be overwhelming.

“It is intimidating, like calling a phone number,” said Rebekah Cho, a junior psychology major. “And just speaking to someone about that may be uncomfortable for people.”

Although hotlines are available, a team of field experts at Here4U, a sexual violence prevention platform, has created an app and website to advance and combine resources to make them user-friendly and accessible for student survivors.

Temple Student Government and SAASA President Ray Epstein launched the Here4U app in collaboration with Maggie Slater, a partner and founder of Here4U who reached out to Epstein hoping to expand the resources to Temple students.

A website and app version of the platform is currently offered for students at Arizona State University, the University of Southern California and now Temple.  Students can select their university on the website to see resources like counseling and support for their healing process near their campus.

The website was designed with the intention of accessibility and accommodation for students struggling to feel supported after a sexual assault. Three main sections are featured on their front page: get informed, talk to someone and feel supported. Each section contains multiple pathways for users to personalize resources to support their needs.

“It was really important to me that people be able to access every piece of information but in a way that’s not overwhelming and not going to activate them,” Epstein said. “And it is so calming, like putting your feet on the ground and being aware of where you are, taking a deep breath before we move to the next page.”

When developing Here4U, Slater recognized common issues with other hotlines and set out to devise a more accessible resource and an online safe space that could be utilized at any time for those struggling with their sexual assault. One of her top priorities was designing the app with personalized care in mind.

“Sometimes folks would reach out to phone numbers that would they end up getting redirected or the phone number was no longer in service,” Slater said. “And so when we looked at the stats — about 63% of survivors not wanting to report — we knew that that was one of the reasons.”

By formatting the website in a way that offers written resources, students are not required to call anyone or submit any information they are uncomfortable with.

In designing the app with student needs in mind, Slater recruited Epstein as a student who can develop resources from first-hand experience at Temple. Epstein aims to implement Here4U as a verified Temple resource and hopes students can benefit from all it has to offer, she said.

“When you’re looking for some resource or you’re even looking for where a service is, there are like eight different web pages you have to navigate to try to find the one thing you’re looking for,” Epstein said. “You don’t even know how many websites you are gonna have to visit. And so having it all in one place is so important. It’s just making sure people know it exists.”

Slater is currently seeking corporate partners involved with social justice initiatives to help expand Here4U. Temple implementing the app as an affirmed resource is proving to be a more difficult task than they anticipated — a trend Slater has noticed in her work at different universities.

“Colleges felt like if they put money behind this tool, that it would make them seem like they were admitting a problem and they were not willing to do that,” Slater said.

Most students are no strangers to the fact that sexual assault is a tangible source of distress on campus. Cho hopes that Temple utilizing the app as a substantiated resource will lead to higher reports from survivors and will hold perpetrators accountable.

“[Temple administration] don’t really regulate [greek life] a lot,” Cho said. “And even though there is a lot of hazing and sexual assault will go on in fraternities and sororities, they won’t do anything about it because they don’t think there’s a problem.”

CORRECTION: A previous verison of this article referred to Maggie Slater by the wrong name. The story has been updated to reflect the correct information.

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