Widespread use of Callisto Vault could cut campus sexual assault rates in half

Student Activists Against Sexual Assault’s president explains the extraordinary capacity of Callisto’s technology to reduce campus sexual violence rates by more than 50 percent.

Content Warning: This letter contains mention of rape and sexual assault. If you find the content disturbing, please seek help at Tuttleman Counseling Services or click here to find resources regarding rape, sexual assault and sexual violence.

As of this summer, Student Activists Against Sexual Assault, Temple’s anti-sexual violence student organization, started collaborating with Callisto Vault to provide Temple students access to an encrypted survivor matching system and survivor story log.

One in 5 college women, 1 in 13 college men and 1 in 4 trans or gender nonconforming students will be sexually assaulted in their time on a college campus according to a 2022 research report by It’s On Us, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending campus sexual violence. Less than 10 percent of college survivors report their assault to their university or law enforcement, and for every 1,000 rapes, 995 perpetrators will go unpunished.

These abysmal numbers may leave individuals wondering if there is a feasible flicker of resolution in sight. Now, in 2023, we could potentially stop these perpetrators at two victims, instead of six. Now, with Callisto Vault, an encrypted technological triumph, there is potential to stop serial perpetrators in their tracks and reduce campus sexual violence rates by up to 59 percent.

Callisto uses privacy-enhancing technology, a powerful form of encryption, to ensure the protection of user data. The vault consists of two tools: the Matching System and the Incident Log. Temple should promote the widespread use of Callisto’s tools to students to maximize the impact of each resource. 

The Matching System allows any survivor with a .edu email address to privately input distinct identifiers of their perpetrator like their Twitter or Instagram handle, phone number or email address. 

If another survivor enters any overlapping identifier into the system, a match is triggered, but no further information is unveiled beyond the existence of a match. Once a match is made, each survivor is linked with a legal options counselor who will coordinate consent between both parties before connecting the survivors and revealing their identities to one another.

The Incident Log gives a survivor the opportunity to record their evidence in a timestamped system while they contemplate potential pathways for moving forward. This tool uses a trauma-informed method to aid survivors in recording the details of their assault. They can upload photographic evidence to a virtual vault and answer a self-reflection questionnaire that validates the experience.

Our society has reserved blame and disbelief for those who bravely share their own victimization. We’ve observed Hollywood moguls, like Harvey Weinstein, abuse their power time and time again. We now know it can take a village of victims to prove just one instance of violence in the discrediting public eye.

Clinical psychologist David Lisak published inaugural research in October 2013, which found that more than 90 percent of sexual assaults on college campuses are being perpetrated by serial offenders. In fact, repeat offenders are committing an average of six rapes each before facing any form of disciplinary measures. 

Renowned law professor Catherine A. MacKinnon kept track of campus sexual abuse complaints and highlighted her findings in a 2018 op-ed for the New York Times.

“It typically took three to four women testifying that they had been violated by the same man in the same way to even begin to make a dent in his denial,” MacKinnon said. “That made a woman, for credibility purposes, one-fourth of a person.”

A survivor’s chance of a successful outcome in a Title IX, criminal or civil case drastically increases in tandem with the testimony of another victim. Establishing a pattern of harmful behavior can completely transform the outcome in cases like these. 

The need for multiple victims to succeed in a sexual assault or harassment complaint speaks volumes about our society’s systemic need to protect perpetrators and deny victimhood. However, it is a fact that there is an extraordinary amount of power in numbers.

SAASA implores Temple’s administration and student body alike to promote the use of Callisto to all students through word of mouth, social media, websites and syllabi. If our community comes together to inform every student about Callisto and its benefits, we could reduce sexual violence rates on our campus to revolutionary lows.

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