“Never doubt the power that a determined student body has over a university.”
Students have long been at the forefront of the movement to combat campus sexual assault. That remains as true today as it ever has. The Department of Education announced Friday that they had withdrawn the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, which clarified the obligations of universities to address sexual violence under Title IX.
The voices of survivors and students are critical to advocating for a world where survivors have access to the justice and healing that they deserve. At Callisto, we’ve been proud to stand alongside them and support their efforts.
At Stanford, the 18th Undergraduate Senate passed a resolution to adopt Callisto, This spurred joint conversations with the Graduate Student Council. In the year leading up to Stanford’s adoption of Callisto, Stanford’s student-run newspaper, The Stanford Daily, published nearly a dozen stories that referenced Callisto.
In April 2017, Stanford University became the eighth institution to adopt Callisto. We were excited to interview Shanta Katipamula, the chair of the Undergraduate Senate, who helped lead efforts for the adoption of Callisto.
Why did you decide to advocate for Callisto?
Most importantly, Callisto is informed by extensive survivor research, making it a truly survivor centric reporting mechanism, something that is missing from most current reporting options. In my research, I found Callisto to be a one-of-a-kind tool that placed the needs of survivors first while also providing data for universities that could help prevent assaults.
Why is this issue important to you?
Sexual violence is a deeply personal issue that has affected too many students across the country, including at Stanford University. I work towards a world where campus sexual assault is eradicated, but in the meantime we must also provide adequate resources for survivors who are sexually assaulted.
How do you feel that your institution has adopted it?
I’m incredibly pleased that Stanford has chosen to adopt a three year pilot of Callisto, signaling Stanford’s commitment to supporting survivors of sexual violence. It’s a promising and reassuring sign that at least in this instance, the university has chosen to put survivors first.
What would you say to other student leaders who are interested in advocating for the adoption of Callisto?
Make it happen! Something that was incredibly useful as I worked with the university was to demonstrate a high level of student support for a pilot of Callisto. I was able to accomplish this show of support through a unanimous resolution passed through our Undergraduate Senate and Graduate Student Council, with co-sponsorship from the student body President, Vice-President and their cabinet.
There were also student survivors who spoke with administrators about the positive impact Callisto could have had in their reporting experiences had the tool been available to them.
Never doubt the power that a determined student body has over a university.