How Mobile Apps Can Boost Title IX Education on Campus

Submitted by on Thu, 07/28/16

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The statistics are sobering.

One in five women is raped or sexually assaulted during college and as many as 90 percent of incidents go unreported, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

What’s more, 63.3% of men at one university who self-reported acts qualifying as rape or attempted rape, admitted to committing repeat rapes.

Several years ago, the Obama administration kicked off a national awareness campaign regarding schools’ responsibilities and victims’ rights pertaining to sexual violence. That effort included sending letters to colleges outlining their duties under Title IX – the federal civil rights law banning sexual discrimination, harassment and violence.

The letters noted that the sexual harassment of students, including sexual violence, interferes with the right to receive an education free from discrimination and is a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX.

Since then, colleges and universities have taken various approaches to complying with the training and education requirements Title IX mandates, and in the process have spent millions.

Colleges and universities across the nation have hired Title IX-specific employees, lawyers, investigators, case workers, survivor advocates, peer counselors, workshop leaders and other officials to deal with the ever increasing numbers of complaints, according to a 2016 New York Times article.

The key take-away from the previous sentence however, is “increasing numbers of complaints.” Because for all the effort, the problem remains as present on school campuses as ever.

The federal government recently issued a series of policy directives regarding sexual misconduct on campus. And more than 200 colleges and universities are under federal investigation for their handling of complaints of sexual misconduct, (an increase from 55 two years ago), according to that New York Times article.

Now there is a new movement afoot when it comes to complying with Title IX.

Enter modern technology.

Mobile apps are increasingly being discussed as yet another way to reach technology savvy, smartphone obsessed students in order to educate them about Title IX.

While it’s a development still in its infancy, a few schools are already beginning to investigate or implement such an approach. The apps are not being designed to replace the prevention programs, lectures, or presentations that are already in place on many college campuses, but rather to reinforce them.

Using Mobile Apps to Support Title IX
One of the most widely publicized mobile app offerings designed specifically with Title IX in mind, is known as U of Nine.

Launched in 2015, the app is the result of a collaboration between The Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA) and the education quiz-based training app company, Trivie.

Billed as a way to approach the problem of campus sexual misconduct from a fresh, potent and technologically savvy perspective, the app engages students on the topic via their mobile devices using gamified, quiz-based content to educate users.

The goal of the user-friendly, social game is to educate, train and empower those who download it.

And in the world of Millennials and Gen Z, which is an environment of short attention spans and constant technology use, such apps and micro learning methods may be among the most effective way for colleges and universities to reach students with important information, in real time.

U of Nine also allows university administrators to track usage via the app, stay connected with students and help mitigate Title IX claims.

At this point, U of Nine remains among a handful of trailblazers when it comes to creating apps designed specifically with Title IX in mind. Still other schools are considering launching specifically tailored apps. Yale for instance is contemplating the creation of an app that would allow for anonymous reporting of sexual misconduct and other forms of discrimination and harassment. The school, which already has a Title IX coordinator and a Title IX student advisory board, reports feeling compelled to do more in light of disturbing statistics showing that many incidents of sexual harassment remain unreported.

It’s important to note that this type of information can also easily be integrated into any university or college’s existing app.

Many schools have begun doing just that– integrating everything from resources related to mental health, sexual harassment, and links to the phone numbers and contact information of key campus resources, such as public safety and campus Title IX officials.

La Salle University recently launched a new campus mobile app that includes a module called “#knowmore” which is dedicated to Title IX information and resources. #knowmore includes emergency phone numbers, support resources, and phone numbers for the campus Title IX coordinators.

A Movement Still in its Early Phases
A handful of recent media reports describe campus sexual assault as a national epidemic, while also noting that there’s plenty of opportunity to achieve real progress in making campuses safer for everyone.

Still among all of the recent coverage, there’s only minimal discussion of how technology might be part of this effort.

Yet, the students of today, Millennials and Gen Z, are more connected to technology then ever. Trivie recognized this fact and says it designed U of Nine to fill the gap between a school’s other awareness and education efforts and the smartphone-obsessed world where so many students can be found.

As ATIXA Executive Director Brett Sokolow said in the media coverage surrounding the launch of U of Nine: “It’s called boosting…boosting the message of other prevention efforts to last longer and be more effective.”

And anything that can be done to raise awareness, is a good thing.

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