MTSU featured on ‘Reach Out’ app for sexual assault victims

Photo by Steve Barnum / Staff Writer

Reach Out is a free app for iOS and Android by Captivation Inc. with the function of providing resources for those that have experienced sexual assault.

The app is the creation of four friends and partners: Racquel Giner, Jack Zandi, Billy Sadik-Khan and Zachary Csillag.

“Our main guiding principle is to empower students and put control back into the hands of a survivor of sexual assault,” Csillag told Sidelines.

It is estimated that for every 1,000 women attending a college or university, there are 35 incidents of rape each academic year with one out of every 10 rape victims being male.

“When my partners and I graduated from college, we all wanted to do something impactful. So, focusing on campus sexual assault made a lot of sense to us,” Csillag said. “We’re all passionate about every student’s right to a meaningful and enjoyable college experience, and, given that fact that we were recently graduated, we felt that we could provide a unique perspective into taking steps toward tackling the issue.”

Upon downloading the app, the user is given a prompt to choose their institution. MTSU is on the list of available colleges.

“We have roughly 2,400 two and four-year colleges/universities in the app. Users can simply download the app and enter in their school to be taken right to their school’s homepage,” Csillag said. “Our next update will also include high schools, prep schools and more. We hope to provide a flavor of the app for all at-risk populations.”

After selecting a school, it brings you to the main page of the app where you can find links to campus resources, medical care, reporting options and hotlines.

Included on the home page is a “start here” option. It provides step by step actions one could take in the case of sexual assault. With each step, a link is listed that provides the pertinent information to get an individual through each step of the reporting and recovery process.

The steps are as follows: Get to a safe place, preserve evidence, talk to an advocate, get medical attention, arrange interim measures, report the incident and heal.

Csillag stated, “It’s crucial that the information is easily accessible and digestible.”

All of the links lead to resources in the area of your college, such as local police departments, local hospitals, local advocates and local shelters.

Help with sexual assault is the main idea behind the application, but it also serves to help and provide information for those that struggle with domestic violence, issues like STIs, pregnancy and where to seek needed counseling.

“Our hope is that the Reach Out Network provides a welcoming environment for a student in crisis and will remove any hesitations a student maybe have about going off campus for support if they choose to do so,” said Csillag.

Csillag explained that Reach Out usually goes through the Title IX offices at different colleges to initially spread the word about the app, but they have not yet gotten a response from MTSU’s Title IX office as to whether or not Reach Out is something MTSU would like to promote.

“We have a FREE back-end web-based online console that can be managed by a campus administrator, in most cases the Title IX Coordinator, to edit and manage all of the app’s information. When there’s collaboration between the student body and campus administrators, we believe that’s when the app becomes most useful to the campus community,” said Csillag.

When asked how students can become involved in the application’s growth and development, Csillag expressed how student involvement is crucial. He explained how students who voice their opinions to campus administrators hold much more weight than what he would say in order to bring the application onto a certain campus.

He also feels that, in a perfect world, every student would have the Reach Out app on their phones to be able to have the emergency information and resources at their fingertips. However, he understands that some young people hold the belief that they could never be victims.

“We designed the app with that stigma in mind. So even if a student doesn’t have the app on their phone, they are still only a few clicks away from the information. The download takes less than 30 seconds. It’s free, and users are anonymous so there really aren’t any barriers to entry,” said Csillag.

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To contact News Editor Brinley Hineman, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com.

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