Saturday, May 30, 2015

Stockpiling Psycho: A Look At Callisto

Increasingly, it's obvious that Title IX means of combating sexual assault (and harassment) amount to a sort of jobs program for the otherwise unemployable, a point made most recently by Reason's Robby Soave in the context of Northwestern professor Laura Kipnis' tangle with that bureaucracy, something I wrote about earlier. The "man behind the curtain" is the huge army of mandarins needed to implement it:
The Title IX inquisition must be a cash-cow for the people tasked with handling such broad and outlandish claims. Northwestern flew a team of a lawyers out to meet with Kipnis; these men would have interviewed anyone she deemed relevant to her case. Their colleagues would have initiated retaliation investigations against anyone she accused (this calls to mind recent Game of Thrones episodes, in which characters levelling accusations against each other merely manage to get absolutely everyone, accusers and accused, confined to dungeon cells). Is it any wonder that tuition prices are skyrocketing so that universities can continue to pay all these Title IX lawyers, bureaucrats, and coordinators?
 Earlier this year, the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights asked for a 31% funding increase to deal with a huge and expected uptick in case load, of dubious (and likely self-serving) origins, amounting to an additional 200 attorneys and investigators. But such paycheck beneficiaries are by no means the end, something I discovered when I learned that the University of San Francisco is going to be the first school to use Callisto, an Orwellian system for stockpiling reports of sexual assault. Their description of the software's operation should give pause to anyone interested in justice — as opposite nursing retroactive vendettas:

1. Fill out an account of an incident online

Visit your school-specific Callisto website, record what happened in an online form, and get advice on what evidence to collect and save.

2. Save the report

Securely save the record, timestamped when it was stored, and decide later if you want to take any action.

3. Report now or later

Learn about your school-specific reporting options and directly submit your record to your chosen authority. Or you can opt into automatically reporting if someone else reports the same assailant.
The justifications for this stockpiling of timed-release "gotcha" charges we learn later:
Why survivors don’t report:
  • Not knowing how to label their experience
  • Considering their assault not “serious enough” to report
  • Not wanting to get the assailant into trouble, especially if the assailant is a significant other, friend, teammate, or a family member
  • Fearing retaliation from peers or the assilant for reporting
  • Feeling like the assault was partially his or her fault
  • Not knowing where or how to report
  • Feeling that they do not have sufficient evidence
  • Not wanting to go through the trauma of reliving the assault again, especially if they worry that they will not be believed 
Secret charges that can be unleashed at some future point (without investigation in the interim) sounds remarkably like an enabling tool for false accusers, in the same exact way that Ellen Pao warehoused her multitudinous grievances at Kleiner Perkins. And as with the expanding Title IX bureaucracy within the DoE, Callisto comes with an enormous board of directors, 25 by my count. That number includes Yale Law student Alexandra Broadsky, who penned a genuinely awful piece in Feministing about her totalitarian vision of "fair process" a while back. Callisto the software represents everything Title IX has become: parasitic, secretive, biased, expansionist for the bureaucracy it services, and paranoid. It is no surprise that Sexual Health Innovations, the misnamed 501(c)3 organization behind Callisto, spent 20% of their 2013 budget on lobbying; they have a lot of institutions to pitch yet.

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