Flyy App Continues Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign at USF

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Brian Healy
Staff Writer

Just like Twitter has 140 characters and Facebook has “What’s on your mind?” Flyy also has its own distinct feature. A post, and any reply to said post, must be done through a voice recording that has allowed users to beatbox, share horrible first date stories, and even talk about sexual assault.

Flyy was created by Stanford University senior Jared Wolens, who last year started a campaign against sexual assault called 100 Voices Strong. The campaign, which was organized by the Flyy App staff, uses audio recordings of students who have opinions, concerns, and even first hand experiences with sexual assault to raise awareness of the subject. Wolens specifically hopes the campaign motivates others to voice their personal views and experiences with sexual assault, so that the stigma of avoiding the topic gets eliminated.

Serena Pham, one of the campaign’s organizers and a senior at USF, said students across more than 100 universities in the United States (including USF) made recordings on the application for the campaign, which took place on October 23. Wolens knew that people would be reluctant to participate out of fear of having their voices recognized, so he made sure the application provides the user with a way to change the pitch of their voice before posting or replying.

In an interview with Yale University’s student newspaper, Yale Daily News, Pham spoke about the benefits of Flyy’s ability to create anonymity, and how it fosters a collaborative community that otherwise would not be possible on other popular social media platforms.   “[Flyy allows you] to talk about feelings and opinions you might not even want to talk to your friends about,” Pham said. “It gives more of an anonymous and personable feel because you can change your voice if you need to.”

Pham did, however, acknowledge that the campaign is limited in how many people they can reach, when prompted about “Flyy’s relative obscurity in comparison to other social media platforms.”

USF’s Clery Report, which discloses information about crime on and near college campuses and is monitored by the Department of Education, found ten instances in which a student was charged with a forcible sex offense in the past three years. Specific classifications under the definition of a forcible sex offense include: forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling.

With seven of the ten incidents taking place in on-campus dorms, USF has made it a goal to train incoming freshmen, who are required to live in dorms, on the safe practices of intimate relationships. Using USF’s comprehensive program, Think About It, on-campus students learn to minimize the risks associated with alcohol, drugs, and sexual assault by completing the mandatory online course.

Still, it is very likely that more forcible sex offenses have taken place at USF but have gone unreported. Because victims of sexual assault are frequently conflicted about coming forward with their experience, USF is making sure to provide plenty of methods to report such incidents.

At USF, students can report an incident of sexual assault directly to the University Title IX Coordinator, Anna Bartowski, by filling out a document online, by calling the sexual assault reporting hotline, or by filing a report in person with campus police, resident advisers, or at the Division of Student Life dean of students office.

Most recently, USF became the first university in the country to implement a new online system for reporting college sexual assault; an approach designed to encourage students who are hesitant to come forward in person. Callisto, a new online reporting system, offers an additional method for reporting sexual assault on campus and is meant to break down barriers victims may encounter, like not knowing how to label their experience or not feeling ready to talk about it. While one in five women are sexually assaulted in college, less than ten percent of victims report the crime to their college or the police, according to Callisto’s website. Men can also report incidents of sexual assault to Callisto, as well as any of the other reporting options USF provides.

Pham said that the solution to creating a nationwide dialogue about sexual assault, is to regularly talk about it within our city, community, and group of friends. “We want everyone to come out and speak their truths,” Pham said. “We want to connect people that are going through the same struggles or trying to bring change to other people’s struggles and we want the world to hear about it. We want to empower people to voice themselves and connect through voice.”

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