Harvard: The First-Ever Hackathon to Reduce Sexual Assault

Last September, the Association of American Universities released the findings from its Campus Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct.

The results, which pertained to the 27 universities across the country involved in the survey, revealed that 26 percent of Harvard’s undergraduate women reported having experienced sexual assault.

Flash forward to today: A startup on the Crimson campus is hosting a university-wide hackathon to decrease sexual assault at the institution. Confi, a venture focused on making information about women’s health readily available, has partnered with Harvard College, HBS and CVS Health for the April 10 event. And according to Confi’s founder Tess Brooks, the unprecedented hackathon is expected to engage hundreds of students, allowing them to come up with actionable solutions to reduce the prevalence of sexual assault at Harvard.

Brooks, an MBA Candidate at HBS, told me that, following the AAU report, Confi decided to dig deeper. With its own survey, the startup sought to uncover the root of the issue. It discovered that men and women aren’t on the same page when it comes to factors related to sexual assault.

“In terms of expectations and perception, there is a huge gap between men and women,” Brooks said. “For example, when asked, ‘You meet someone at a party and dance together then go home together, what do you expect to happen next?’ most male students say, ‘Sex,’ while female students say, ‘Nothing is expected, maybe just hang out.’”

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