App Dispenses Important Information

A cadet holds a cell phone displaying the Reach Out app.
The Reach Out app is available for both iPhone and Android. – VMI Photo by Kelly Nye.

LEXINGTON, Va., Oct. 3, 2016 – These days the best way to get information out is to put it in the palm of your hand. 

That’s exactly what Title IX coordinator Col. Jeff Boobar ’86 has done with important information related to sexual misconduct.  In the coming weeks, the mobile app Reach Out will be available to the Corps of Cadets and other interested members of the VMI community.

The app, which was created by the Chappaqua, New York, company Capptivation, is designed to provide college campus communities with information on the spot in the event of a sexual assault. 

“It’s specifically designed for sexual assault or sexual violence emergencies, but it can be used for any safety [issue],” said Boobar, noting that local police information is also available on the app. 

Boobar found out about the app at a Title IX conference in Philadelphia last year.  He was impressed by how the application could be customized to the campus served and then campus administrators could update the information on their own.

The home page on the app displays icons that direct the user to the information they need.  A cadet need only tap the icon to access a step-by-step guide on how to report a sexual assault, maps for where police and emergency services are located, and a directory with phone numbers and email addresses of the Title IX coordinator, chaplain, police, infirmary, and cadet counseling. The app also provides direct hotlines for organizations such as Project Horizon, which assists victims of dating, domestic, and sexual violence.

Cadets in the Cadet Equity Association and the Officer of the Guard Association are trying the app out before it’s distributed to the entire Corps.  CEA President Kristen Whitehurst ’17 likes the anonymity having an app provides.

“I think it will be used.  For one thing it’s like asking for information and you don’t have to actually ask.  So no one knows you’re looking for the information.  … Any question you have, you just go onto the app, and it’s the easiest way to get information,” she said.

She also noted that this a good way for her peers to remember where to find the information.  Emails the CEA sends out containing briefs can get buried under hundreds of emails that are sent out over the course of the year, for instance.  But an application on the phone is “not only easier to access, but it has more information to access,” she said.

One section of the app, for example, offers a featured article from a student newspaper.  Whitehurst opened the app to show an article from the Yale Daily News about Stanford University banning hard alcohol from parties. 

“You can even stay informed about talks around the world,” she said.

The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and from Google play.  Search for the “Reach Out-College Edition” app, download it, and select “Virginia Military Institute” when prompted.

– Kelly Nye


VMI: Forging 21st Century Leaders