Interview with the two creators of Haunter.
The creators wish to remain anonymous.
LC: Tell me about your app Haunter.
Haunter is a non-profit organization that began back in September 2017. The app functions as a digital whistle-blower. It circulates classified documents provided by anonymous sources on cases of Sexual Misconduct
And it began at Yale?
1: Yes, (laughs) at Yale.
2: After a few false starts —
When did you have the initial idea for Haunter?
1: October 30 2015. I remember it specifically because it was the day before Halloween.
And what served as the inspiration for you two to do this?
2: (points to 1) Talk to [redacted], I came along towards the end.
1: Towards the end of the beginning. But [redacted] and our programmer, who couldn’t make it here with us this morning, were absolutely instrumental in taking it from just this idea that was blaring incessantly inside of my head to an actual thing that exists and is accessed by thousands of students across the country every day. Wait I’m sorry what was the question again? I feel like I didn’t answer it.
What inspired you to create Haunter?
1: Oh [laughs] right. Well I was inspired back in 2015. That fall a friend of mine revealed on Facebook that a group of black women had been barred that weekend from entering a party at a fraternity on campus due to it being a “white only” party. Her Facebook post proved to be the catalyst for a national conversation surrounding race on campus and at the same time, at Yale, every week it seems, there’s a new report in the Daily News about yet another case of assault, rape, coercion, or misconduct.
My friend generated a conversation, and the media cultivated it, but I still felt a chasm between how we were discussing the issue and what was actually being done to correct for it. I believe that the only way to enact real change is though transparency: addressing the issue again and ensuring the voice of every victim is properly heard every time. Then at least unsuspecting members of our society are aware of those individuals they should probably avoid. And so the idea for Haunter came from a simple impulse to share with fellow students what actually goes on behind closed doors in a Title IX hearing.
2: Because a lot of people even today, even in this climate, I think — I know, rather — are still confused as to what sexual misconduct actually looks like.
Before Haunter, did anything like it exist at Yale?
2: Not really. Before we developed Haunter, students had mostly relied on Yik Yak as its tool of choice for campus-wide information, and after that, Instagram became a popular outlet for stories like these, but to my knowledge, Haunter was the first app specifically developed to share the stories of victims.
1: The other apps were more of a tool for gossip.
Which its been said that Haunter is as well.
1: We have heard that, yes.
So what’s different about Haunter?
2: Our app doesn’t publish anything unless we’ve carefully vetted the case. We carefully vet every tip we hear and have committed ourselves to only publishing cases that we believe are “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
How do you think this app has changed hookup culture on campus?
2: Honestly I don’t think it really has.
2: Not in any huge ways, no. That’s the crazy thing. There are still new cases every day, and unfortunately that’s the very reason why our app keeps getting in the news.
1: But I think that perhaps for a future generation of college students — not quite our children, but the kids who are 10 or 12 years old right now — will probably experience a very different hookup culture than the one we’re experiencing today. We’re already seeing a generally depersonalization of our daily interactions — we shop online, date online, get off online, communicate online, etc — and I think endgame of a society wherein Haunter is a fundamental element, is one that perhaps makes students are bit more cautious before making a move on someone at a party, or engaging in relations with them after a few drinks. But we believe this alienation is ultimately a small price to pay for the pain that scars people — men and women — for years after an assault takes place.
What was the first story that broke on Haunter?
2: [Name redacted], the basketball player. I had just transferred to Yale and someone told me [redacted]’s story, and of the allegations against him, and it was disgusting. It was enough to get me on board the team, for sure. After I heard it I knew that there was no way I couldn’t be part of the team that brought this story to light.
1: Now is as interesting time in history as ever, perhaps more so because we’re living in a time when information is free and power has truly been returned to the people. Haunter is a tool that facilitates the flow of information from the more traditional top-down, to the revolutionary bottom-up.
What’s the next step for the app?
2: Boarding Schools.