Three Texas A&M students have teamed up to combine their knowledge of business with their dedication to combating sexual assault.
Ciaspora, founded by physics junior Gentill Abdulla, finance junior Princewill Imouokhome and management junior Michael Jordan, is a blockchain company for reporting sexual assault. Lotus Protocol, the program designed for reporting assaults, is slated to be released the beginning of summer 2018.
A blockchain is an electronic, continuously updated list of records useful for collecting and securely storing data from a vast network of users. Most widely known as the technology behind bitcoin and other digital currencies, it is now being applied in a wide variety of other areas where access to quickly shared, tamper-resistant data is useful.
“It’s essentially creating a system that is what is now called decentralized,” Abdulla said. “So that you have just as much power as everybody else has.”
Abdulla believes blockchain technology is underutilized in the social sector. He explains that the use of blockchain evens the playing field for all users so that no one person controls the information put out.
“Kinda think of it like Google Docs,” Jordan said. “You have a group project and everybody shares with the people within the group. Every time somebody logs on it’s always being updated. So you see the changes that another person makes, they see the changes that you make.”
Lotus Protocol, Abdulla said, is a self regulated system. Users may choose to report anonymously or not and they must police themselves with honesty in reporting attacks since it is not associated with the legal system.
Jordan explained that one of the short term goals for Lotus Protocol is to release an initial coin offering, an unregulated campaign to raise funds for cryptocurrency based projects, so they can aise funds for cryptocurrency based projects, generating the funding to get the program distributed. However, Jordan said they hope to make Lotus Protocol easily accessible to college students everywhere.
“My goal for [Lotus Protocol] is for it to be an app such as Code Maroon or the Texas A&M app,” Jordan said. “Just like, ‘Hey, this happened to me at this time, this location, boom, boom, boom, here’s the suspect.’”
Ciaspora got off the ground with help from the Aggie Network. Former students Paul K. Stafford, Class of 1990, Sherman Wright, Class of 1992 and Adekunle Adepoju, Class of 2016, are also working with the current students on the Lotus Protocol.
“We really reached out to the Aggie Network and just saw who we could find and who could help and who was really passionate about what we were doing,” Abdulla said.
Imoukhome said the three students each had their own ideas for starting companies, but soon realized they all had similar goals.
“Each of us had our own future aspirations to start a company and we happened to be friends,” Imoukhome said. “There was a certain point during the summer that we were going through certain sources of news and we were just shooting ideas off each other. We were all converging in this one spot and that’s when we decided that we want to enter this venture together.”
Through the use of the Lotus Protocol program, Ciaspora hopes to give a voice to sexual assault victims who feel powerless. Imoukhome said he believes centralized institutions are the reason why so many cases of assault go unreported.
“Ninety-five percent of all sexual assault instances on college campuses go unreported,” Imoukhome said. “Institutions or other powers are trying to push these things under the rug so we want to open these things up so people know the full truth of what is going on in their communities.”
Jordan said he believes Ciaspora can make college communities a better place and empower students.
“You as a student shouldn’t come here to this great facility to be an Aggie just to feel like you can’t speak up about yourself,” Jordan said, “We don’t need people walking around here committing certain acts as if they’re scot-free. No, that’s not what Texas A&M is about.”