The Least Degree of Allowance

BYU held its first ever Rape Awareness conference this week. At the conference, representatives of BYU’s administration spoke regarding the role of the Honor Code Office with respect to both sexual offenders and victims. In the event of a report of sexual assault, the BYU police department reviews the report and then may provide that report to the Honor Code Office, depending in part upon the activities of the survivor in the event. BYU representatives reportedly made it clear that the Honor Code remains a primary rule of conduct at the university, and “we do not apologize for that.”

If this recounting is accurate, when victims of sexual violence at BYU report their attack, they potentially put their academic future at risk. If you’ve been raped while in your boyfriend’s bedroom, you’re in trouble. If you were drinking at a party and were raped, you’re in trouble. If you were fondling a partner who then raped you, you’re in trouble. There are many more Honor Code rules which may apply. The trouble is both ecclesiastical and academic. The Honor Code Office will report to and coordinate with the bishop of the student. A woman who has been sexually assaulted may find herself penalized, suspended, even expelled for the circumstances of her attack.

The problems with this approach are clear. These rules discourage the reporting of sexual abuse and shield the perpetrators. Victims are shamed into silence. In their very moment of spiritual and physical pain, the Honor Code serves to heap additional guilt upon their heads. They are perhaps left with the implication that they deserved their attack. And if nothing is reported, the greater sin of sexual violence goes unpunished. The veneer of righteousness presented by the Honor Code is preserved and the sepulchre is kept white.

I would welcome further explanation from BYU administration. I hope that I am wrong. I attended BYU, love BYU and support its aims. But to say that this approach is not the right one is an understatement. It would be a sinful, repugnant way to approach victims of sexual abuse. I call upon BYU to provide some explanation and to shield victims in their reporting and healing.

Update: I’ve been informed that this was not the first such event held at BYU.


  1. Amen.

  2. I am a convert. I did not attend BYU; I do not particularly care about BYU, and so do not “love” BYU, any more than I “love” Northwestern or Yale.

    I am hyperventilating.

  3. I hope you are wrong. However, my sense is that the Church and Church institutions don’t handle “good principle–perverse consequence” situations very well. I have heard that BYU is notorious among Dean of Students type people around the U.S., not in a good way.

  4. I was there and I feel this account accurately reflects my experience at the event. It felt like the Honor Code office lady was reading a prepared script involving phrases like “We do not apologize” in response to a rape survivor opening up about how they investigated whether her sexual assault merited her receiving disciplinary action. People should be able to report sexual assault without fear of punishment.

  5. Madeline says:

    What I don’t understand is why the Honor Code Office needs to know who the victim is. Shouldn’t they just be aware of who the assaulter is because they want individuals who align themselves with high moral values on their campus? Why do they need to be aware of who the victim was? I feel like that’s a violation of privacy.

  6. Horrifying. Could someone call the Office of the BYU President during the work week and ask for a clarification since they don’t always see social media?

  7. Cspiker says:

    I graduated from BYU about 10 years ago. Those years were among the best times of my life. I received a quality education and made life long friends. It also cost a fraction of what I would have spent at other private institutions. All that said, I will discourage my children from attending so long as the honor code remains in place. The honor code shames victims. It creates perverse incentives for students who have made mistakes to hide those mistakes rather than confess and forsake them. It teaches students that is ok to discriminate against and our punish our lgbt brothers and sisters. And it infantilizes young adults. The code needs to go (or at least substantially change, in substance and enforcement).

  8. I was there and was so shocked by the callous way Sarah Westerberg handled the situation in a room full of rape survivors. She made it clear that BYU’s first priority is protecting BYU’s reputation and punishing victims of assault for any honor code violations that put the victim in a situation where they could be raped. She said BYU “does not apologize” for the “chilling effect” that this enforcement has on the reporting of sexual assault and rape. It is clear that BYU culture fosters rape culture, punishes rape victims, and protects rapists. I do not feel safe here.

  9. Manuel Villalobos says:

    That is extremely unsettling. I have a strong sense that you are not wrong. Rape everywhere is already under-reported. It already is a great challenge for victims to actually go through the emotionally draining process of reporting rape. Placing additional serious burdens on them surely makes it much less likely to happen; and in a way, it protects and harbors perpetrators. Thank you for bringing this to the table. I seriously hope that someone who can affect the situation and who possesses the humility, common sense, and real concern for the victims (beyond the “we do not apologize for that” attitude) can begin to act towards a healthier and safer policy.

  10. If a student went to the Provo police instead, would their report be more protected? Would they be referred to the BYU police?

    Does BYU have officers trained specifically for working with sexual assault victims? Does Provo?

  11. I’m transferring to USU because of how out of line BYU is with these kinds of things. I’m also very bothered by the religious freedom hipocrisy, a person is free to join the church but if they leave the church they lose their ecclesiastical endorsement and are no longer able to attend. Not cool at all.
    My dad wonders why I’m leaving BYU. He makes the point that some kids cry when they find out they didn’t get in. I wish he would see that BYU isn’t the same place it was in the 80s, and he’s not the same person he was in the 80s. He’s since had raised a gay son (my brother) and it seems odd that he doesn’t see why I’m desperate to get off that campus.

  12. Thank you for posting this, Steve. This policy is an outrage. Even in the best of circumstances, reporting of rape is extremely emotionally vulnerable, and subtle suggestions to the victim that she is not being believed are devastating. Someone who undertakes an aggressive investigation of whether a rape victim should be punished is doing active, lasting damage to the soul of another human, another child of God. If BYU won’t change the policy, let me speak to the individuals involved in any way in carrying out this policy: if you want to be able to report in your own Temple Recommend interview that you do not abuse other people, you must not participate in enforcing this policy. It’s that simple.

  13. I was told once, in the Honor Code Office, “This isn’t innocent until proven guilty. This is a Zion society.” Presumably in a Zion society, rape victims are guilty until proven innocent.

  14. Wow.
    I am horrified.
    This is so far from godly, I don’t know what to say other swear words.
    BYU, I am ashamed of you.

  15. President Burton’s quote that BCC just retweeted is very apropos here: “As we consider the ‘pressing calls’ of those who need our help, let’s ask ourselves, ‘What if their story were my story?'”

  16. Cynthia: exactly right!

  17. The inevitable outcomes of LDS church practices and beliefs. They sound good on the surface, when life is going well and there aren’t many extremes. But pushed to the extremes they all break down and show up as the train wreck they are.

    I’m sorry for all the people who have been victims of rape, and these policies.

  18. James Mitchell, I disagree with you entirely with your first paragraph. Nothing in our beliefs encourages this. That’s why active, believing members can be horrified at BYU’s approach.

  19. Dovie Peterson says:

    The Savior said, “Go thy way and sin no more.” <<<and this was a woman taken in adultery *not* raped, but who knows really what the historical context was. It was the Pharisees that were looking to stone her to death. Somewhere we've lost our way. Beam and mote come to mind, in fact all the parables and vignettes of Jesus' life overlay in one way or another unfavorably in this scenario. We are not Jesus, we can't be. We should reflect and try to be more like Him individually and institutionally, and at least try and do things in such a was as to not offend the idea of Jesus. Will it be perfect? No. Can we do better, can BYU do better even while upholding their behavior codes? Yes. We/they have made for ourselves a golden calf called honor code. These young adults are for the most part barely more than children the millstone warning still applies. This treatment offends God's children.

  20. @ErinAnn those are exactly the questions that need answering right now. Thank you to Meg Monk who just tweeted at us an alternate resource for rape victims instead of the BYU police we now know are deeply compromised in their ability to handle the situation without doing new, active harm to victims: ‏@MegMonk @ByCommonConsent this is sickening. For anyone who might need it, the Utah County 24/7 rape crisis line is 801-356-2511.

  21. Manuel Villalobos says:

    “Nothing in our beliefs encourages this.”

    He said practices and beliefs. While LDS beliefs themselves are not in any way directed at intentionally hurting anyone, they can be traced as root causes for much of the hurt that happens in the Church. And the practices? Yes, most definitely.

    Recently, I hear more and more of this anthem/mantra among all ranks in the LDS Church: “We do not apologize for that.”

    This is definitely a practice in the LDS Church, and it based on a belief. It is probably a perverted interpretation of something that should apply to God himself only, but it is definitely used by members and General Authorities to explain away many things that are seriously questionable within the practices, beliefs, management, and history of the Church. I do think accountability on LDS practices and beliefs is not completely out of the question here.

  22. Michelle says:

    Indeed, this was not the first BYU event addressing rape and sexual assault, but it WAS the first rape and sexual assault awareness event at BYU *with the magnitude that it had*, according to my friend who organized the whole thing. I don’t think previous events have incorporated as many outside groups or organizations, or advertised to so many people.

  23. Everyone, I’m not willing to turn this thread into passing judgment on the beliefs of the Church. If you want that sort of discussion, I’m sure lots of other forums are available.

  24. Thanks Michelle, and thanks to the organizers of the event!

  25. I guess I don’t even understand how it’s *legal* (note: I am not a lawyer) for police to turn over names of assault victims to the Honor Code for investigating. It’s certainly unethical. Maybe if they get enough bad press for this practice, they will stop.

  26. Kevin Barney says:

    Thank you for this, Steve. I had seen online rumblings to this effect, but to have this affirmatively stated by an official at a BYU rape awareness conference is most disappointing. I can’t decide whether this is more of a “didn’t think it all the way through” type of policy, or a “did think it all the way through and don’t particularly care about the victim, but only the reputation of the institution” type policy. In other words, are the PTB that promulgate and support this policy “without apology” thoughtless, uncaring, or maybe a little bit of both? That the Church’s flagship university should enable rapists in this way (by incentivizing victims not to report) hardly seems in keeping with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  27. This problem is prevalent in other college campuses as well.

  28. As a rape survivor who was blamed for kissing the boy who raped me, several hours before the attack occurred, I unfortunately believe that this attitude is way more accepted by LDS leadership than most people think. The Honoreason Code is how BYU (and other religious universities get around the requirements of Title UX protection for rape victims) because it is “freely signed” before the rape occurred.

    I am actively planning to do everything in my power to not have my children go to BYU, and this has been one of the major reasons since I heard a story 15 years ago from a girl who was sent home for being raped. Her rapist was allowed to graduate.

  29. John, what is your point? Captain Obvious says everybody and their dog knows that handling of campus sexual assault is a current issue. And the tone of your post suggests there’s no need to have any particular worry about this problem because other campuses have the same problem.

    Way to be part of the problem, bro. This *IS* different from what other campuses face, and worse, which is really saying something, since the situation on other campuses is already really bad!

  30. Kristine A says:

    As a Rexburg resident I just want to raise my voice on behalf of the victims at BYUI. We’re so far behind we’ve never even heard any rape awareness events. At least they are acknowledging the problem by talking about it in Provo. Hope we can catch up to them AND that both places will change this practice. It’s awful. Literally codifying victim blaming.

  31. ml, your post directly endorses rape culture by setting up an analogy in which the victim directly causes their own rape. Notice what is glaringly missing from your piss-poor analogy: A RAPIST.. Somebody who, of their own volition, with intent followed by action, chooses to rape another person. A better analogy would be that one employee smacks another employee over the head with a bat.

  32. There is a lot missing here and it brings up my frequent concern at meetings in Utah, whether they be in the church or not. Who was not there? Who was not invited to speak? What voices are we missing? What about the rape of a male. About 20% of rapes (these statistics are very hard to use knowing that the studies differ from community to community) are male on male and female on male rape. Were men invited to speak? Do those who organize these events in places such as at BYU even aware that this reality exists? That the shame and damage and potential disease is real to the victim if they are male as if they are female? The honor code is and should be only a guide to just and compassionate individual responsibility to a community not SHARIA law used to punish and harm and damage real humans.

    I would encourage the officials at BYU to be aware that there is more to this discussion and many more people who are ready and willing to increase BYU’s work to protect the victims of sexual assault and there is a different way to approach the use of the honor code so that it truly is being used for honorable community standards and not for non-sensical and baffling abuse of students struggling.

  33. Manuel Villalobos says:

    I am a Manufacturing Engineer graduated from BYU. I also work in manufacturing environments. I have been in the position of creating safety rules. I have also been in the position of deciding whether to fire someone for breaking a safety rule. I actually have been the safety coordinator of a processing plant that has led successful OSHA audits.

    I find your analogy bizarrely out of line and irresponsible in the context of this discussion. Per your analogy, it is OK to enforce rules that in general create a significantly less safe environment for everyone and that prevents those who get injured to properly heal. It also enables those who injure others to continue doing so, providing a safe heaven for one type of transgressor (the perpetrator) while destroying the victim.

  34. Manuel Villalobos says:

    previous comment direccted to “ml”

  35. What an atrocious and indefensible policy. It is based on the old presumption that rape only occurs when a stranger pulls someone aside in a dark alley, and ignores the fact that a majority of cases are done by perpetrators who are quite close to and familiar with the victim. The latter scenario seems to be mostly dismissed under the policy because it assumes the victim is as responsible as the rapist. Further, this is an extension of the inability to prioritize sins–the “Not Even Once Club” mentality masks our view so much that we allow much more grievous crimes to exist. The misbegotten theology of motes over beams.

  36. To be clear: ml’s analogy for explaining why blaming a victim for the circumstances of their rape is a totally fine thing to do is comparing a rape victim to an employee who accidentally injures themselves. NEWSFLASH: people do not accidentally rape themselves!! That is the whole point. A rapist rapes them. That is why it is not their fault. Because it is the rapist who rapes them’s fault. That is why blaming victims is wrong.

    ml, why is it that, in 2016, you are someone who needs this explained to you?!

  37. ml: what would be the equivalent of someone taking off their hard hat in a rape situation? Because I can’t come up with one that’s not 1) idiotic, 2) bigoted, 3) sexist, and 4) idiotic again. Employee #2 is not accidentally swinging around his **** and accidentally striking a bystander’s groin area.

  38. ml: Yes, the viewpoint that the employer should punish the rule violation IS enabling rape culture. By embedding punishment for reporting, your system would diminish reporting and punish the victim. The rule violation may be an appropriate issue in other circumstances, but in the case where there is a wilful perpetrator (a rapist or an employee with a bat) the rule violation HAS to take a back seat or else victims suffer twice and the system falls apart.

  39. ml, I’d say quit while you’re ahead, but you have never been ahead. Your comparison is ridiculously insulting.

  40. I’ve never been so happy in my entire life that I chose not to go to BYU and instead attended a less “prestigious” state school.

  41. Kevin Barney says:

    Let’s say a woman is drinking vodka, passes out, and then is gang raped by two BYU students. (This fact pattern isn’t made up; something like this happened at BYU a year and a half ago.) Yes, in isolation, drinking alcohol is a violation of the HC. But context is everything. A woman was raped! That’s the important point. Drinking alcohol is not malum in se but only malum prohibitum. Rape is a felony that, where the justice system works (not always a given), results in the assailant going to prison. In that context, the drinking is a footfault only and not worth worrying about. Sure, issue an HC citation or whatever if you catch a student drinking alcohol in isolation. But when it’s part of a fact pattern that involves rape, hello! We’re talking about rape here! In that situation BYU needs to keep it’s eye on the ball and focus on the *serious* HC (and penal code) violation: the rape. All provisions of the HC are not equal.

  42. ml, if an astonishing 1 in 5 of my employees were being inflicted with lifelong damage by a bunch of other employees who were hitting them on the head with bats, yes, ABSOLUTELY, I would do whatever it takes to address that issue before worrying about other issues, including, crucially, making sure that victims of bat-hitting would have circumstances necessary to enable and encourage them to report incidents. Not doing so would be not only wrong and heartless, but would probably expose me to lawsuits my over gross negligence in failing to address the fact that 1 in 5 of my employees is being whacked with bats in my work environment (and, worse, actively suppressing reporting that would help address it).

  43. I have a daughter who is planning on attending BYU in the fall. Tell me what I can do to try and change this. I’m feeling a little sick.

  44. Kevin Barney says:

    Yes indeed. But if the victim fails to report because she’s worried that she will be expelled for having drunk alcohol, the assailants go free. If the system looks askance at victims, questions the circumstances and wants to find fault because by her actions she was “asking for it,” victims will learn from this policy not to report rapes. Which is indeed in large measure the current state of affairs.

  45. Eric Russell says:

    With the exception of BYU-specific HC items, is this policy any different than in the church?

  46. It’s repulsive to compare the sexual violation of another to benign health and safety regulations in a corporate environment. Don’t feed us crap about choosing to be insulted. You’re completely wrong. Strike two.

  47. Lady Kerri says:

    Steve, thank you so much for spotlighting this. I have heard similar stories, but it is simply appalling (and beyond my understanding) how the Honor Code Office could take this line. Do they really not hear themselves?

    I also don’t feel this is a result of Church BELIEFS. However, I definitely think that it is a direct result of how SOME people interpret these beliefs. I think the bigger issue here is that we need, as a church, to address those attitudes that foster exactly this sort of victim-blaming. And as a previous commenter pointed out, many rapes are male or female on male. If the gender tables were turned, might these HC policymakers be better able to comprehend how there is no such thing as justification for rape, no matter WHAT the victim’s circumstances?

    Overall, I’m simply gobsmacked. How can the university not see the injustice of what they are doing here? How can they honestly believe this is how the Lord would have victims treated? Obviously they still aren’t clear on the fact that rape ALWAYS has a victim.

  48. Kerri, great perspective.

  49. Kristen says:

    So what do we do? Write to the president of BYU? Organize a protest? Has anyone talked to the SLTRIB? If BYU gets a lot of bad press over this issue will that make a difference? Help me out here…

  50. I’m not trying to start a fight, but I’m going to try and share a different perspective, maybe from the way that BYU will have to approach these issues. It’s not meant to be a defense of the Honor Code Office and the way it handles things. I know it’s not perfect, but I also don’t have an issue with the Honor Code in principle. BYU students should understand that education there is a privilege, and that the Honor Code is a higher level of commitment to standards of conduct that is rivaled only by the service academies and few other places.
    I don’t know that the police department should be reporting these things to the Honor Code office, but I’m also trying to understand how the Honor Code office wouldn’t eventually be brought into play.
    Let’s imagine that a sexual assault occurs between two BYU students and that it is reported to the police. In this scenario, the Honor Code office is not informed directly, and has no knowledge of the incident until the perpetrator (let’s assume it’s a man) is arrested. Upon his arrest for sexual assault, we can assume that the school, and therefore the honor code office, will be made aware and will investigate and monitor to determine whether this man will remain a student of BYU. In the course of investigating the incident, do we think that the young woman’s identity will remain a secret to the university?
    If he denies the allegation, not that sexual contact occurred but that the contact was not consensual, he will be admitting to some level of sexual behavior which is presumably against the honor code. This will draw the victim in and they will become a part of the Honor Code’s investigation.
    I’m just trying to understand how the victim avoids all notice of the Honor Code office.
    And if their behavior prior to the sexual assault was not in keeping with the honor code, I’m not sure that the horrific nature of the sexual assault means there should be no consequences for those actions.
    I believe in due process, and the lack of due process is a problem at universities all over the country. But I also made a consistent, though imperfect, effort at obeying the honor code. If I chose to disobey it, and then experienced some bad outcome as a result, I would expect to see a consequence from that. A BYU education is subsidized by the sacred tithes of Church members. That should mean something more.

  51. JL, check yourself. Specifically this: “if I chose to disobey it, and then experienced some bad outcome as a result, ….” Explain to me how a rapist deciding to commit the crime of rape against me is the “result” of a choice I make? I forced the rapist to commit the crime of rape? Your logic is upside down and blames rape victims for rape, rather than rapists. You are a rape apologist and endorsing rape culture. Congratulations. If you don’t like these labels attached to you, I suggest you rethink your “logic” here.

  52. Kristen says:


  53. So … what are the proposed solutions? Only pursue honor code violations if rape didn’t occur? (Asking somewhat seriously, since I do have a daughter at BYU.)

  54. Kristen says:

    previous comment was meant for Cynthia

  55. Tom: no.

  56. Let’s try a slightly different employee analogy. An employee disables a quality check system, which is a fireable offense. Another employee, for unrelated reasons, hits the first employee in the head with a bat. The injured party reports the assault to the boss. The boss discovers, as he gathers facts about what happened that day, that the injured employee had broken a regulation. Assuming the boss fires the perpetrator, what action (if any) is appropriate to take against the victim for the regulation violation?

  57. queuno (1:27pm): Yes. There are lots of issues with rape–reporting, victim shaming, burden of proof, etc etc. But for the issue raised here, yes–no honor code violation. None. Zero. Not even a hearing. And for those who complain that then the victim gets a pass . . . you just don’t get it.

  58. Steve: I have to admit that I’m surprised. Your first paragraph is so similar to the post that I assumed it was your source. Did you hear about this personally from someone who was at the rape awareness conference? The reason I ask is that when I first saw the reddit post I was skeptical about the story. But if there are two accounts of it I’m much less so.

  59. Tom, read the comments here, which include confirmations from several people who were in attendance.

  60. Good to know, thanks.

  61. All analogies are going to fail because there is no analogy that will compare to the violation of another human being. And doing so? Is really demeaning and dismissive to survivors and also really gross.

  62. Lady Kerri says:

    We need to get past the concept that ANY situation justifies punishing or blaming the victim of a crime. It’s not okay for murder victims (“He broke the rules by being in a no-trespassing area so it’s his fault he got murdered”). It’s not okay for rape victims. Full stop.

  63. I’m pulling my hair out over some of these comments.

    JL: “…if their behavior prior to the sexual assault was not in keeping with the honor code, I’m not sure that the horrific nature of the sexual assault means there should be no consequences for those actions.”

    THEY. WERE. RAPED. How is that not punishment enough, in your brain??!

  64. ml, don’t try to deflect blame for your poor choice of analogy. It’s not your fault that you made an analogy that was not only inapt but offensive, because the incident you described actually happened? Huh? I can think of LOTS of “actual circumstances that happened” that I would not choose to use as analogies in situations where they are a poor analogy. Own your crap. But then, excusing men from owning their crap is also the theme of the points you are making about rape, so at least you get points for consistency.

  65. Jessie, great catch. Of course one classic component of rape culture is a conscious or unconscious belief that the victim wanted it or enjoyed it. So JL’s belief that it’s not punishment, and the victim has “no consequences” is not really surprising.

  66. I’d like to clarify my comments at 10:59 and 11:22. I have a fundamental belief that the gospel of Jesus Christ opposes blaming victims and shaming them. I just think it’s wrong and has no place. Anytime BYU or the Church engages in something like that, I think it should be brought to light and rooted out. There’s a lot in our practices (and lots in our culture generally) that contribute to a mindset of victim blame, and I won’t defend those. And while the Gospel of Jesus Christ is dead set against harming victims, I was wrong to overstate that nothing in our beliefs encourages this behavior.

    Our beliefs certainly can and do contribute to an attitude of blaming victims of sexual abuse, especially women. Everything from spousal control to “did you fight enough” to simply devaluing women and placing them under a male hierarchy ultimately fosters a rape culture. I apologize for implying that all is well and that there’s nothing to change in our perfect Zion. We have a lot of work to do. *I* have a lot of work to do.

    I try to keep conversations at BCC constructive and fair to all those who participate. It’s a place for active believers in the Church and I’d like it to remain that way, but I was wrong earlier and had a knee-jerk reaction to perceived attacks on a Church that I love.

  67. Lady Kerri says:

    ^^^thank you steve. I do know that I have always been impressed with your low key and fair minded approach, so really didn’t question how you meant those things. It’s true. The Gospel of Jesus and His teachings in no way approve victim blame.

  68. @risa I’m a survivor, so I don’t need to be told a survivor would be insulted by my comment. I’m not sure why you’re upset I’m trying to teach a man to think differently about rape. (Also, being hit in the head with a bat is potentially lethal. I think that counts a “being violated” even though it isn’t sexual.)

  69. I’m not advocating for any punishments for victims, in case that isn’t clear.

    Having said that, the phrase and mentsays rape is a punishment for misbehavior. A natural consequence or something. It implies the rape was partially (if not fully) justified. I’m hesitant to say to a survivor, “I won’t punish you for drinking because your rapist did that for me.” I’d rather say “You were drinking. I’m giving you a warning. Don’t do it again.” and then get back to the big picture of what help they need to heal after the rape.

  70. Heather says:

    But maybe it will discourage young women from being in places where rape is more likely to happen! My goddaughter was date raped, which was awful. Was it her fault the guy did this- no! But she was in a dangerous situation, which she put herself in after multiple warnings from me, her parents, and even guy friends who warned her that sneaking out of the house at night to go off with guys that no one knew she was with could easily result in rape. So, from that stand point, disobedience can lead to dire circumstances.
    Also, whether people admit it or not, there are girls who call rape to avoid getting in trouble for sexual misconduct. “Oh, I didn’t willingly have sex with him!”
    So, I don’t think the school is shaming them for getting raped, but don’t freaking get into situations that could lead to rape if at all possible!

  71. *the phrase and mentality “rape was punishment enough” says rape is punishment for misbehavior.

    (Sorry, I’m on mobile.)

  72. This policy is heinous, both on the part of BYU and the Provo Police Dept. What are they doing, sharing victim names with third parties? Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    With regards to the comments that oddly compare rape reporting to occupational safety violation reporting, with the inference that no one would ever let occupational safety violations go unpunished, there is actually a great deal of literature and accepted practice that in a medical environment, at least, allowing employees to report safety violations without fear of punishment-for themselves or the violator-actually increases reporting and identification of problem areas, leading to addressing systemic problems and making the environment safer for everyone.

  73. 1) I haven’t heard anyone report that the HC office said they wouldn’t go after the rapist… did I miss that?
    2) How is the HC office blaming the victim? Did they also say that a rape victim would be punished for being raped? Or, as the OP puts forth, are they only punished for the drinking at the party/being in boyfriends room/fondling a partner? If they are punishing them for being raped that would be horrific, but I understand from the posts that they are not doing that.
    3) “I have a daughter who is planning on attending BYU in the fall. Tell me what I can do to try and change this. I’m feeling a little sick.” Encourage her not to violate the HC. Then if (heaven forbid) she is raped she won’t have any guilt/concern/worry/fear about coming forward and having the rapist prosecuted.
    4) Violent rapists should be castrated (Unfortunately the definitions of rape allow for either a man or woman who later regrets a consensual sexual encounter to claim rape if any alcohol or drugs were involved… I saw this ALOT in the military. Because of this not all accused rapists are guilty of anything more serious than fornication with a lousy partner).
    5) I thought the LDS belief was that we “WILL be punished for our own sins” … isn’t this the basis for the HC Office policy. That all people will be held accountable, and having fallen victim to a crime does not relieve us of the guilt of our own choices.

    Sorry these are unpopular ideas on this thread, but that is how I’ve processed the information presented so far.

  74. Ariel, I knew I was navigating a minefield there, which was why I added “in your brain” at the end of my comment. I was addressing someone who thinks that breaking the Honor Code naturally leads to rape and that the victim is at least partially at fault and should be punished – positions that I, of course, unequivocally condemn.

  75. “Obey the Honor Code or your rapist will walk free” seems rather at odds with God’s way of running the universe.

  76. ml says: “You can prosecute and expel rapists. And hold people accountable to the honor code. Both. At the same time.”
    Actually it’s useful that you say this because it is at the heart of the issue and presents a clear statement to counter. The answer is that NO, you can’t. If you try to “hold people accountable” then you set up a great disincentive to report, aggravate the suffering of the victim, and permit rapists to get off.
    Let’s not pretend that there are easy or everyone’s happy answers. These are hard problems. There might be false reporting (statistics say not very much, but more than zero). There might be less than 100% incentive to comply with the honor code (personally I doubt that that is a significant part of the story, but I do not have numbers nor direct experience). There might be individual cases that go sideways. This is not about perfect. This is about the best system and process we can put together in a failed world, that will make the most good for the most people.

  77. “If you try to “hold people accountable” then you set up a great disincentive to report, aggravate the suffering of the victim, and permit rapists to get off.”


    Not to mention that the unreported rapist remains free to victimize more BYU students. So the BYU Honor Code Office, by punishing people for relatively minor honor code violations after those people report they’ve been raped, is indirectly increasing the number of rapes at BYU.

  78. Some men are aggressive and predatory. Some women are naive and vulnerable. Maybe some of rape victims did not have a father in their lives and were seeking for male companionship to fill that void. There are many possibilities. The rapists should be subjected to the fullest extent of the law. But the victims should be given mercy and another chance even if they somehow violated the HC. Where is the mercy in this BYU policy? Who among us is lacking of his own guilt? Even letter-of-the-law hardliners should recognize that courts often grant immunity to those who have broken lesser laws as exchange for their willingness to testify against those who have done greater crimes!

  79. Jax, addressing your points:

    1. Yes, the HC office would go after the rapist. That’s been unsaid, mostly because it’s a pretty straightforward assumption, but yes.

    2. When you punish a victim for their behavior surrounding the attack, it directly implies that they contributed to the attack. Further, it adds a level of trauma to someone who has already suffered real trauma.

    3. I’m gonna skip that.

    4. False accusations of rape are a real thing, but they’re an outlier. I generally don’t agree with castration for rapists. It’s not clear that would keep a serial rapist from continuing to do so. That said, if you’re more just getting at being super angry about rapists and wanting to punish the living crap out of em, I’m with you.

    5. Yes, LDS believe in personal accountability. It’s unclear to me that this is what the Honor Code is doing here. When you’re dealing with someone who has been the victim of a violent crime, the priority should be in tending to those who are hurt and suffering. That they were drinking or out too late, etc. is just insignificant. BYU doesn’t need to punish them – they are already suffering. What purpose is served by kicking out a rape victim? I get that we want people to act as they’ve promised to act, but this purity of purpose needs to factor in the status of the person and succoring them as Christ would.

  80. matthewscottkern says:

    It appears to me this is a balance of justice and mercy. My gut reaction was this was unfair and could have terrible outcomes, but the investigation process has the ability for compassion. The committee can choose no action.

    I would hope that any investigation of such a crime would show the victim has already had enough pain.

    See below for BYUs investigation process.

  81. Leah Silverman says:

    I had a friend who was raped during my time at BYU. When she reported it, she was immediately grilled about the circumstances in a really aggressive and invasive way. I remember her saying to me that she felt like they were trying to find a reason that she was at fault. In her case, she wasn’t. She was in his living room, before curfew. Her bishop did want to know “why they were alone” as though she should’ve known to avoid that. But no rules were broken on her part and so he was punished and she was not. But even the process of determining whether or not she should be punished was very, very traumatic for her. The whole thing was really brutal.

  82. Sean Lindsay says:

    I’m one of those people who was raped at school, though the school where I was raped was a junior high school in Maryland, rather than BYU in Provo (which I attended in later years). And I also happen to be one of those people that Rob Killian noted early on in this thread — a rape survivor who happens to be male.

    There were no rape shield laws in Maryland in those years. So after my parents and I reported the crime to the police, and after I went through the medical examinations, and after the prosecutor arraigned my attacker, and after the prosecutor agreed to help me transfer to a different junior high school, the local papers got the story — from the police blotter, I suppose. And when they picked up the story, inattentive readers scanned the paper, and what became “common knowledge” in my neighborhood was that I was involved in sodomy in the boy’s bathroom at school. So when I showed up at the new junior high school, the story had preceded me there.

    I can’t begin to describe the emotional harrowing of the next couple of years of my life, despite all the love and support of my family. The 1970s weren’t a particularly safe time to be thought of as gay as a young teenager.

    Had I known at the time my parents asked if they could call the police the evening of the day I’d been raped that there would be so much public and institutional fallout as there was, I don’t think I’d have considered even for a split second saying yes.

    There are good and sound reasons for rape shield laws. BYU should be ashamed at creating an environment where rape is cloaked and rape survivors uncloaked for any reason at all.

  83. April, nobody is comparing rape reporting to safety violation reporting. Nobody is advocating zero tolerance policies about either workplace safety or honor code violations. People (ml and I) are comparing rape to a workplace injury/assault that happened in the same setting as a workplace policy violation. The question is whether BYU should punish policy violations they discover when they are investigating assault. I said they should give an informal warning, and never imply “the rape was punishment enough” because of what that says about the justice of assault.

    Jax, let’s say your daughter goes to BYU, breaks the honor code once, doesn’t get caught, doesn’t do it again. Would you tell her to turn herself in? I wouldn’t. Now let’s say she broke the honor code once, got assaulted the same day, and can’t report the assault without incriminating herself. Should she be able to report and assume she would have her mistake overlooked? Now let’s assume that girl was your daughter’s roommate. She didn’t report because she was afraid to self-incriminate. A rapist remains free, and he probably knows your daughter. He might only rape women who have broken the honor code, but are you willing to bet on it?

  84. “never imply “the rape was punishment enough” because of what that says about the justice of assault.”

    Well put, Ariel.

  85. “What purpose is served by kicking out a rape victim?”

    But that makes it sound like they are kicking them out FOR BEING a rape victim. They aren’t doing that are they? It is not an HC violation to be raped… as your sentence wording suggests.

  86. Jax, it’s inseparable, both in the mind of the victim and in the eyes of the community. There is no neat, clean distinction. That’s a big part of the problem.

  87. Sean Lindsay @2:58: It strikes me as incredibly brave to post as you did, with your name, even so many years later. Thank you. My reaction–that what ought to be an accusation of the rapist and the system in fact seems a brave self-reveal–is itself a measure of the problem.

  88. Ariel, in complete honesty (and knowing I’ll likely get destroyed for saying this on here) I’d tell my daughter not to report it to anyone but me. I’d call in my favors owed and arrange for an alibi and handle it myself. But I might be more willing to do that than most.

    If I didn’t have the resources to do that, then I’d absolutely tell her to report it. THERE WOULD BE A RAPIST ON THE LOOSE!!! Her personal shame would not be worth the dread of wondering if he would do it again, or the lifelong guilt if he did and knowing she could have prevented it. I KNOW that coming forward is hard, especially when dealing with other fallout (like how your platoon will handle a very popular member being accused of the crime and being dishonorably discharged). In the same degree that punishing the rapist is more important than punishing the victim’s other sins, the victim needs to understand that making sure the rapist FACES that punishment is more important than avoiding their own.

    Every rape victim should come bravely come forward and make sure that the perp is named and punished. Letting a rapist roam free in order to hide your own issues is a terrible choice and unconscionable IMHO… and I say that as a victim myself.

  89. Steve,

    It is inseparable in the minds of people because you make it sound like one and the same in the wording you use. They aren’t kicking out rape victims. They kick out HC violators; being raped is not a HC violation. If people see them as one and the same then it is because your verbiage conflates them and CREATES that impression. It is not accurate.

  90. Jax, I thought your first response was awful but this last comment takes it to a whole new level. What a disgusting display of victim-blaming. Now, in your mind, a rape victim isn’t just responsible for the circumstances of her or his own rape, but for any future rapes that should occur if the victim doesn’t come forward. I have no words.

  91. Jax, I am probably not going to convince you. That’s too bad, but it’s ok. I’d ask you to respect the views expressed in this thread overall as I’ve been respectful of yours. I think we can generally agree that we want to stop sexual violence from happening, punish the offenders and succor the victims. We can probably also agree that it’s important to follow the Honor Code. Where we’re disagreeing, I think, is that where there’s a possibility of conflict, I place aiding the victim over ensuring that the Honor Code is being followed. I see the two priorities as clearly in conflict, and you do not. I would imagine that BYU shares your view. My understanding is that most rape victims and counselors would not agree with you. Life goes on. Thanks for your perspective.

  92. Fargo B says:

    Let me get this straight. BYU would rather have rapists walking around campus just so they have the option to discipline women who may have made mistakes? BYU has the option to shield the victim or have unreported rapes and BYU chose the latter? Whoever made this policy needs to lose his or her job, ASAP. This is an evil policy. I can tell you that Jesus Christ or common sense didn’t author it. This is the kind of policy that leads to lawsuits and traumatized students, not to mention the loss of funding.

  93. Jax, you describe an idealized scenario. It might work well for your daughter (I don’t know her) but that’s why I ended with the thought that this is your daughter’s roommate, not your daughter. If your daughter’s roommate didn’t report a rape because she was afraid of being punished for drinking or whatever, and now the rapist on the loose is a danger to your daughter (who is probably blissfully unaware of the whole situation), would you want BYU to keep that situation as the status quo? Or would you want them to develop a policy of mercy, so your daughter’s roommate might become willing to report? A policy change would benefit your daughter, even if she never breaks the honor code, because it would make the campus safer for everyone.

  94. Kevin Barney says:

    I think the legal distinction I raised above between that which is malum prohibitum (That which is wrong simply because it has been prohibited, as by a statute) and malum in se (conduct that is evil in and of itself) is useful here.

    Examples of crimes or torts that might be considered malum prohibitum would include:

    building or modifying a house without a license
    copyright infringement
    illegal drug use
    illegal hunting
    operating a business without a license
    prohibition of alcohol
    surrogacy for profit
    weapon possession
    illegal immigration

    Some of the things included in the Honor Code include:

    Be honest
    Live a chaste and virtuous life
    Obey the law and all campus policies
    Use clean language
    Respect others
    Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
    Participate regularly in church services
    Observe Dress and Grooming Standards
    Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code

    All good things, sure. Obeying the law includes both types of standards, but most of these are malum prohibitum–wrong simply because they have been listed in the policy. You might get kicked out of school, but you won’t go to jail for wearing a beard or not wearing socks with sandals or drinking a martini. But rape is, I submit, without question malum in se, in that it is an act “naturally evil as adjudged by the sense of a civilized community,” (The classic examples of malum in se offenses are murder, rape and theft.)

    The Honors Office is thinking of all of these standards as the same; violation of any of them is a violation of the Honor Code, which they are there to uphold. And under normal circumstances, if say a student isn’t going to church or something, then sure, go ahead and call the student in and have a talk with him. But in the case of rape, these other things pale into insignificance. Now is not the time to hammer a victim for perceived violations of these things, such as drinking alcohol, being in someone’s apartment after hours, or whatever. People are thinking of this list as if they’re all the same. They’re not. Rape, like murder, is off the charts malum in se, an inherent evil in and of itself. And when a woman has been raped, now is not the time to bring to bear every jot and tittle of the Honors Office enforcement mechanism. To me it seems clear that in such a situation the focus should be on the rape, not whether the victim had multiple earrings or was kissing the assailant prior to the assault.

  95. Steve, I think that is precisely the disconnect we have on this issue, and well stated.

    I have no experience with BYU post-rape aid given to students. Do they not do everything they can to aid them, give counselling/comfort/etc, and help relieve suffering in every other way possible? Can they not give aid and also hold the person accountable for their own follies?

  96. So other than “eliminate the Honor Code” what’s the answer, then?

    It’s well known that illegal immigrants are frequently exploited by people who know they can (usually) get away with it because their victims’ legal status gives them a major disincentive to go to the authorities and seek justice.

    This is definitely a problem…but basically an unsolvable one. Because as long as that undocumented status exists, there will always be a disincentive to get authorities involved. How exactly do you eliminate that disincentive without eliminating enforcement of immigration status altogether?

    If the Honor Code punishes X, and someone is doing X when a crime Y is committed against them, it doesn’t matter if everyone in the world agrees that X and Y were not related in any way, the fear of being discovered and/or punished for X will always have a ‘chilling effect’ on reporting Y. It doesn’t matter what X and Y are — this will ALWAYS happen. The only possible answer to remove this disincentive is to stop enforcing X altogether.

    So, again, other than “eliminate the Honor Code” what should BYU’s policy be? Selective enforcement through “shielding”? (How would you justify punishing girl A but not girl B for Honor Code Violation X only because girl B had a separate and unrelated crime Y happen to her at the time? How could you possibly do that without saying in essence “Y was your punishment for X” — which we’re trying NOT to do, right?)

  97. Isn’t it interesting that in 2016 we still have institutions that are doing everything they can to protect the institution, even up to expelling and punishing the victims of sexual assault. That the ‘honor code’ and BYU are more important than the health and well being of a victim of rape, assault, or what ever else personal violation they suffered, physical or sexual. The church has paid millions of dollars to silence the stories of sexual abuse in the church and, while the scandal is minor in comparison to the Catholic scandal that goes all the way to the pope covering up the sexual and physical abuse of children, it still is unnerving that in 2016 a women representing the Honor code office is made to read a statement designed to protect the institution from the victims of sexual or physical assault. Any institution that is out to cover up abuse and out to punish the victims of rape is not doing the work of the Lord nor is it a safe place for our sons and daughters.

  98. Jax, how would they provide support (via BYU counseling center or etc.) after expelling the student? Wouldn’t that by definition seperate the student from the institution that we all agree should be providing aid?

    KMB, I agree it isn’t totally fixable, but I think a policy of “if there’s a rape, make it a warning, for the explicit purpose of not discouraging rape reports” would be understood as it’s intended and not understood as unjust selective enforcement. Having said that, I’d support eliminating the honor code.

  99. As a mental health professional, I think the rabid “everything you say promotes rape culture and must be silenced” attitude is really unhealthy for men and women. It doesn’t help victims. It further victimizes them.

    I would encourage those people to engage in some real shame resilience work (such as Brene Brown’s work). A key part of building shame resilience is distinguishing between blame and accountability. Holding people accountable for their actions is not blame.

    If an accusation of rape acts as an automatic get out of jail free card for any young woman, I wouldn’t dream of letting my son attend BYU. Right now there are relatively few false accusations, how can this type of policy not be expected to increase false accusations?

  100. Kevin explained quite well why I think that a victim needs to report a rape regardless of BYU policy. “Rape, like murder, is off the charts malum in se” … so do everything you can to make sure such a person receives the severe punishment they deserve and don’t fret about the much milder punish that you also deserve. Avoiding the punishment for avoiding a small thing is not a good reason to let the perpetrator of a terrible thing go unpunished/unreported. How could you say to yourself, “I don’t want to get punished for being out past curfew, so I’m going to let a rape to unreported and a rapist walk freely.” Unconscionable IMHO, even if other victims view it differently.

    If I heard on a radio scanner a BOLO/Amber Alert and I spotted the car speeding away in front of me, I’d happily face the punishment for speeding/reckless driving in order to catch the kidnapper – even if that punishment was the revocation of my license. I’d happily face the punishment for my infraction in order to catch the perpetrator of a MUCH more serious infraction/crime. Is this an unreasonable viewpoint?

  101. Jax, I don’t think your viewpoint is out of reason, but I do think it’s far better applied as a personal approach than a basis for policy.

  102. Jax, I think that’s an admirable way to live life. I’m sure you know not everyone is willing to live that way. If we write policy assuming that everyone lives that way, the policy we write may not end up serving our goals in the real world where people act differently.

  103. Ariel: I’ve admitted ignorance to post-rape BYU procedures. Is the person expelled the next day? week? month? Are there hearings? Does the staff typically shun the person (that’s be a personal issue as well as possibly an institutional one)? Do they offer any immediate protection for the victim or are they left to their own resources?

    How long after a rape does the institution owe aid? Months? Years? Lifetime? What aid is offered to those who aren’t found guilty of HC violations? I don’t have any experience here so I can’t offer suggestions.

    Ideally I suppose it would be good to first find and punish the rapist and after that process is finished then turn to the victims case of HC violations. Do they currently do the victims case first or simultaneously? I’m not going to be apologetic for the aid they do give since I have no idea what it is. I’m only dealing with the one topic of whether to punish the victim at all for a HC violation. I wouldn’t say they “should”, but I don’t think it is outrageous or terrible that they do.

  104. KMB–as far as undocumented immigrants go, most police and sheriffs are smart and refuse to enforce immigration law (which is a federal issue anyway, and most sheriffs have enough to worry about without worrying about legal status). Of course, immigrant communities still worry some about alerting authorities, but most of the time they don’t need to worry.

    In fact, the federal government even has a program in place that allows for undocumented immigrants to become legal if they’re a victim of a crime and help the police or prosecutor. So, for example, a rape victim who is also an undocumented immigrant can go to the police, the police arrest the perpetrator, and instead of the victim being deported, the victim is actually rewarded for going to the police by being given the opportunity to obtain an actual visa so that she is no longer undocumented.

    BYU could learn something from that.

  105. Guess what article BYU has at the top of their home page right now? Pretty rich.

  106. Jax, I was just answering your question “Can they not give aid and also hold the person accountable for their own follies?” (no) and I’m not sure how the timeline details are relevant.

    In the real world, the vast majority of rapes are never reported, and rapists walk free. Even if you feel strongly that victims should report, the fact remains that the real world isn’t currently happening. A policy change at BYU could help correct the problem of underreporting. This would make the campus safer for everyone, honor code compliant or not. It would also help avoid expulsions that sever a victim’s tie with the student counselling services.

    KL, I’m not envisioning a get out of jail card. I’m envisioning a policy of not punishing students for violations that only came to light as a result of a rape report. Very different from a student getting caught and making a accusation of rape as a defense against a pre-existing report of misbehavior. I agree that would cause false reports.

  107. BYU may have room for mercy in the investigation process, but as long as there’s any uncertainty around outcomes, it will still deter reporting. I know a friend who was date-raped (and had not violated the Honor Code!), and her bishop still made her go through a long probationary period to prove that she really wanted to be at BYU. I wouldn’t be surprised if the baseline response to rape reports at BYU is often skepticism, even without evidence of accompanying HC violations. I can also imagine predators employing “Honor Code blackmail,” deliberately maneuvering targets into compromising positions prior to attacks. When I was at BYU, many of my girlfriends were naively pressured by boyfriends into doing things they weren’t totally comfortable with–there just wasn’t a lot of education about consent. I think BYU needs a clear policy of not expelling rape victims on the basis of (non-violent) Honor Code violations turned up in a rape investigation. This will get rapists off BYU campus and help victims feel supported. In general, I think BYU shouldn’t be expelling people for non-violent, infrequent HC violations. Sure, expel people who do things violent or felonious, who are academically dishonest, or who show a pattern of disregard for the Honor Code. But otherwise, students will be better off if they’re allowed to seek guidance on dealing with things like sex and drugs, instead of trying to hide these things from everyone in their lives for fear of being expelled. People suffer natural consequences for their wrong actions, so the fear that they will somehow go unpunished if they aren’t suspended or expelled is silly. Young adults need love and help, especially when the make mistakes. The current system seems based on the idea that young people can’t learn to make moral decisions without the threat of institutional punishment, and consequently many students don’t seek help when they need it most.

    I think BYU also needs to put more emphasis on consent! At least when I was there, consent was not really a topic of discussion, since you weren’t supposed to be doing anything sexual in the first place unless you were married. But consent also applies to dating outside of sex, and within marriage.

  108. Since 2011, when the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights issued its “Dear Colleague” letter–which expanded the understanding of Title IX by shifting much of the investigating and reporting requirements for sexual assault to colleges and universities–I have overseen my university’s efforts to comply with these directives. I believe that the OCR was absolutely correct in making this move. And, if what the OP says about BYU’s response is true, I believe that my alma mater is profoundly out of compliance with the spirit of the regulations, and dangerously close to being out of compliance with the core text of the law.

    There are two fundamental reasons that the OCR made this shift. One is that colleges and universities have allowed a pervasive and insidious rape culture to take root on their campuses. I do not use the term “rape culture” lightly. It is not a word that I throw around at the slightest provocation. American colleges have been saturated with sex and alcohol for a long time, and they have done a very bad job explaining–or even understanding–the difference between consensual sexual activity and rape. As a result, women who have been raped at parties or on dates by people they have trusted have been almost universally treated as participants, rather than victims. And on the few occasions when police have investigated, and DAs have charged, rapists, their victims have been destroyed by the court systems. Colleges have traditionally simply stayed out of the rape investigation business because they have been able to say that it is a matter for the officials.

    The new Title IX regulations make this impossible. Colleges are responsible for training all students in the difference between rape and consensual sexual activity, for making sure that victims have safe avenues for reporting sexual assault, and for using campus disciplinary processes to hold rapists responsible. The linchpin of the whole structure is SAFE REPORTING AVENUES. Morally, and now legally, campuses must protect victims and encourage reporting by making the reporting process a safe as possible for the victim. Otherwise, sexual predators will continue their predatory behavior and create more and more victims. The one thing that a university CANNOT DO is discourage reporting. Many, many lives are at stake if they do.

    If BYU is indeed turning those who report sexual assault over to the honor code office, and prosecuting them for minor honor code violations that may have occurred during the incident (i.e. Word of Wisdom violations, room visitation violations, etc.), then they are unquestionably discouraging reporting. This is the one thing that a school cannot do. They have one job. . . .

  109. Kevin Barney says:

    If a young woman is raped during her senior year, and there are accompanying circumstances that might look bad for her (say she was drinking), under current policy she very likely will not report the rape. Because she knows that if she does, there is an excellent chance that the last three and a half years of her life, including many tens of thousands of dollars she has spent towards her education, will be toast. She can’t just transfer her credits to Utah State or wherever, as BYU won’t transfer credits without a valid ecclesiastical endorsement. You would think her student ward bishop would be sensitive to the situation, but we all know there are such bishops who are hanging judges and there is no assurance of receiving mercy there. This has to be dealt with on a policy basis, and the current policy doesn’t work.

  110. I’m appalled by the strong opinions in this feed and the seeming lack of effort to have good information to back up these opinions. I’m grateful that I ended on Michael Austin’s comment.

    I would like to add that there is a really amazing Rape Crisis team in Utah County and they can always use more volunteers. It’s an opportunity to get some in depth training about this issue and to be a support to victims in our community.

  111. Carrie Brown says:

    It seems as though it would be easy to have and publicize some kind of Immunity clause where the victim can be considered to have immunity for their HC violations in return for testifying about a perpetrator of an actual crime. (Being in someone’s bedroom isn’t a crime, but rape is, FYI, people.) That way they aren’t placing themselves in jeopardy for testifying to the HC committee which involves another HC violation (rape – a grievous sin) which is clearly a lot greater than the non-sin of being in someone’s bedroom. And although the rule has been broken, I would hope the HC committee would be able to recognize the courage that it would take to speak up about and turn someone in for rape. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to have to explain a traumatic experience such as rape for the record to a committee of people, whether in person or written. Children’s Justice Centers are set up for that purpose: because people know that it is difficult and traumatic for children to have to relive traumatic experiences, including rape, in order to testify about a perpetrator. We need to remember that there are people of all ages for whom recounting a tale of such abuse is a traumatic experience in and of itself. It is the absolute responsibility for any governing body to acknowledge the difficulties that sin and crime create for the victim and part of the responsibility of the governing body to do everything in their power both to not further victimize the victim and to ensure the perpetrator is held responsible for their actions. Immunity clause, BYU. Immunity clause.

  112. . Appalled, I say! Appalled!

  113. Steve, are you mocking me? I wasn’t specific about whose comments disturbed me but up to this point it wasn’t yours.

  114. “KMB–as far as undocumented immigrants go, most police and sheriffs are smart and refuse to enforce immigration law (which is a federal issue anyway, and most sheriffs have enough to worry about without worrying about legal status). Of course, immigrant communities still worry some about alerting authorities, but most of the time they don’t need to worry.”

    I believe it, but your last sentence is the crux of the matter — it’s about perception not just reality. If there are a non-zero amount of undocumented immigrants who are worried and distrustful no matter how much local law enforcement want to encourage honest reporting for the greater good of society, then honest reporting will be ‘chilled’ by some non-zero amount and criminals will go unpunished. Law enforcement can’t choose to ignore their legal status unless someone is willing to come forward to report a crime to begin with. And the only complete ‘solution’ to encouraging honest reporting is to remove the source of the worry in the first place.

    “for example, a rape victim who is also an undocumented immigrant can go to the police, the police arrest the perpetrator, and instead of the victim being deported, the victim is actually rewarded for going to the police by being given the opportunity to obtain an actual visa so that she is no longer undocumented.”

    Which is great…but also still an example of selective enforcement that’s fundamentally “unfair” on some level. (Why should undocumented woman A be deported without an option to earn a visa somehow, while undocumented woman B gets to stay — woman A gets punished for NOT being raped, apparently?)

    I’m perfectly fine with tilting the system to be “unfair” towards rape victims instead of away from them but let’s just admit there are still trade-offs: we’re advocating for policies that encourage rape victims to come forward more often both for their benefit and for the greater good of removing violent criminals from society, but at the expense of increasing the inconsistency of Honor Code enforcement (punishing those who weren’t victims of violent crimes), and increasing (however vanishingly small and unlikely this probably is) the incentive for someone to claim rape as a ‘get out of jail free’ card. That seems “acceptably unfair” to me, in lieu of the alternatives.

  115. @Heather 2:16pm “…places where rape is more likely to happen”. Please, please understand that rape isn’t like going outside in January with wet hair. Rape isn’t something you catch. Your entire comment reads like bad satire, which I sincerely hope it is.

  116. Kangaroo says:

    I was offered a lecturing position at BYU some years ago, I am an Australian, so going into a ” highly romantic” closeted culture was a shock to me. The so called ” Honour Code” seemed to be more suited to a Communist resigm or ever a Mormon version of “Sharia Law”. Nevertheless I did not take the position…..

  117. It is probably because I am jaded and cynical, but whenever I hear the phrase “honor code,” what runs through my head is “honor killing.” “Honor” is the flip-side of “shame,” and cultures that value honor above all else almost always police it through shame.

  118. Re “appalled” — For many this is an old conversation (note the date 2011 in Michael Austin’s comment) and the conclusions are long since obvious. Been there. Done that. To the point where debate, even as simple as “there are trade-offs,” almost feels like an offense or an attack just talking. (I put myself in this camp, while trying to remain civil in this discussion.) But most of all, “appalling” applies to BYU coming to this in 2016, if in fact they are. (Not knowing BYU personnel or policies except indirectly and at a distance, I’m picturing the actions of whoever fessed up to the ‘no apology’ approach to the Honor Code as intentionally subversive.)

  119. KMB, try to hear what others have been saying repeatedly: we’re talking about information that only came to light because of the rape report. Do you hear this? Your hypothetical is thus irrelevant: “Why should undocumented woman A be deported without an option to earn a visa somehow, while undocumented woman B gets to stay — woman A gets punished for NOT being raped, apparently?”

    No. No. Listen: woman A happily lives her life as an undocumented immigrant because nobody ever finds out, because she doesn’t call attention to her status by reporting a rape.

  120. KH, sorry. You used a pretty strong word and I didn’t think it was warranted. It’s been a long day.

  121. ML,

    One reason may be that I believe that being raped, and then being disciplined for minor infractions because you reported being raped, is also a “true travesty.” If they best you can do is tell a woman who has been raped-and them expelled from BYU as a direct consequences of reporting it–is “at least you weren’t killed,” then you really don’t have much to say.

  122. Molly Bennion says:

    Steve, Michael, Christian, Kevin and others have ably made the case for no impediments to reporting. I add only my amen and a profound disappointment that a woman would agree to be the spokesperson for such an appalling policy. I’d be disappointed in anyone’s defense, but somehow it is especially bitter in the voice of a sister. Our ward is on Jacob 1-4 tomorrow and sexual assault is a manual topic; this issue should be part of the discussion.

  123. Actually, ml, Jax has literally proposed Honor Killings in response to a hypothetical rape of his daughter. Granted, a murder of the perp not the victim; but still, the core of the concept of honor killings is extrajudicial, out of control violence due to an affront to the manly honor of the head of household (it’s not on behalf of the victims–victims do not benefit from that kind of rage and violence). Jax is proposing that.

  124. I don’t really think anyone is actually interested in honor killings, whether it’s of the victims or the perpetrators. Let’s move along.

  125. I don’t.

  126. Kevin Barney says:

    Upthread I made the statement that you can’t transfer on a pulled ecclesiastical endorsement. I friend PM’d me to let me know that is not accurate. BYU won’t issue a *diploma* on a pulled ecclesiastical endorsement, but you can get a transcript and transfer.

    So the example I gave upthread is less extreme, but still a problem. The young woman can’t graduate from the Y, no matter how close she is. And when she transfers a lot of her credits (especially religion credits) won’t transfer, so if she was a semester away at the Y she might be a year or two away after transferring. It will still cost her time, money and headache, but not as much as i originally posited.

  127. Steve, I used a strong word because it accurately described my reaction to many of the comments. I’m appalled, as christiankimball stated, that this conversation is even still taking place. I’m appalled that it isn’t common knowledge at this point that victims need amnesty in order for justice to be served. I’m appalled that we still spend more time talking about the victim’s actions then we do about the rapist’s. Thank you for the apology for being flippant. Perhaps your next post could be a list of all the ways people can learn and volunteer in our community to help victims of rape, because it’s obvious from the comments that some community education is needed.

  128. You know what, that’s a very good idea. I really am sorry for being flippant. I thought (quite wrongly) that you were referring to my comments.

  129. BYU grad here.
    Take a step back and think about this generally. If someone does something bad (or even illegal) to you while you are doing something bad (or even illegal), you are still doing something bad (or even illegal). In any real-world examples that come to mind, the other person would not have done that thing to you had you NOT been breaking that law to interact with them in a certain way. Include ‘common sense’ as a ‘law’. It protects you and the people around you.

    There are, of course, many crimes that occur to truly innocent people who didn’t put themselves in harm’s way. These are not the cases in this article. In the specific scenarios mentioned in the article, rape or abuse is partially the consequence of breaking the rule in the first place. Remove mention of the natural consequences and any BYU student should think the academic penalty is perfectly fitting, according to the well-established honor code:

    “in your boyfriend’s bedroom” … “you’re in trouble”
    “drinking at a party” … “you’re in trouble”
    “fondling a partner” … “you’re in trouble”

    While I agree you shouldn’t blame a victim for the actions of the perpetrator, you SHOULD count it against a victim if they put themselves into a dangerous situation. Anyone knows the Honor Code Office wouldn’t consider any disciplinary action whatsoever against a person if that person were raped or assaulted while fully obeying the honor code. They aren’t penalizing blameless victims, they are penalizing people who clearly violated well-established rules (regardless if the person invited or tempted other consequences upon themselves in the process). Would you consider it inappropriate if the Honor Code Office punished someone for sexual misconduct, and also that person contracted an STD in the process? No, discipline would still be perfectly appropriate. They broke a rule, the very purpose of which was to prevent the more serious consequence in the first place.

    The “coordinate with the bishop of the student” part IS the Honor Code Office trying to get the victim the healing they need. Bishops can’t get people ‘in trouble’. Their role in this regard is to help people participate in the Atonement. This applies to both victims and perpetrators.

    Consider a very abstract example:
    It is the nature of some animals to bite. Eating, territoriality, etc are difficult instincts to overcome even for some domesticated animals. Some animals may even be intelligent enough to consciously choose to bite me for their own satisfaction. No matter how much freedom I have to stick my hand in the animal’s cage because I enjoy doing so, I have the power to prevent being bitten (999 times out of 1000) simply by following the posted ‘Don’t stick your hands in the cage!’ rule.

    It will never be possible to remove all those who might commit rape from the population. It IS possible to remove yourself from the vast majority of situations which facilitate rape, abuse, or simply inappropriate conduct. (This is true for both males and females). The honor code is designed to keep students out of such dangerous situations FOR THEIR OWN GOOD. Follow it. Appreciate it. Realize that it is there for your protection. If you violate it, be humble. Repent. Learn from your mistakes. The ranks of BYU leadership are filled with many people who understand the nature of repentance and forgiveness very well. “You’re in trouble” doesn’t mean ‘we hate you’, it means ‘we would like to teach you a valuable truth about life’. Learning valuable truths about life is the reason I went to college.

  130. ml, I think we can trust the accounts of the multiple women in attendance who have confirmed. (oh the irony of not trusting them!)

    BTW here’s a relevant news story of a charming sheriff in Idaho who thinks that “the majority of our rapes that are called in are actually consensual sex.” Foxes guarding the henhouse.

  131. Oh man, Ben, you are really in trouble.

  132. Oh, Ben. Wow. A couple specific things, out of many:

    “Anyone knows the Honor Code Office wouldn’t consider any disciplinary action whatsoever against a person if that person were raped or assaulted while fully obeying the honor code.”

    This is actually NOT true. By their own policy page description, and by the stories of many many women I’ve heard, they regularly investigate and punish rape victims because they don’t believe their stories that it was not consensual.

    “It IS possible to remove yourself from the vast majority of situations which facilitate rape, abuse, or simply inappropriate conduct.”

    This is outlandishly wishful thinking.

    Ben’s comment unwittingly makes a strong case for dramatically changing the policy and mandatory student education procedures around sexual assault at BYU. Maybe he is an outlier, but, If not, BYUs, current approach is clearly inadequate at helping its students understand the basic facts of how assault takes place.

  133. Thank you Ben for so perfectly mansplaining the first lesson of victim blaming 101. I especially love the part about “rapists gonna rape” and the complete lack of discussion about why rapists feel they can get away with raping.

    One thing that is missing from this conversation (I may have missed it) is the fact that many rapists are not one time offenders. Any obstacle to reporting a rape means a rapist is free to move on to their next victim, sometimes emboldened by the lack of consequences. There’s a reason why Amnesty laws are becoming the norm (not charging a minor for underage drinking if alcohol was involved in the rape for example). Minor infractions are not comparable to rape, and stopping rapists should be the goal. So let’s do everyone a favor and stop it with the crappy metaphors. Metaphors don’t stop rape any more than “not being in the wrong place at the wrong time” does.

  134. ml, try to relax. Some of your comments have been put into the mod queue. This is done in part to facilitate the overall conversation, which is not really about you. If you feel that’s too shameful to bear, ok. It’s the internet. It’s sort of how things go.

  135. FarSide says:

    At this point, the $64,000 question is: Will this go viral beyond the BCC community??

  136. Mike M. says:

    ML: You asked Kevin what policy he would suggest. One idea that comes to mind is to have the office that you can report rape to be completely sealed off from the honor code office. It’s investigative role would be completely limited to the perpetrator and not the victim; if it found out that the victim had broken the honor code in some way, it wouldn’t do anything with that information. And this firewall would need to be real. There couldn’t be any secret tips being passed back and forth.

  137. Why do we think that we are so morally superior to rape victims? Wasn’t there some recent conference talk about not judging a church leader by the worst thing he has ever done? Maybe some of these women were suffering depression or even suicidal before the rape occurred. In a moment of weakness they drank alcohol or went into a man’s bedroom? What gives us the right to force them to wear a “Scarlet A”?

  138. FarSide: when you consider that the expression comes from a 1955 game show, we’re talking $566,951.31 in 2016 dollars. That seemed far more important when I started googling it than it does now.

  139. FarSide says:

    Steve, since I am 63 years old, I trust you will forgive my anachronistic metaphors. But regardless of the dollar amount you settle upon, the cost to the institution—and I do not necessarily mean monetary cost—of bad publicity stemming from this event could be substantial. A wee bit more, perhaps, than having to explain why men at the university cannot wear a beard for religious reasons.

  140. Maybe so.

  141. Anonymous says:

    One partial solution: Project Callisto is designed to facilitate sexual assault reporting on campuses. Victims can upload information/evidence about their assault and have it time stamped. They can report it immediately, or they can use settings that only report the assault if the same perpetrator is named again by another victim. Since most rapes are repeat offenses, this helps to build a case against the perps while minimizing the exposure individual victims feel when people don’t believe them.

    This could be especially useful in an environment where victims are particularly afraid of coming forward, like BYU. Doesn’t exactly solve the Honor Code issue, but might give the victim some time to process things and a safer space to report.

  142. Military has some policies that are similarly appalling… Survivors who report rape can be charged with adultery if they are not believed. There are some documentaries that talk about this. Our society as a whole needs to do a lot more to protect survivors. It’s disappointing to see certain institutions that I would like to respect are dragging their feet.

    I’ll state up front that I think much of the BYU honor code should not be enforced, or even exist. But even if I did think that it should be enforced rigorously there is a legal concept that could protect people who report rape. When police obtain evidence illegally it cannot be used in court, nor can anything that is discovered as a result of the evidence. If prosecutors can convince the judge that the evidence would have legally been obtained anyway, or if it is legally discovered by someone else with no prior knowledge, then the evidence cam be used.

    Something similar could be done here. I’m not talking about legal/illegal evidence. The PD could withhold victims names from any reports to the honor code office. The HC office could have a policy of not using rape reports or subsequent investigations as evidence for disciplinary action. Yet disciplinary action could still happen if they find out some other way.

    It’s not perfect. I worry victims would still be afraid to report. But it would still be better than the current policy.

  143. I disagree, I don’t think anyone should get a pass on their agreement, breach of contract, which happens before the alleged crime.

  144. The more I read, the more sick to my stomach I get. The degree of misogyny is depressing to a degree that I can’t stand to read another comment.

  145. From the BYU Sexual Misconduct Policy:
    “Retaliation or intimidation against an individual who has made a Report or provided information in connection with an investigation of Sexual Misconduct is strictly prohibited. Retaliation is any adverse action taken against an individual because he or she has engaged in a legally protected action opposing Sexual Misconduct or participating in a Sexual Misconduct proceeding if the adverse action is reasonably likely to deter the person or others from pursuing their rights.”

    This is pretty much what I’d expect in a reasonable policy. It leaves me wondering what BYU actually does? The OP and a number of comments here relating personal experience at BYU are hard to square with this policy. I’m quoting from a March 2015 version. Maybe it’s new?

  146. Christensen says:

    To Kristen: her daughter would be attending BYU and wanted to know how to keep her safe.

    Send her somewhere else. If money is the reason your sending her to BYU, choose a state school and/or have her earn some of her credits at a junior college or community college. Or have her do alternate years of working full time and saving with full time enrollment at university. And there are low interest loans available to both students and their parents. University is expensive, no question, and BYU seems to provide quite a discount. But what price do you put on your daughter’s safety and well being? What is the cost of her being traumatized for the rest of her life, possibly never recovering vs what you save by sending her to BYU?

    Also, state schools have the advantage that they must comply with Title IX sexual assault laws and if they don’t can be reported to the Office of Civil Rights and risk losing their accreditation, federal funds, and ability to be a qualifying institution for guaranteed student loans. Failing compliance is a civil rights violation no different than not being allowed to vote or being denied your 2nd Amendment rights. Colleges will perform all manner of contortions to keep from losing their access to guaranteed student loans. See the story of Corinthian Colleges who closed completely recently for that.

    And if you are choosing BYU to protect her from “sinning” or so she will be in “a better environment,” there is just as much opportunity for both at BYU as at any other school, depending on the choices she wants to make. If she wants to get into trouble, she’ll find it. Conversely, if she is determined to live the Gospel, she will do that, regardless of what the people around her are doing. I completely agree with the posters who think BYU’s Honor Code infantilizes it’s students. You can’t expect adults to responsibly exercise their Free Agency if they aren’t given the opportunity to make decisions when they’re younger.

  147. I guess the argument would be that it’s not, strictly speaking, retaliatory. The honor code action does not occur because of the rape, but the drinking, etc.

  148. But “retaliatory” includes “reasonably likely to deter” and the possibility of honor code action seems to fit. Still puzzled . . .

  149. Jessica says:

    I agree with you, students living in a place where they are condemned and punished for being a victim is absolutely unacceptable. I do understand though where BYU is coming from. Not that they are handling the situation in a way that I agree with, but the idea is that if everyone follows the honor code- don’t go into each other’s bedrooms, don’t fondle each other, get home at a decent time, don’t get drunk, rape incidents would be SIGNIFICANTLY lower. However I think they are making a HUGE mistake with the uneven punishments. The victim should receive the consequences of her own actions- as she agreed to when when enrolled to BYU and signed a contract that she would abide by the honor code, and the perpetrator should be punished for his actions- breaking the honor code, and face legal charges for rape and/or abuse while BYU should protect the victim and do everything necessary to see justice. The problem is they’re doing an incomplete job. 😔

  150. It seems dishonest. The person that suggested that the right hand should not know what the left hand is doing… once you down the road of hiding truth, it never stops.

  151. Christian, the retaliatory action requires intent linked to the initial event. That’s the loophole.

  152. The problem with punishing the victims is that many of them are probably on the school insurance. If they are separated from the school, the likelihood that they will be able to receive treatment for their trauma is slim. So in addition to being assaulted, traumatized repeatedly to relive the assault/s by reporting them, potentially having wasted time in their education. . . Then they are unable to either afford the counseling/possible medications to treat the emotional damage from the trauma.
    Something is not right here. It is a major failure to care for a survivor whilst they are still in post-victim experiences.

  153. Excellent point and a very grounded consideration.

  154. Maybe the loophole someone’s arguing, but as stated the policy does not look to intent. Reasonably likely to deter the person reporting (OR OTHERS) is not the same as reasonably intended to deter.

  155. Is it an honor code violation to fail to report? So that one could argue that all students will report and nothing will deter them? Making the retaliatory clause a dead letter. (I’m stopping now. Must turn off for the night sometime.)

  156. anonymous says:

    M said, “I can also imagine predators employing “Honor Code blackmail,” deliberately maneuvering targets into compromising positions prior to attacks.”

    Toss in blackmailed coercion for additional sexual favors and you have a relative’s BYU nightmare.

  157. You violated the code of conduct. Is it fair of you to not get punished for violation of this code of conduct because of the circumstance? What about the others who get punished for violation of the code when not having a sexual assault to report?

    How does one balance this challenge and make it “fair”.

    I like to think of this on these terms.

    Say I am a drug dealer. Someone breaks into my home. I call the police to report it. When they arrive I invite them in with drugs out in the open. I am in clear violation of the law. I am a victim who will be punished for selling drugs. Should the police suspend the law because of my home was burglarized?

  158. Sick of Internalized Misogyny says:

    TW: going to describe a rape situation.

    I am going to disagree with something said by Jessica: if there were no honor code violations rape numbers would go down. Rape incidences are high and stable in all communities. Women can be fully clothed, fully modest, sober as anything, and still be assaulted, harassed raped, and often are. They are on dates with temple recommend wielding men doing nothing wrong and are raped. There is no statistic that supports your victim blaming. If I am naked and passed out and a Mormon dude finds me, if he rapes me, it is because he is a sick, sinful, piece of shit. I did not ask for it. A good person would have grabbed a blanket, an overcoat, and called a friend or ambulance. Even if I am in a dangerous vulnerable situation, it should technically incentive exactly zero “righteous young men” to rape me. So, fully clothed, naked, keeping HC, or struggling, the rapist is 105% at fault. There is no excuse under the sun that made it “understandable.” “Well, you see HC officer, she was naked. And passed out, and so I whipped out my genitals and put them in her. It was her fault!” It’s insane, and yet that is what you are saying but implying that “if only women had just done what they were supposed to…” no. no no no no. Each and ever time a woman is raped, or heck, a man is raped, it is the rapists fault end of story.

  159. Christian, the policy also specifically says that violations that come up in the circumstances of the incident “will be investigated.” That sounds sinister and risky if you’re reading that policy as a victim wondering if you should report.

    C’mon people, walk in somebody else’s shoes here. Think about how this feels for a victim.

    You’re dealing with the emotional trauma of this, doctor’s appointments, modifying your routines and schedule to go out of your way to avoid contact with your rapist, trying to manage interactions with mutual friends to protect your dignity and privacy, in short, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Now you’ve also got essays, problem sets, midterms, your part-time job, your church calling–you know, all the things that usually keep students without such trauma busy up to their eyeballs and running around on little sleep. Are you really going to say, “Hey, you know what else I need on my plate? The strong possibility of an Honor Code investigation into whether I should be expelled.”

    Maybe you’re just focused on containing the negative impacts. Maybe you don’t want to rapist’s damage inflicted on your life to be limited to a bunch of just-in-case preventative STD treatments and months of waking up in the night with nightmares, and not also include failed classes. And so to minimize that chance you need to really focus. Maybe you (VERY justifiably) don’t trust investigators not to start blaming the rape itself on you and saying you’re a liar. Maybe you’ve heard, as I have, of many many stories of BYU students being told not to take the sacrament for a few months by their bishop after telling him you were raped, or being investigated and/or put on probation by the honor code office, or even having to leave BYU.

    How eager to report are you?

  160. Sick of Internalized Misogyny says:

    Sorry for language. This subject is VERY HURTFUL. And people trying so so hard to find ways to justify why a man must have thought that it was ok, or why it is good to punish the woman for somehow causing the rape is rape culture. And seeing so many women and men here are part of it, upholding rape culture, finding reasons for it is so triggering and horrible.

    The comments saying over and over “I believe rapists should be punished. But, the woman who was raped, well, she had her part to play too” make me so sad.

    Still, I should have used a milder word in this forum out of respect for the blog. I apologize.

  161. Amen, Sick of Internalized Misogyny! <3 <3

  162. kp, you know what’s another example similar to your burglary example? Alan Turing, one of the greatest geniuses of all time, the man who invented modern computers and artificial intelligence. The British government effectively killed him as punishment for something they learned about him in the course of investigating a burglary at his house. They learned he was gay. And that was illegal. And somehow they thought that was more important to prosecute than the burglary.

  163. Agreed.

  164. Has anyone even attempted to verify this nonsense with the BYU police? Because I guarantee it is not true that they give this information to the HC office. The HC office can grama request it, like anybody else, but they just get a redacted copy, like anybody else.

    Call the BYUPD before you get all excited about this. 801 422 2222. 24/7. Ask for the PIO. The supposed HC person was talking through their hat. There is no running to the HC office by the PD. You’ve all been had.

  165. Jane Smith says:

    From BYU’s Sexual Misconduct Policy

    4. Victims of Sexual Misconduct

    In order to protect their own and others’ safety, individuals who believe they have been subjected to Sexual Misconduct should make a report even if they have simultaneously been involved in other violations of university policy, such as use of alcohol or drugs. Violations of university policy or the Church Educational System Honor Code do not make a victim at fault for sexual violence or other forms of Sexual Misconduct and will be addressed separately from the Sexual Misconduct allegation.

    I think this is pretty clear that if you were in violation of any other Honor Code requirement, it will be addressed and investigated. This leaves the rape victim open to interrogation by honor code officials. This is a huge deterrent to reporting. Much of the Honor Code Policy reminds of the book Freakonomics. The consequences of violating any Honor Code Policy can be so high, fear takes over and there is great incentive to lie and hide the indiscretion. In this case, the victim will be too afraid to report. From my own personal experience based on being falsely accused of wearing short shorts on campus (I know a heinous crime), the honor code personnel treat the accused in a demeaning, guilty until proven innocent manner. I had never before experienced being spoken to in such a condescending manner.

  166. [Can’t sleep; annoyed by my own rhetorical cuteness; trying to be direct]
    Q: What should BYU do? What should the policy be?
    A: Follow the BYU Sexual Misconduct Policy. It’s already there in black-and-white. 
    And to be clear, any Honor Code action (discipline, investigation, hearing, questioning) of a reporting person (victim) that victims individually and collectively reasonably believe is tied to or a consequence of reporting a sexual assault is a violation of that policy.  Don’t do it. 

  167. Jane Smith 12:51 am: I didn’t see your post when I just posted. My response to your post is “read on” to the Retaliation section. An Honor Code investigation is not consistent with the Retaliation policy, for reasons you give. It may well be that BYU is currently retaliating (by using the honor code) in violation of its own policy. That should stop. (“Retaliating” is not the common street sense of “getting back at” someone. Retaliating is making victims reluctant to report.)

  168. Sean Lindsay says:


    “Retaliation is any adverse action taken against an individual *****because****** he or she has engaged in a legally protected action opposing Sexual Misconduct or participating in a Sexual Misconduct proceeding if the adverse action is reasonably likely to deter the person or others from pursuing their rights.”

    A so-minded interpreter of this provision could conclude that it calls for a subjective assessment of why the action is being taken — what the motivation is for the action that might be deemed retaliation. If it’s merely to uphold the schools HC standards, then it wouldn’t be “because he or she has engaged in a legally protected action….”

    “Similarly, intimidation is any adverse action or threat of action reasonably likely to prevent or dissuade an individual from making a Report or providing information in connection with a Sexual Misconduct investigation.”

    Our so-minded interpreter parses this provision and notes that since students are already obligated and have agreed and presumably are complying with the requirement to self-report their own violations of the HC, the consequence of such disclosure arising as a result of reporting a sexual assault is not reasonably likely to deter anyone from reporting.

    More, wouldn’t your charitable reading of the “violations…will be addressed separately…” language actually render its application a null set?

    And in re: your prior response, one of the reasons I’m “out” about the event in my life is a recognition that it might be a step toward normalizing rape as a crime, rather than a moral failing of the raped.

  169. Christensen says:

    While all the discussion of what the Honor Code should be, how it should work, what changes, if any should be made is interesting and needs to be done, it is also academic. It seems like a fundamental issue has been forgotten; that is, what needs to be done right now, immediately, to make the women of BYU safer from sexual assault.

    It’s safe to say that any institutional change will take a very long time and be slow and incremental, if change happens at all.

    In the meantime, thousands of young women (yes, men can be raped too and the very large majority of victims are female) are at risk of being preyed upon each year. If one of those young women who are raped were your own daughter, how would you feel knowing you knowingly sent her into danger and into an environment that strongly discourages reporting and stopping sexual assaults? How would she feel if she knew you had known about the problem and had done nothing to change it except lots of discussion on a website?

    If I were you’re daughter, in this example, I’m not sure I would ever be able to move past it to continue to have any relationship with my parents.

  170. Sean (and Steve earlier)–If you twist the language as lawyers do sometimes you can make loopholes. I agree. I am reasonably well practiced at the art. In this case your loophole is against the spirit of the language and, in my humble judgment, against the language meaning your wresting would lose if I were judge. But mostly I’m saying don’t do that. In response to anyone who asks “so what should BYU do” my answer is follow the policy, don’t retaliate, and that means drop the honor code stuff in any way that victims perceive as connected. BYU has a pretty well crafted policy. Use it. Use it right.

  171. Christian, I promise it’s not twisting the words!

  172. Which is saying that a not irrational BYU administrator will see it your way. Maybe so (however wrongly in my opinion), so tell him or her “don’t do that”!
    The OP and about half of the comments here make it clear that we all think honor code concerns have a deterrent effect on reporting. That’s really all you need to find “retaliation” as defined.

  173. 1,000 times YES – Sick of Internalized Misogyny. A lot of these comments go to show just how unprogressive the “progressive” Mormon community is.

  174. charles johnson says:

    Maybe we need to finally come to the realization that not all Honor Code violations result in the punishment of being expelled from school. Just because those are the only ones we ever hear about doesn’t mean that is the only course of action taken by the Honor Code office.

    In the case where the victim broke a less serious part of the Honor Code than the perpetrator, I don’t understand the logic of why the victim deserves a free pass because someone else committed a worse act.

    If I get a ticket for speeding, I am guilty for that crime, and that doesn’t change if the driver next to me was speeding and had an open container of alcohol and didn’t have his seat belt on. His punishment will be worse, but if the officer still decides to ticket me for speeding I have to pay the consequences for my choices.

  175. I would appreciate to see a transcript of the read statement.

    Although logically I can understand that one could separate the incidences and treat each honor code violation as a distinct thing and just not tolerate violations. I appreciate the environment of having to go look for bad instead of having it in your face. I really valued that at BYU. We can even think there is no blame intended on the victim for their violations. The whole process can be done totally compassionately and sensitively.


    The uniquely personal and horrific nature of rape demands more thoughtfulness. Victim shielding should be basic. The nature of the crime demands it. The victim needs healing and comfort and security.

    We say we don’t rate sin and some are not worse than others…but that is CLEARLY not true. drinking vodka and gang rape aren’t in the same solar system. You can drink vodka and be a great person. Same is just not at all humanly possible with gang rape. or rape.

    shield the victim. get them the help and counseling they need and don’t apologize for it.

  176. That $64,000 answer says:

    Catholic here, and first time posting on an LDS website (which should answer FarSide’s question about this going viral).

    BYU is refusing to learn from…I won’t say our “mistakes,” because what we did was worse than that. We chose evil, repeatedly, because it was administratively convenient and relieved us of the obligation of binding up the wounds of the victims. We found elaborate theological arguments for that self-serving stance, of course, just as BYU is now doing. But that’s what it boiled down to.

    And eventually it blew up in our faces, which personally I see as the work of the Holy Spirit in action. It will do precisely the same for you, and for precisely the same reasons, if you remain on this road.

    Many of the comments here seem to assume that BYU will be allowed to go on in applying this reprehensible policy, regardless of the tally of ruined lives it leaves in its wake. That is naive. At some point the state, and the civil courts, will intervene. When a religious entity is operating a policy that shocks the conscience of reasonable people, civil authorities will step in, as will juries. They won’t give two hoots what the Word of Wisdom, or the Code of Canon Law, has to say about the matter. They will do what they consider to be justice, and will be supported by the great majority of public opinion in so doing. And if they bankrupt your universities, or the Corporation of the President, or the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop, in so doing, they will shed not a single tear.

    You can do the right thing because it’s right. Or you can do it because you’ll be put out of business if you don’t. You’re aware of the choice we made. How are you going to choose?

  177. Christensen,

    “Also, state schools have the advantage that they must comply with Title IX sexual assault laws and if they don’t can be reported to the Office of Civil Rights and risk losing their accreditation, federal funds, and ability to be a qualifying institution for guaranteed student loans. Failing compliance is a civil rights violation no different than not being allowed to vote or being denied your 2nd Amendment rights”.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that BYU is under the same obligation to comply with Title 1X sexual assault laws as any state school. BYU has a web page regarding Title 1X.

    We live in the state of VA and our state schools have had serious complaints and lawsuits filed over failing to adequately respond to claims of sexual assault. So, I’m not sure that sending my daughter to a state school solves anything or ensures her safety. The problem we’re talking about here is not unique to BYU, it is a problem on all this country’s campuses. My daughter has specific reasons for wanting to go to BYU which have nothing to do with cost or the environment. It’s just a sad truth that it is dangerous to be a woman no matter where you are.

  178. Imagine that, you break a rule (that you agreed to BEFORE starting school there) and you get punished for it. It kind of makes sense.

  179. I do know for a fact that the BYU counseling center does not report to the honor code office. No matter what. Why not do the same for sexual assault?

  180. Even if there were honor code violations, I can’t even begin to understand the level of inhumanity that would think this is an opportune time to enforce consequences. Do they really believe the victim won’t be tormented for life with questions of guilt-whether they were breaking any rules or not? Talk about missing the mark in the most egregious way possible in looking to the letter of the law. Making the honor code even relevant in a rape case trivializes the violence of the act and feeds the idea that the victim bears some responsibility. Regardless of what BYU thinks, the implied question of this policy is, “What did you do to deserve this?” This question needs to be erased completely from our culture and from humanity in general, because the answer is ALWAYS “Nothing.”

  181. I see no reason to do away with the honor code. It defines responsibilities for each student. If the honor code says not to enter a male students bed room and she does anyway then she will have violated the code. If this is behavior she chooses to continue then she can go to any one of thousands of schools that laugh at the honor code. However if she is raped he should be charged both by the school and expelled, (which a lot of schools do not do), and he should feel the full extent of the law. I am having a real problem with all these anti-honor code opinions. She didn’t ask for the rape, she isn’t guilty of rape or breaking the law of chastity, she is just guilty of breaking the honor code. Asking her to honor the code to which she is agreed is not reprehensible, nor unreasonable. After several assaults in my early life, none of which resulted in rape, I would do anything to have go back and remove myself from those environments in which I had been assaulted. Although I was not raped it was traumatic for years after the assault and I can only imagine rape would have made the pain deeper and last longer. Learning not to be a victim is more empowering than almost anything you can name. The honor code helps women think about situations that can result in negative consequences. If they are naive, or reject the notion that it can happen to them they are not not asking to be raped, so don’t twist my words. However, teaching them to consider all options of a behavior or environment as young women is not a bad thing. It may save their life down the road.

  182. The Code is designed in such a way that if a person follows it they will almost never find themselves in a situation where sexual abuse/aggression can happen. In those rare instances where following the Code “fails,” it is discovered in the review process and the student is not penalized. The Code is no different than the laws we follow (a set of rules and guidelines we agree to live by and are willing to accept the consequence for not following those rules). Here are a few examples: A person speeding through a green light hits a person running a red light, they both receive a ticket. Both didn’t follow the laws/code of driving and are both responsible. Someone trespassing in an area with posted no trespassing signs gets hurt and has to go to the hospital, in addition to their hospital bill, is subject to the laws regarding tresspassing. Maybe try and understand something and look at it from more than emotional perspective? You’ll be better off as a person.

  183. Wow! I still can’t believe how many people think that rape victims can stop a rape by following the Honor Code. It is no magic bullet. When I was raped I was 15, and was not in violation of any part of the BYU Honor Code at any time leading up to it.

    (Kissing my rapist 2 hours earlier was still used to slut shame me by my bishop, and I was stripped of my calling and the right to take the sacrament because of “my choice” to engage in that kiss.) The reality is that because of the way my bishop handled it, which he told me later was based on how he had seen cases handled as a student at BYU, absolutely pushed me not to report the rape to the police, or even my parents.

    I am now in the process of gathering stories about rape on campus at a state University outside of Utah, and writing about the expected Title IX settlement that is likely to come down after the investigation into the illegal way that rape victims have been treated.

    So, for everyone who says, “Tell me what we should do differently,” I have a very simple answer. Stop using the Honor Code as a way to get out of the requirements of the new Title IX requirements. It means that the school will also have to protect LGBT students, and that a person who is assaulted in any way will need to be helped, whether they remain BYU students after the incident or not. BYU would not be able to hide behind the Honor Code as a way to keep reporting statistics down, and they would have to treat victims as victims.

  184. Sheila ,

    I couldn’t agree more ,

    Your common sense and well thought out response is appreciated and valued thanks for posting.

  185. @Jake 9:13

    In your speeding vs. running a red light analogy, which one is the rapist and which one is the victim who was merely in her boyfriend’s bedroom after curfew? Your analogy uses two minor traffic violations that are similar in (lack of) severity. Do you think that being in a boyfriend’s bedroom is similar in severity to raping someone?

    Here’s a better analogy: You are driving a car with your best friend in it. You are going 3 miles over the speed limit. A drunk driver who is being chased by police for armed robbery of a liquor store goes through a red light at 110 mph and plows into your car, killing your best friend. When the paramedics pull you out of the car and are bandaging your wounds preparing you to go to the hospital, a police offer comes over (while you’re still lying on the ground covered in your friend’s blood) and asks if you were breaking any laws before the accident. You confess to the 3 mph speeding violation. He then writes you a ticket for speeding and reckless endangerment and comments that if you had be following the law perfectly your friend would still be alive. He tells you it’s partly your fault your friend is dead and hopes that you have learned your lesson.

    I think that is a more apt analogy.

  186. While Sydney and Sheila and Jake and others continue to pat themselves vigorously on the back for having solved the problems of sin and crime, how do you defenders of the status quo reconcile the danger that adhering to that simplistic viewpoint (“if I am a good person and follow the rules bad things will not happen to me, and if something bad happens to someone it was must have been his or her fault”) may very well put young women (and some young men) at immediate and continuing risk?

    How about the problem that if the university continues to practice a system that puts malum prohibitum on the same level as malum in se in the minds of the students, and if the ongoing effect is the protection and shielding of rapists, do you care that the institution could be in violation of federal law? Is the honor code more important to you than the protection of young women, the criminal prosecution of rapists, and the healing of rape victims?

  187. If I can help with some information as far as reporting to HC (whether or not it happens seems to be questioned), all campus assaults must, by law, be reported to the Title IX office. The BYU Title IX office reports any honor code violations to the Honor Code office (I believe it was the Title IX representative who made the initial statements confirming they report which resulted in the OP. Others in attendance, not just in this feed, have verified the statements. My information that verifies this policy comes from trainings I have received taught by police officers and victim advocates). It’s this second round of reporting between Title IX and the honor code department that is so disturbing and that would have a negative effect on a victim’s reporting. Someone mentioned above that the counseling center has a policy of holding information confidential and does not share with HC. This is vital in creating a safe space for people to receive the help they need. The Title IX department, if they want to avoid lawsuits, needs to have a similar policy.

  188. I would just like to pipe in that this does seem a bit concerning. However, I initially took the approach that BYU will involve the Honor Code Office on behalf of the aggressor, not the victim. This post does raise a good point, though.

    I would like the add the following: when I was at BYU only a couple of years ago, I had a friend (female) who invited a guy into her room. Unwanted advances occurred, harassment, etc. However, rape did not occur (thankfully). The girl reported him to the Honor Code Office, and he was duly punished (though not expelled). Nothing happened to her, despite the fact she allowed him into her room (which is against the Honor Code).

    Though this is only one example, it leads me to believe (trust, hope, whatever, etc.) that BYU does have student’s best interest in mind. Again, I think this post brings a valid point, but there is a lot of extrapolation going on here.

  189. ml, that happens as well, although it’s not policy (that I know of). It’s more a case of eager police officers wanting to make sure every infraction is met with justice. It’s also one of many ways people put the institution ahead of the victim which is the crux of all the title IX lawsuits schools are facing across the nation. Because what school wants high reporting rates of sexual assault? It’s not very good for your image.

  190. Jake,

    “The Code is designed in such a way that if a person follows it they will almost never find themselves in a situation where sexual abuse/aggression can happen.”

    This is NOT true. This is false. And by promulgating this mistaken notion, you are damaging past victims and creating more fertile soil for future problems.

  191. John Perry says:

    Not a full answer to your question, but there is this:

  192. Hey, could someone help me find some hot takes from people who will, by virtue of their gender, probably never be raped or affected by rape reporting policies about how byu’s policies are totally appropriate?

  193. ml, you’re getting to the heart of it: “Reporting is a mess”. There are so many disincentives in place that a majority of sexual assaults aren’t ever reported.

    Utah has a higher rate of sexual violence, 1 in 3 women experience it, than the national average of 1 in 5. You can start on the state’s website: There’s a list on the side of other places you can get information. is always a good resource

    As far as colleges alone you could start here:
    They have a tool for analyzing Clery Act data by school.

    These are just off the top of my head so if anyone else has information please share it.

  194. I think a key takeaway, especially considering the article John Perry just shared, is that just because a school has low (or zero) reports of sexual assault does not mean assaults don’t occur, it just means they are not being reported. The focus needs to be on why.

  195. I was a student member of the HC office’s predecessor when it was established in the early 1970s.

    The HC office is firmly anchored in 1950s western US with respect to sexual assault: she must’ve asked for it, or was doing something else she ought not have been doing. Because Eve. Because temptress. Because the poor boy’s matriculation will be affected.

    More cynically: boys are more important than girls. If they graduate, they will earn greater salaries than girls. And pay more tithing.

  196. John Perry says:

    Of course assaults occur and don’t get reported. This is a nationwide phenomenon not just a BYU phenomenon.

  197. Scott B. FTW.

  198. This is disgusting. As a lifetime member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and a woman who believes and loves her religion, I can boldly state that this is NOT our religion. This is NOT a reflection of the principals taught or embraced by our beautiful gospel. Our gospel teaches about the sacred and precious nature of women and men alike. Not this demeaning and shameful practice. It’s unfortunate that this school law that is no hateful and intolerant and shaming is attached to the name of a prophet and a religion that promotes love and peace.

  199. @ Jesse 9:57
    It doesn’t matter who is who in my analogy. If you can remove the emotion and look at the issue, both people in my analogy are in the wrong, one for speeding and the other for running a red light. And if the Code says to not be in your significant other’s bedroom after curfew then you leave. It is that simple. I’m sure you feel your analogy is more apt, you added emotion to it, that’s fine, the principle doesn’t change though, both people were in the wrong (be it a minor or major violation) and both are subject to the consequences of their actions. To agree with the end of your analogy, yes, during the investigation of the crash an officer will ask about your behavior that may have played a role in the outcome and at the officer’s discretion (like the board at the school) you may or may not be penalized for your disregard of the law/code. Why is that so hard to understand? Personal responsibility, it’s not new and it isn’t that hard of a concept (especially for a dang Mormon).

    @A#4 10:08
    I’m not claiming to have solved any problem. I am saying that there are preventative steps people can take (like following the Code or the law or the etc.) that can reduce the probability of a negative outcome, regardless of what the topic is. If you had read what I wrote and critically thought about it rather than emotionally responded to it, you would have understood that. And yes, sometimes bad things happen to good people, that’s life. IMO it is all about reducing the probability of negative outcomes and increasing the probability of positive outcomes. So if students adhere to the Code with regards to 1) drug/alcohol use, 2) curfew, and 3) housing rules they greatly increase their probabilities of positive outcomes while minimizing negative outcomes. Simple math, sometimes referred to as Hedonistic Calculus, that we have been doing since we were little kids.

    @Cynthia L. 12:03
    It is true though. That’s why we have rules, regulations, laws, codes, etc, because they decrease the probability of a negative outcome. If you quit being so emotional and look at it from a mathematical perspective you will see that. Also, if you actually read for understanding rather than reading for reaction, you would have been like “Oh, that part where he says ‘almost never’ means there are instances of where crap happens regardless of following the rules.” It is 100% possible that in the middle of class one student could sexually assault another; however, the probability of it is low. Each time a student disregards the Code they increase their probability for a negative outcome (whatever it may be).

    A few other things to note:

    1) Steve used a manipulative writing style that is very common in today’s politics and clickbait practices. You as readers are presented partial information framed in a way to get an emotional response (which it does a very good job of, so props to you Steve). This increases the reader’s emotional response, creates an emotional connection/bond with the idea/writer/company, and increases the number of people who read this junk (junk referring to the style, not content), making it more profitable for the writer and company. I encourage each of you to look up the BYU code and gain an understanding of it because you will be better informed and less manipulated by the writing styles that are designed to get the biggest bang for their buck. Then when you read other junk online, you can do the same thing (especially anything I state).

    2) It seems like the overall thought here is “BYU is punishing the victims and that isn’t right.” This thought is wrong. The school is punishing individuals who broke a written and signed contract. Is there this much outrage when a bank forecloses on a home, forcing a family with little children out into the streets or do we say “Well maybe you should have lived within your means?” If the Code is too hard or harsh for your lifestyle then don’t enter into the contract and go to a different school. It’s that simple. That’s a main reason why I didn’t go to BYU, I disagreed with the Code.

    3) Remove the emotion and look at things objectively.

  200. “If you quit being so emotional and look at it from a mathematical perspective you will see that”

    Holy cow.

    Goodbye Jake. You are in the wrong place.

  201. John Perry says:

    My experiences and observations mirror those of Jax above at 10:26.

    I also know that BYU has an extremely low tolerance for assault of any type against women. I have someone close to me who was expelled from BYU because a female (non BYU student) accused him of threatening assault against her (he didn’t).

    Let’s also dispel the notion that a student will be expelled for a first time HC offense. As a freshman I was summoned to the HC office, was guilty in their eyes of the grooming violation proposed, corrected the problem, and received no punishment.

    Like Jax, I think BYU is far from perfect, but generally has the students’ best interest in mind.

  202. ML – Madison does not claim to be “the Lord’s University,” nor is it subsidized by the widow’s mite of tithing.

    We should absolutely expect better of BYU.

  203. James Stewart says:

    As Elder Oaks says, the church doesn’t “seek apologies,” “and we don’t give them.”

    The honor code is an extension of the Church’s theology. I don’t think it is honest to try to discuss them as two separate entities. While it may not have been the intention of the author to indict the theology or as he says, “into passing judgment on the beliefs of the Church,” it is naive to believe you can discuss them completely separately.

    This is an example, in my opinion, of the subtle yet disturbing and perverse state of affairs of BYU’s, and the Mormon Church’s, views on gender roles and sexuality.

  204. Jason K. says:

    It’s actually kind of hilarious that someone told Cynthia to think more mathematically. Jeez.

  205. re: Jake, emotions, and “mathematical perspectives”

    While I agree that often emotion will cloud reasonable judgement and we should be wary of that, Jake is conflating “being emotional” with “being compassionate towards a human being.” We are NOT machines, but children of God with hearts and souls given to us to use for divine purposes, the greatest of which is love (the two greatest commandments). A pedantic and mathematical perspective towards rules, laws, and commandments is exactly what the new covenant of Christ’s atonement abolished and replaced with love and mercy. Christ’s teachings and actions all exemplify this. The Christ I know would tightly embrace the victim of rape, weeping with him or her, and not think at all about the honor code. However, I imagine He might have some stern looks and maybe even sterner words for those who focused on the victim’s very minor shortcomings in a situation where the victim’s human and divine dignity has been grossly violated. That would be the Christ I know from the scriptures. The parallels to His actions during His earthly ministry are obvious.

  206. You picked the wrong person to have this fight with, Jake. Hint: next time pick someone who doesn’t teach university classes in probability for a living.

    It is absolutely not true that someone obeying the honor code will “almost never” be in a situation for abuse or assault. Does it somewhat lower the chances? Sure. But that’s not what you said. And the distance between the two is *critical* to appreciate, so it’s not just some nitpicking of words.

    You are dangerously ignorant on this topic.

  207. Ok so, here’s the crux of the argument – “The problems with this approach are clear. These rules discourage the reporting of sexual abuse and shield the perpetrators. Victims are shamed into silence. In their very moment of spiritual and physical pain, the Honor Code serves to heap additional guilt upon their heads. They are perhaps left with the implication that they deserved their attack. And if nothing is reported, the greater sin of sexual violence goes unpunished. The veneer of righteousness presented by the Honor Code is preserved and the sepulchre is kept white.”

    So, here’s what the author doesn’t understand- justice. That’s not how justice works.

    Let’s say a BYU girl goes to a party, gets drunk and then gets raped. I totally get it- the girl is at her lowest, she is suffering indescribable shame and fear. Getting drunk pales in comparison to a rape, they’re not even in the same league. Now the girl is hesitant to report the rape because she is afraid her student status will get called into question because she got drunk. Supposedly this means we’re not supporting her. But that’s just simply not true. I don’t know how we got to this view of things in our culture- selective justice, moral subjectivity, etc. but we’re definitely there and it’s how a lot of people think. Actions have consequences. It’s pretty simple- if you don’t want issues with the honor code, then obey it. The honor code only becomes the “veneer” described if they did what the author proposes.

    BYU is doing nothing more or less then asking their students to honor their word. Every BYU student has to sign the honor code to be a student. No one is required to come to BYU. They chose that. Daniel has a good point- I doubt the girl that got drunk is going to get kicked out of school. Yes, there will be consequences but that’s how it SHOULD be. That’s the nature of actions and consequences. We can’t and shouldn’t have moral ambiguity and selective application of justice because of awful circumstance, in fact, I would argue that’s when it’s needed most.

  208. I’m pretty sure I understand justice. The Honor Code is not a law. It is not a divine command. It is an individual responsibility. It does not exist for purposes of distributive justice. That’s a fundamental misunderstanding of its purpose. It has absolutely nothing to do with justice in either a divine or man-made sense. Justice is not robbed if an honor code is not enforced against a rape victim. To suggest that somehow society or God is offended if we don’t crack down on a rape victim who’s been drinking is wrong-headed and shows a desire to punish instead of to succor. God have mercy. Seriously.

  209. PS – you don’t “totally get it”. Not at all.

  210. What I meant by “I totally get it” is that I understand the author’s point, but thanks for taking that out of context. The Honor Code is the “law” of BYU. So, forgive me if I am missing something but here’s what I see as I read through the write up of that meeting- BYU is asking rape victims to give a full accounting of what happened so that all details are known and all are held accountable. Which seems like common sense to me. If I am a school administrator than I absolutely want to know what factors might have contributed to a rape to improve the honor code to lower the risk of such things happening in the future. Also, we can’t ask for justice and hope that it be applied to certain parties. That’s not justice.

    Let’s give another example. I’m speeding down the highway and somebody in a field decides to randomly shoot at my car. They do so and hit my door and nails me in the leg. Now of course the shooter he committed a major crime, but I was speeding. When I admit that I was doing so, the state writes me a ticket. Are they blaming me for the shooting? No, they’re not. And the shooter should go to jail for attempted homicide. The state should apply justice equally to all. Also, the state should probably do some investigation to see if shootings and speeding are at all related to better improve rules, laws, enforcement, etc. is there something that I’m missing?

  211. And Steve, what does succor mean? Does that mean we don’t investigate and we don’t learn as much as we can? We just hear the accusation, slap the cuffs on the accused and hug her? What in my answer led you to believe that I don’t think we should support a rape victim? I’m not saying we ignore campus rape, or not help the girl in every way we can- quite the opposite. I say that we make it as public of a discourse as possible and hear these girls stories all the way through. And yes, they should be held accountable for any mistakes they made as well. As I mentioned in my example- I would get plenty of support as a shooting victim. I can tell my story and we can hang it up as an example of repsonsible gun handling and ownership, etc. but I should still receive a speeding ticket.

  212. Yes. You are missing everything. Absolutely everything.

  213. NOTE: Jax above at 10:26 is not the same Jax who was chiming in early about military, handling matter himself, and defending the BYU position that they were NOT punishing the victim because of the rape. I didn’t attend BYU.

  214. You went to hyperbole pretty quick there. Tough one

  215. I wish I were being hyperbolic. I really do. Andrew, seriously I think you are absolutely missing everything.


  217. Good grief. The fruits of our culture, laid bare.

  218. “If I am a school administrator than I absolutely want to know what factors might have contributed to a rape to improve the honor code to lower the risk of such things happening in the future.”

    Let me name the biggest single factor contributing to rape–having rapists around. Want to get them sent to jail so there are less rapes? Make it easier, not harder, for victims to report rape. Any mistaken attempt at “justice” due to honor code violations the victim may have committed prior to the rape leads to disincentives to reporting the rape, which leads to less reporting, which leads to more rapists out of jail, which leads to more rape.

    I get that there’s a certain percentage of the population that wants to make sure everyone, including victims of horrid crimes, gets punished for whatever they did wrong prior to becoming a victim. Whether it be prisoners of war who were tortured and held captive for years, or victims of rape, or whatever else, if they slipped up prior to becoming a victim, these idiots want to heap even more pain and hurt and shame on them. It’s the mindset of someone who believes they understand justice, but has absolutely no concept of mercy.

  219. Justice is necessary, of course. But thanks be to God that mercy is triumphant in the divine plan. And let’s not forget this:

    For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

    For our own sakes, let’s all jump on the mercy bandwagon so that when we stand before the Lord it is with mercy He judges us, not with justice. Because if we are judged by justice, we are ALL lost. All of us, especially advocates of justice over mercy, shouldn’t forget this. So yes, the victim was in the bedroom of a member of the opposite sex, which is against the honor code (but not against any commandment). What is so hard about choosing mercy over “honor code justice” for such a slight infraction, given the incredibly traumatic experience she or he has just been through?

    The analogies given have not taken into account what rape is like. It is not like running a red light. It is not like getting randomly shot in the leg. So I’m with Jessie (great name, btw!). No more analogies. And let’s talk about mercy instead of justice. God knows (literally) that we all need mercy, and we need MUCH more mercy than we think we do.

  220. Alec Joseph Harding says:

    I speak in defence of the Honor Code. When I came to BYU, I promised to live the Honor Code and acknowledged the preset consequences of violating the Honor Code. If I willingly put myself in an adverse situation contrary to Honor Code, examples of which were given in the article, and am subsequently raped, I’m still at fault for breaking my promise to keep the Code. Yes, I need all the love and compassion to recover from the traumatic event. Yes, my assailant needs to be brought to justice. But the fact remains I broke my promise to the University and am subject to the consequences thereof as agreed to in the beginning.

    Shaming things like that is a fault of individuals that needs to be corrected. The fault is not the system.

  221. Alec, the fault most definitely IS the system. Don’t throw yourself on an altar that needs no sacrifice.

  222. This thread has made me reflect *a lot*, including on some things I probably would have said (and maybe did?) when I was at BYU 25 years ago. I recognize the focus on rules, and the embedded assumption that when the rules are lined up we can somehow have justice. Thanks to @Sean for sharing his story, and thanks to @Cynthia and so many others for their patience in trying to show here how misguided that form of thinking can be, and how hurtful.

  223. Does anybody think God will not punish a WoW sin if the violator was raped because of it? Or will He punish both the rapist and the WoW sin?

  224. God will do as He will.

  225. We have hints of how God will judge from Christ’s earthly ministry. But however God will judge, the Honor Code Office is not God, nor are we. We should always “err”, so to speak, on the side of mercy.

  226. TW:Angry sarcasm and effects of rape

    Come on you guys, it’s so simple. After being raped and having one’s very dignity, worth, and will to live thrown into chaos, and while being tortured by feelings of self-loathing, guilt, and despair, it’s totally reasonable to put that all aside and act as if the literal re-wiring of your brain never happened as you cooly and calmly explain exactly what went down. Then the perfect, impartial judges of the honor code will bestie fair punishments upon you and the perpetrator like the dews of Heaven that you might repent of your sin. THEN we can talk about mercy. But come on! The eternal scales of honor code justice must be appeased before we get into some petty compassion.

    /end sarcasm
    Yah, I’m pissed. One thing I’ve noticed with all the comments that insist on enforcing the honor code is that there is mainly only mention of punishment (for the rapist most of all), but no mention or show of any kind of compassion. Which leads me to the conclusion that it’s more about making the poster feel comfortable than actually caring about victims. (And yes, you can talk about accountability in a way that is all about love for the victims, but I only see a few slivers of it. Mainly I see people wanting to make themselves comfortable by convincing themselves if everyone lived like them then bad things wouldn’t happen.)

  227. Wait, the poster?

  228. *bestow not “bestie”
    *also I meant to imply that the charges for justice were being applied to both parties, but without mention for compassion towards the victim. That should be the FIRST reaction as we learn from the Savior. THEN we can talk about what changes may or may not need to happen for the sake of the victim-not an appeasement of external rules that can never be ends into themselves.

  229. Steve-
    Sorry, fat fingers and a phone make it hard to edit and re-read. I meant the handful of posts/posters who have been heavily advocating an absolute justice approach with the honor code

  230. Gotcha

  231. Pieface… we all agree there isn’t any excuse for rape, the rapist needs to be punished, the victim doesn’t deserve it, and that the victim needs to be comforted/aided/succored. Because I think that’s agreed upon we haven’t posted much on those issues… not because we don’t care about them. The only topic on the table is whether the victim should also face punishment for their own HC violations. The OP wasn’t “Let’s discuss all aspects of rape at BYU” but was concerned with this one point of the rape victim also facing punishment.

    I see the disconnect as one where some think punishment for other HC violations is essentially punishing them FOR being raped, and some others think it isn’t. Is that about right Steve?

  232. PieFace: “not an appeasement of external rules that can never be ends into [unto] themselves.”

    Exactly. Was man made for the Sabbath or the Sabbath for man? The purpose of rules and laws and commandments is to bring us closer to God and eternal life. If the rules/laws/commandments don’t do that, or are applied in a way that doesn’t do that, then there is a problem. Jesus pointed this out quite clearly during his earthly ministry, much to the irritation of the rules-as-an-end crowd that he rightly called out on a regular basis.

    There seems to be a lot of straining at/out gnats here, with the consequence of swallowing a camel.

  233. Jax, I think that’s sort of the rough ballpark, but there are a lot of nuanced positions in the range between no HC violations could ever be enforced vs every single one must always be enforced. Again, a big part of the problem is that the crime is such that the victim is likely to feel shame, guilt and enormous stress, and it’s not really possible to enforce an unrelated HC violation without it being wrapped up with the crime.

  234. The honor code can be defended til the end of time but the honor code itself is not the issue. Whether or not the honor code department should enforce anything reported to them is not the issue.
    The issue is whether the report to Honor Code should be made in the first place. I, along with many others here, have argued that Title IX sharing information with the Honor Code office is a breach of trust that serves as an enormous deterrent to reporting assault. When assaults are not reported, victims do not receive the support and treatment they need and rapists are free to add to their list of victims. Increasing reporting rates and increasing conviction rates are more important than preserving the image of a school.
    If you have issues with this please ask yourself why the BYU counseling department, which deals with all sorts of issues that are a violation of honor code, does not share information with the honor code department. What would the reasons for that barrier to the sharing of information be? Then ask yourself why those reasons should not apply to Title IX and the reporting of sexual assault.

  235. it sounds like all of the above mentioned scenarios are against the honor code already and if one continues to place oneself in those situations, then all’s fair. i’m not excusing the fact that if one is in a given scenario that that would excuse a rape. not at all. those attending byu know AHEAD OF TIME what is expected, and if in an aforementioned scenario, being kicked out is a consequence. reporting a rape is valid and should be punishing to the nth degree (and even more so imho but the male dominated thinking legislative body isn’t on board yet.) having worked at PPD, we would see reports submitted through us that would call it a rape when in fact it was consensual and the victim would recant. there’s two sides to every story folks.

  236. Mom, recanting is the easy way out, and many victims choose it when they are met with disbelief and realize the uphill battle getting a conviction is. I was happy to see the Provo Chief of Police in my facebook feed today holding up his pledge to “Start by Believing”.

  237. Jax-
    You talk about helping/succoring the victim and punishing honor code infractions as though they are totally seperate and can be addressed apart. Do you personally know any rape victims? Do you know why so many don’t report even outside of the honor code scenarios? There is a pernicious feeling for many that they did something wrong to deserve it, and no one will help them because they’re not worth it for being so stupid/irresponsible/wrong/naive/whatever effed up reason the rapist or their upbringing puts into their head.

    Now I know each scenario is different, but I have had so many friends and family go through this trauma to varying degrees, and before you can even talk about minor infractions, they need to know above all that they did not deserve what happened to them, and it was the rapists fault. I can promise you that almost every single rape victim already has gone over all the reasons it happened, and all the things they should have done differently, even if it wouldn’t have actually helped. Internalizing the shame is a way to feel in control again from an out-of-control situation, even though it’s not healthy or right. Rape victims should not be going through the HC office to make “amends” for breaking a policy that is not even a commandment, and that they most likely already feel unreasonable shame about breaking.

    I view it as interfering with succor to try and drag them through that. If you talk to a rape victim who is still traumatized, they may give you a list of reasons why it was their fault that don’t even make sense. Until they can recover from the worst, I don’t think minor infractions need to be mentioned until they’re in a place where they want to talk about it. And also, it should be done with their benefit in mind to help them, not scold or punish.

  238. mom: “it sounds like all of the above mentioned scenarios are against the honor code already and if one continues to place oneself in those situations, then all’s fair.” “those attending byu know AHEAD OF TIME what is expected”

    Yep. That woman who was committing adultery and caught, she placed herself in that situation. She knew AHEAD OF TIME that she was breaking the law. She knew the consequence of breaking that law: being stoned to death. So yeah, stoning her to death is “all fair.”

    And yet, and yet… Jesus excused her from her punishment… in order to teach us about mercy over justice, about our own sinfulness, about compassion, and about all the wonderful aspects of the new law of the atonement.

  239. So while I think it is fine for the HC office to punish the HC violations of a rape victim, and that it isn’t the same as punishing the victim FOR the rape, I don’t see any reason for the Title IX office to make a report to the HC office immediately. Much like Steve said above, if the HC office finds out and does it’s thing, fine. But I would think that reporting that info AFTER the culprit has been dealt with by the school and after a reasonable period of time ( 1-2 months maybe) for the victim to be cared for/feel safe that a report would be fine. This would facilitate it being clear that the victim isn’t being punished for the rape, but for the other HC issues, and would give the victim time to adjust the the trauma (I know the passage of time doesn’t necessarily diminish that hurt/anger/fear/shame).

    I admitted above to my ignorance of how BYU handles those things currently. Maybe there is that period of time passing, or maybe they offer immediate punishment. We all view the rape as much more serious. I’d like to think that it is handled as the first priority, and handled first, and that the other HC violations are dealt with after the fact. Can someone comment on how they do it now?

  240. Uh, that’s not really what I said.

  241. PieFace… check out my posts above and you’ll see me mention that I am a victim as well. I know the mental anguish of coming forward and the fear of reprisals and the feelings of self-accusation. I know the depression and thoughts of suicide. I know the anger.

    But I think it unconscionable that any victim would not come forward to make sure the perpetrator faces punishment. I don’t think that they “should” face HC violation from BYU, but don’t think it is horrific/appalling/un-Christlike/etc if they do.

  242. Jax, they make the report when they have information to report. And your suggested waiting period misses the point. If a victim knows reporting their assault will result in an honor code investigation, it is a deterrent to their reporting. It doesn’t matter when that report will be made. Did you read my earlier question about why the counseling department doesn’t share information?

  243. Jax, “But I think it unconscionable that any victim would not come forward to make sure the perpetrator faces punishment.” You don’t get to judge them for their choices. You are one of many people in this feed that has shared that they are survivors. Your experience does not invalidate theirs, just like theirs does not invalidate yours.

  244. Jax-
    My point about the HC taking action is that for some victims, they won’t seperate the two. Women especially have a hard time doing this as we’ve been repeatedly told we’re the “guardians of virtue” and are taught from a young age to absorb more responsibility for others’ actions towards us.

    My other question is-what’s the point? If someone is raped and the event involves an HC infraction-don’t you think they’ve already realized that and thought about it? Would the HC then throw them out of BYU? Give them a warning on top of what happened? Give them a “stern talking to?” Try to facilitate compassionate responses? What is the purpose of the HC and its enforcement and would that In fact be reasonably achieved by making them go through the HC office?

  245. KH… I got that. Not reporting a rape in order to avoid an HC investigation is a terrible choice… in the same degree that rape is more serious than the HC violation. I know the confusion/anger/fear that victims feel is terrible. This is be unpopular and sound quite harsh, but NOT coming forward to bring a rapist to justice in order to shield yourself from a much more minor infraction is cowardly and horrific. To be willing to let a rapist get off and walk free in order to avoid admitting you were drinking would be an ugly choice.

  246. “Would the HC then throw them out of BYU? Give them a warning on top of what happened? Give them a “stern talking to?” Try to facilitate compassionate responses? What is the purpose of the HC and its enforcement and would that In fact be reasonably achieved by making them go through the HC office?”

    I don’t know… I’ve admitted that. WHat is the standard punishment for drinking? Being in an opposite sex bedroom? No idea?

  247. Jax, you’re correct. Calling someone who is trying to protect themselves after experiencing one of the most violating experiences possible “cowardly” would be an unpopular thing to say. All I can say is I would encourage you to get some training in the area of victim trauma and perhaps expand your understanding beyond your own experience. Beyond that, I’ll just count my blessings that your sphere of influence doesn’t appear to spread far beyond a comment thread on a blog post.

  248. Arnold Lemmon says:

    I have personally reviewed, supervised the investigation of, and/or directly investigated every sexual assault reported to the BYU Police Department for the past 37 years – if you would like to know the facts, give me a call or come visit me at my office. Lt. Arnold Lemmon, University Police

  249. I’m a bit far to come visit… could you just tell me a ballpark timeframe between a sexual assault being reported and the potential victim facing a HC violation investigation/punishment?

  250. When did the purpose of the Honor Code become “preventing rape”?? All these posters saying that Administration would want feedback to improve HC so that “these things” don’t happen. No. HC is not prepared with the prevention of rape in mind.

  251. Thanks lieutenant. Much appreciated.

  252. Lieutenant, thank you for your invitation. I’ve read some interviews with you as I’ve been researching this over the past couple of days. Would you mind answering just a couple of questions for us here?

    I think one of the biggest questions is how the information about a sexual assault makes it way to the honor code office. Does the police department provide that information? Or does it come from the title ix office?

    Another big question might be: how often are victims punished by the honor code office?

    And finally, based on your extensive experience, do you think the possibility of punishment by the honor code office is a disincentive for victims to report assault?

    Thank you.

  253. ErinAnn-
    I don’t think anyone is assuming the HC’s purpose is just to prevent rape. However, when the HC might actually be preventing rapists from being discovered and punished because of how it’s set up, it might need some examination.

    My question was honestly about what the ultimate purpose of the HC is and why we punish infractions. If a victim needs to be punished for a potential HC violation simply to appease some abstract sense of justice for a made-up (though well-intended) system, then arguments tend to fall flat for me. The honor code is a code-not a commandment, so I don’t feel the same need to get “justice” unless another student was hurt due to the victim’s potential infraction. Rules are set up to protect us and punish those who hurt. If the victim didn’t hurt anyone else, I question if the honor code is serving its purpose unless the purpose truly is punitive and petty. I’m not against codes of conduct, but they should serve the population, not the other way around.

  254. So, analogies. They have their place.

    They can be instructive.

    Here’s what I’ve learned: many of my brothers on this thread feel that perpetuating rape culture with all its attendant suffering is a price worth paying to preserve the sanctity of the BYU Honor Code.

    Very instructive.

  255. Wow! Just for some perspective, a group I am part of that is mainly reporters who investigate Title IX issues on campuses around the country just had a post go out with the link to this post an the caption: “Could some Mormons care about victims, and Title IX issues, more than shaming victims through the Honor Code office at BYU?” Read through for a Mormon perspective:

    I hadn’t passed the thread on, but BYU’s reputation for victim blaming is legendary in that circle of reporters.

  256. Eric Russell says:

    Ok, this is getting boring. Despite some of the comments above, I think it’s pretty easy to agree that the school should adopt an immunity policy for victims. But here’s the better question – should the church?

    Outside of BYU, it’s not difficult to imagine there are members of the church in good standing who care about that membership state, who have nonetheless been raped in the context of having done something wrong. It suppose it’s possible that the rape and the circumstances surrounding it could be reported to police without anyone else knowing about it. But I think it’s reasonable to believe that many members of the church would be fearful of reporting because they believed their own actions would become known to family or others. If either a mission or a temple marriage were pending, the consequences would be particularly severe.

    To be clear, I’m not asking whether Bishops ought to have a policy of compassion and leniency towards victims – which I think most leaders would agree with. The question is whether the church should formally publish a declaration of immunity to those who report rape.

  257. it's a series of tubes says:

    Having reviewed all comments, as a BYU alum I’m truly amazed at how many of my fellow saints clamor for JUSTICE! for any violation of the malum prohibitum “honor code”. As for me, if I am going to err, I am going to err on the side of mercy, especially for those who have been victims of sexual violence.

  258. laserguy says:

    Right, IASOT…
    So it sounds like you are OK with the proposed amendment.
    Just wondering, is there any other suffering out there that makes the rule of law of none effect…
    Murder, a family member is murdered, just what am I allowed to get away with because of that?
    Jaywalking, DWI, embezzlement, vigilante homicide? Just trying to see how far this “mercy” extends…
    This is a fundamental difference between Liberals and Conservatives, the rule of law, or the rule of mobocratic emotionalism?

  259. it's a series of tubes says:

    laserguy, if you review my comments on this site over the past view years, you might see that I’m probably one of the most “iron-rod”, conservative, mainstream Mormons you could imagine. No MoLib by any sense, pejorative or otherwise.

    As to how far mercy should extend, I take Micah 6:8 as my guide. YMMV.

  260. laserguy: “Having written such an inflammatory remark, let me include the standard caveats. No rape is ever justified, or “legitimate”, it is always wrong, etc, rape victims shouldn’t feel like they’ve committed a sin, or at fault, etc.”

    The tone of this passage is incredibly telling. You don’t really believe what you are writing. You should either be more sneaky or less sneaky. Being halfway sneaky about your views doesn’t help you at all ;) Your flippant attitude towards someone’s brutal trauma is terrible.

    And your characterization of what people believe who think the honor code system is flawed when it comes to sexual assault victims is such a terrible strawman that it doesn’t deserve to be responded to. No logical fallacy requires a response, and strawmen are certainly fallacies. Instead of asking us to correct your ridiculous caricature, why don’t you spend some time researching the issue of sexual assault victims yourself? I suggest putting your high and mighty ego aside, and drop the generalizing labels that dehumanize people and make it easy to ignore them (I am not a MoLib, for example).

  261. He’s been modded. Don’t feed the trolls.

  262. laserguy says:

    Knowing that Steve has modded my comment I’ll still include it.

    I do believe what I’m writing. I do not believe that any rape is ever justified or legitimate, and I believe that rape is always wrong. And I don’t believe that a rape victim should feel like they’ve committed a sin, but thanks for saying I don’t believe what I write.

  263. In BYU’s approach to rape and the approach of so many comments here, I see at least two problems. One is a lack of basic decency. There are times when we set the rules aside. There are times with the rules must be set aside. If you think you’ve never been the beneficiary of such benevolence, you are kidding yourself.

    There’s a second problem, though, because there are also times the rules don’t apply. If your rules are creating the conditions for a criminal and personal violation on the magnitude of rape, justice (a favorite word here) and common sense demand that we abolish and renounce those rules, abandon and forsake them.

  264. ml, your comments are being reviewed, though that one is not showing up at all. Feel free to resubmit.

  265. I’ve read all these comments. When I started, I honestly didn’t have an opinion, and in some small way kind of leaned toward agreeing with the policy. But after reading the discussion, I think I see it more clearly now, so here’s my two cents:

    There’s no dispute that if a girl has her guy in her room after hours she’s breaking the HC, and in normal circumstances, consequences are appropriate. But sexual assault isn’t normal circumstances. Different treatment – in this case, ignoring the HC violation – is necessary to accomplish something more important.

    The “more important” this is providing support for victims of horrible, emotional, life-altering crimes, and making sure that those victims don’t have even more disincentives to report the offense.

    It’s a trade off. You lose something when you send the message that some HC violations won’t be disciplined. And there’s risk that some people could use it as a way to get out of discipline through a false report.

    But those things you lose are ultimately worth it. It’s a trade off, but it’s the right trade to make.

    For the record, i do think it’s unfair and really unproductive to respond to policy defenders the way that some people have here today. Just because someone defends this policy doesn’t mean they’re “victim blaming.” And it doesn’t really get anywhere to tell them that they are. I think the benefits of protecting the victim here greatly outweigh the drawbacks, but I also understand that some people are concerned about those drawbacks. It’s worth discussing. A few of you articulated very well the reasons this policy needs to be changed, and you truly influenced my opinion.

  266. “But I think it unconscionable that any victim would not come forward to make sure the perpetrator faces punishment.”

    NOPE. Noooope. Among like 1000 reasons you’re dead wrong on this, there is NOTHING that guarantees a perpetrator will face punishment if a victim comes forward. In fact, the percentage of rapists who ever face punishment after a victim reports is tiny. You’re living in a fantasyland and to the extent that you let your incorrect beliefs impact the world or others, you will cause real damage.

  267. This feed has left me sad and frustrated so it’s helpful for me to remember that there’s a difference between opinionated people on the internet and people in the real world. And there are a lot of really good people out there working really hard to make changes and provide help. If this feed made you sad and frustrated as well, consider getting some education or volunteering. Make yourself into a resource for those around you. Sign the Start By Believing pledge and for heaven’s sake, pay attention to what our legislature is doing (or not doing) about these issues and have your representatives on speed dial. Hopefully Steve won’t mind me using this comment feed as a platform for spreading some information.

    Center for Women and Children in Crisis. They run the women’s shelter and the rape crisis team in Utah County and are an amazing resource. They provide a healthy relationships class that should be required for all teenagers IMHO.

    Utah Coalition against Sexual Assault

    The Children’s Justice Center

    The Hunting Ground is an amazing documentary about the problems with reporting on college campuses across the country (it’s on Netflix!).

    This is the Callisto reporting system mentioned upthread:
    and a TED talk by the founder of the group:
    Both of those link list lot of studies and statistics for those of you who love numbers.

  268. Jay,

    I appreciated your thoughtful, measured response to the thread, as well as to the policy. I’d like to take an exception to something you’ve said though:

    “For the record, i do think it’s unfair and really unproductive to respond to policy defenders the way that some people have here today. Just because someone defends this policy doesn’t mean they’re ‘victim blaming.’ And it doesn’t really get anywhere to tell them that they are

    So when a person does vocally support a policy that does so much harm and places so much shame, and yes, blame on the victim, that -is- victim-blaming. And while I agree labeling the behavior as such might not go anywhere with the person casting the blame, it might make all the difference to the actual rape victim to realize that there are people who see the situation this way.

    Glad to have your perspective here, Jay.

  269. I went to this conference, the conference was amazing and was about statistics about rape, about how to help those you know have been raped and be a support, a young woman shared her own story and a friends story of their rapes. It was beautiful. The young woman who shared her story created a website called Honey not too far back as a safe place for survivors to receive support, and share their stories anonymously or not.
    There was a Q and A at the end of the meeting and someone brought up the question what if it was reported to Byu? This brought up a heated discussion that only lasted for a few minutes. But one girl did stand up and say how she had reported something and received punishment (she didn’t say what) for her reporting. Then she said “I know someone from the Honor Code office is here”. The lady from the honor code office who works with title 9 which is where these cases usually go through said that there are rules set in place and people agree to follow them and that they do not apologize for that. It was quite upsetting to hear her say that, especially after hearing these girls stories. It was inconsiderate and not the right place or time. It really upset a lot of people, but the organizer of the event stood up and got it back on track to more appropriate conversations for the Q and A, which was good cuz I felt bad and awkward for the survivors standing up there having to listen to the Honor code lady.
    If you report a sexual assault or rape to the Provo city police department, they do not tell or contact the school or anyone. Their job is to protect you. I know this from personal experience. I also know from personal experience that just like the lady said, BYU does not apologize for their actions and the steps they take. I personally find this very upsetting and it pissed me off, because I am one of the people who was punished for reporting my attacker, who was a BYU student. I now attend UVU.
    I just have to say, rape awareness is a very important thing, and we need to create a safe and supportive environment for victims and survivors. Sexual assault and rape victims already feel enough shame and guilt for what they have gone through, and trauma as well. It is a life altering experience, and changes that person forever. Even after 4 years I still suffer from the first attack I had, and I have had 3 more since then. Idk how I got so unlucky, but I know that I can turn it into an experience that I can use to make me a better person and help others.
    BYU has no place to punish someone for reporting a rape. If there’s a freakin rapist at their school, they should be more worried about punishing them than trying to use the honor code to shame or punish the survivor. I would also think that as a church school who believes in Christ that they would be more understanding. It saddens me that this is not the case. Major changes need to be made at BYU. I understand signing an honor code, but if you get assaulted and or raped, I don’t think that anything you did that led to that should be used against you.
    I know I got a bit off topic, but I do feel strongly about this subject (because it is personal and relevant to me). I hope that victims and survivors everywhere find the help they need, open up to their loved ones, find healing through time, and know that although their pain and experience is totally different than the next persons, they are not alone. ❤️💙

  270. Brooke, you rock. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  271. Leona – I don’t mean that there’s no such thing as victim blaming. “She was asking for it with the way she was dressed,” is plainly victim blaming. And I have no issue with calling it what it is.

    But not everything people said in defense of this policy today qualifies as victim blaming. Some probably does, but plenty doesn’t. Saying that you’re concerned about legitimate HC violations being ignored, or saying that the risk of false reports should be taken into consideration isn’t victim blaming. It’s just a person weighing the costs and benefits of a proposed policy. It’s rational thinking.

    I think discussions like this benefit from substantive responses. Sometimes (not all the time) the responses here today failed to respond to the substance of another’s thought and instead responded with something less. I think that hurts the conversation.

    That’s all I was trying to say.

  272. Bottom line: if you want to reduce campus sexual assault, you have to get the assailants off campus (and prosecuted) because most assaults are by repeat offenders. If you want to get assailants off campus (and prosecuted), you have to know who they are. If you want to know who they are, it has to be safe for survivors to report their assault. Further, the assailant shouldn’t have an easy way to blackmail the survivor into silence.

    Reporting an assault is already a miserable experience, and any unnecessary deterrent to reporting (even if “justified”) ultimately serves to make campus less safe. If your goal is campus safety, this policy is counterproductive. And if the purpose of the Honor Code is to help keep students safe from both spiritual and physical harm, then an amnesty policy is also in line with the ultimate goal of the Honor Code, too.

  273. Well said “just me”

  274. Yup

  275. Brooke, thanks for your comment.

  276. It should be pointed out that the presumption of innocence must apply to both the accuser and the accused.

    In so many cases we should not privilege the accused simply because of their suffering. Rape is something also falsely accused for a variety of reasons, and no amount of pointing to biased “studies” claiming to show false accusations are extremely rare are credible. I’m not at all suggesting that false accusations are the the majority or even the norm, but this conversation ignores very real victims who were falsely accused by presuming their guilt — further victimizing them.

    The more this presumption of innocence applies only to the accuser, the more we make it possible for more people to become accused by unscrupulous or disturbed people.

    Again this is at the margins, but it happens and we can’t let our sincere concern for the suffering of the majority further marginalize and victimize a minority.

    The end result is, that the honor code should apply when a victim has been complicit. If a boy and girl have sex and then one side claims falsely that rape occurred, the accuser should definitely have the honor code applied and moreover, even though we feel for the victim of this harsh accusation we should apply the honor code in their case too.

    If a boy and girl were kissing alone and the girl is raped I do not believe anyone is suggesting the girl should be expelled, nor does anyone else. The BYU representative did not argue that.

    I speak from quasi experience. A girl I was with in college climbed on top of me, took off her clothes (nude), and initiated the process with my clothes.

    I went along with it because, hey, biology and desire, but astoundingly cooler heads prevailed and we didn’t have sex. Perhaps we are an absolute abnormality (thanks to God if that’s the case)

    But if we had sex, and she claimed I pressured her into it, I would be the one victimized. In fact, by modern standards I might even be the one to claim rape from what happened, but no one would believe me.

    In this case it’s just the relationship + location + biology that got the better of us. But I have to balance all these discussions with, “What if we went through with it, and she felt terribly guilty, confessed and accused me of doing the pressuring? Further, what if a kind but naturally imperfect authority who received the confession/accusation operated under the likely the presumption of innocence on toward the accuser and ruined my life by branding me a rapist?”

    If you will tell me I shouldn’t have been alone with her, or should have hit her or ran out the door like Joseph in Egypt aren’t you perpetuating so called rape culture? If you even deny my (true) story aren’t you doing the same?

    If you just want to say well clearly in this case she was the borderline date rapist, I wouldn’t even come close to that. But in a different state of mind it’s obvious we both could be pointing fingers (I’d lose…).

    And the honor code could further alter the incentives. She knows if she confesses, she gets expelled. She feels guilty and convinced herself I initiated it (yes people in relationships do messed up things, especially when they go bad), so she makes an accusation of rape. If the seeming conclusion here is that she shouldn’t be subject to the honor code, you’ve actually created an incentive structure of -more- false accusations. Which clearly do exactly what you don’t want — further damage someone’s life who is already a victim.

  277. Methinks the Honor Code Office dropped a real stink bomb. It will be interesting to see how they handle the national attention.

    Does the HC have enough merit to keep? It’s all stick and no carrot. The best thing that could happen to BYU would be a class action lawsuit on behalf of silenced rape victims dismantling the HC as part of the settlement.

  278. Let’s ignore these analogies for a moment, and think about the reality of the situation. Compassion happens within systems such of what has been set up with the HC office. However, we’re human and therefore do not always trust that there will be compassion, and all we see are the hard facts and rules set out. People are known to run away from or don’t report crimes because they are afraid that they will be punished for something they did or accused of/punished for something they didn’t do.

    Add onto that the fact that, in many cases of rape, it’s about control and you’ve got yourself a big mess. Rapists can play mind games and use something as well-intended as the HC against their victims.

    You can say “well, that’s not what they mean” or “the HC office will show compassion for the victim”, but that’s not what the rapist is going to say to their victim.

    It’s up to us, whether we’re at BYU or elsewhere, to remind people of the existence of compassion. Show it and teach it. That’s one of the best things we can do, and something all of us are capable of no matter our situation.

  279. The more I think on the issue, the more we are stuck having to consider the evidence. But there is always an exception to whatever conclusion you come to that can lead to terrible trends at the margins (which over time get worse no matter which side you come down on).

    First, you should start with taking a person at their word. In many cases, this obviously leads to both sides claiming innocence.

    Signs of violence in a he said she said situation point to rape. Possible exception I suppose could be if a history of masochistic like behavior can be proven. You sadly don’t need Google to prove there are a lot of weird role players these days… Of course, what if you can’t prove someone is a role playing masochist? And even if those cases are presumably rare, we still have to consider it if the accused claims it was desired, or do we? If some behavior is out of bounds in the law, let’s make it so. Will we declare certain behaviors in the bedroom illegal and go down that road that perhaps our wise forebearers already did?

    That’s where credibility and history of the accuser/accused then comes in. So then you are looking at character, history, situation, location, behavior, and people say that’s rape culture.

    And we the accuser is permiscuous and the accused a known saint? Even in that case we can’t really know.

    As alluded to in my prior comment, this predates Joseph in Egypt. And he indeed went to jail as a result of this incorrect presumption.

    I think contemporary society is getting so much wrong in how we approach this issue, and I don’t trust that the populist approach these days is really taking a principled course of action based on so much of the rhetoric and social, civil, and administrative pressures are surrounding the issue.

    The conclusion that we can’t even tell people to be wise in how they dress, what they do, who they are with, etc. further complicates it because obviously people get raped regardless and a short dress and drunken party attitude is not an invitation to sex. And yet those things do correlate with sex so wisdom should advise against it.

  280. Gye, I don’t see how a policy of not automatically sharing information about the circumstances of a rape from the Title IX office to the Honor Code office would result in men being falsely accused. Are you saying that it would, or are you not saying it would and just raising a separate issue? What you’re saying isn’t unimportant, it just seems to me like a separate issue.

  281. “Of course, what if you can’t prove someone is a role playing masochist?”

    I’m just gonna leave this here as an example of the hypotheticals that are apparently keeping some men up at night, while women are dealing with the reality of 1 in 5 women experiencing sexual assault in college.

  282. Cynthia that’s unfair. I’m saying you should default with trusting in your fellow brothers and sisters. Examine the facts and make a decision.

    Interestingly people are messed up to put it plainly. Or they’ve always been that way and share it more publicly. But unless you personally are acquainted with someone who for some reason enjoys being strangled during intercourse and hit around perhaps it’s best not to assume I’m making up crazy nonexistent hypotheticals.

    I’m actually all for banning such behavior so it could never be used as an excuse. But if the starting point is innocent until proven guilty this is not easy.

    You never addressed the broader assumption in the comment about the ‘incentive’ system created by never looking at rape and allegations from an honor code perspective.

    And yes having due processed denied to anyone by concluding guilt because of a statistic should keep everyone up at night. Male or female.

  283. First off, BYU and the LDS church DO NOT CONDONE RAPE (far, far from it). Second, they DO NOT WANT TO SHAME THE VICTIM OF RAPE. And third, BYU and the LDS church DO NOT WANT TO SHEILD THE RAPIST FROM PROSECUTION (the law)–all claims of this writer. I’m embarrassed for the writer of this ‘article’ and the article’s feeble attempt to slander… and to attract those that are looking for any reason to be dissatisfied with BYU or the church. Seriously, what’s up with the quick judgements of the posters are this article. There were no quotes, links, or any real information to back up the claims. With no facts most were, apparently, more than willing to ‘jump on board’ and assign some nefarious intentions to BYU.

    Note: The ‘sticking point’ for this writer is that a victim may be reported to the honor code. First off, I’d like to see this in writing from an official BYU document before I start to consider howling my discontent. Second, if the statement is true, then I’d probably want to like some clarification (and do some of my own thinking) before I jump on the “BYU wants rape” bandwagon. (Note: Most people don’t understand much, if anything, about the BYU honor code. It’s not nearly as scary as those that deride it proclaim).

  284. Matt: reading comprehension is a wonderful thing. I would recommend it to you.

  285. Gye, holding out the hypothetical masochistic female as a reason to be skeptical of rape victims is a big problem. I hope you can see that.

  286. Left Field says:

    When I was a BYU student +/- 35 years ago, my understanding was that if someone came to the student health center with a STD, they just got medical treatment, no tattling to the bishop or the standards office. And that was before HIPAA. Their job was medicine, not standards enforcement.

    The police’s job ought to be law enforcement. If the victim of a crime didn’t break any actual laws, then why in the world would the police get involved with it in the first place? And even if the victim did violate some law, then why in the world would the police want to jeopardize a rape investigation by charging their primary witness with underage drinking, spitting on the sidewalk, or a broken taillight?

    If the BYU police are so focused on lawbreaking that they can’t possibly ever overlook a single instance of underage drinking by a crime victim, then they ought to have the cojones to follow proper police procedure and take the case to the DA instead of the honor code office. If they can convince the DA to bring charges, then the honor code office will hear about it anyway.

  287. This discussion has spread (viral? I don’t know). The following was forwarded to me as an example from SVU (“Southern Virginia has served Latter-day Saints and those with similar values since 1996. It is the only liberal arts university with a Latter-day Saint environment.”):
    To encourage reporting of Title IX violations, anyone who reports sexual misconduct, either as a witness or complainant, will not be subject to disciplinary action by the University for their own personal use of alcohol or drugs at or near the time of the incident, so long as those actions did not, or do not place anyone else at risk regarding their health and safety.

  288. Three cheers for SVU. That’s good news.

  289. Gye (10:14 PM):’It should be pointed out that the presumption of innocence must apply to both the accuser and the accused.”

    This is not possible. “Presumption of innocence” is a standard in criminal trials, which grants a powerful tool to the defendant: the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to overcome the presumption that the accused is innocent until proved guilty. This is precisely why rape cases are so difficult on victims. In cases where consent is the contested issue (99% of campus rape cases), the only way to create reasonable doubt is to attack the character of the complainant, and to argue that she is lying about consent. This is all perfectly legal because she is not on trial or at risk of being deprived of life or liberty. It is philosophically impossible to grant the presumption of innocence to both sides in a dispute like this. It always goes to the one on trial.

    This is because our justice system is built on the assumption that it is better for ten guilty people to go free than for one innocent person to go to prison.

    This is not how internal university investigations and disciplinary processes work. We use a standard called “preponderance of evidence,” which means that we assume neither guilt nor innocence at the outset and try to determine which version of events is more likely and which is less likely. This is the standard used in civil trials, but not in criminal ones. This means that the question we are asking in these cases is, “is it more likely or less likely that this action was not consensual.” Without the dramatic “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of evidence, we do not create environments that incentivize attacks on victims. And because we have no authority to send anybody to prison, we do not, and indeed cannot, use a standard of evidence so weighted against a victim or accuser.

  290. eponymous says:

    Lots of opinion, too much conjecture and way too many hypotheticals here with very few facts concerning the actual meeting and more importantly no commentary from the administration or the Honor Code Office.

    Steve, your call for response from BYU is precisely what is needed here. The rest of this mess is just a disaster.

    My hope is that a responsible journalist is pursuing this story (Peggy Fletcher Stack please!) and will put the appropriate pressure in the right places to get both a balanced story AND encourage a shift in policy where warranted. Without the facts no one at BYU is going to pay proper attention to how By Common Consent is chasing this story.

    As a BYU alum I expect better from my Alma Mater and I especially expect better in today’s environment when I have to consider whether it makes sense to send my own children to the school.

  291. Hear, hear.

  292. May I add one more nuance to the conversation. A number of the friends I have who were raped in their youth, some at college, some elsewhere, were later diagnosed with mental illnesses such as bipolar and borderline personality disorder. They had placed themselves in dangerous circumstances because of their inability to judge those circumstances. I hope the Honor Code and the people charged with enforcing it reflect the reality that severe mental illness often shows itself in the college years. Missing the diagnosis brings terrible results into the lives of the afflicted and those who love them. So much suffering could be eliminated if the person received qualified mental health care at the time.

  293. Anonymous says:

    Even more wild conjecture (hence anonymous) — I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that strict enforcement of the honor code is a Trustee level issue and at that level is viewed as a church-state tension. If true, there will be no response from BYU.

  294. Kevin Barney says:

    Good for SVU for promulgating a reasonable policy on this front.

  295. So… has anyone called the BYUPD Lt and actually asked the questions that have been raised, or are we all going to just stay in the realm of speculation? If I didn’t live in the middle-of-nowhere with poor cell service I’d do it and report back. Any volunteers to go out and get his perspective and facts?

  296. maustin66 says:

    Threatening behavior is not necessary. Very often, in these situations, the men do not see themselves as having committed a rape. This is the disturbing part of the culture: they see themselves as having “made a conquest,” or “scored,” or “gotten her to put out” or something like that. This is what those of us who talk about “rape culture” means–a set of cultural attitudes and assumptions that normalizes rape and makes it appear to the perpetrator (and all too often to the victim) as just what happens when people drink and party. So looking for evidence of brute force or violence is usually going to be a blind ally that benefits the perpetrator. The investigations are easy when we have threatening text messages.

    What we look for is evidence of positive consent, which can include witnesses, texts, social media posts, etc. We also take into account the level of intoxication (there is almost always some level of intoxication) to determine whether or not somebody was too impaired to give consent or to understand the consequences of various actions. We interview the parties involved, witnesses who can contribute to our understanding, and review whatever text-message, Social media trail has been left behind. And then we make our best decision as to whether or not the action was genuinely consensual.

  297. As someone who has studied rape myths academically, and has written an entire thesis on this well as presented at conferences about this topic, I am not surprised by many posts. But still disappointed.

    Gye: Academic studies have shown that many people believe that up to 90% of rape accusations are false. The reality is that only 2% are false. That’s right. 2%. The social cost of reporting rate for girls is very high because of false ideas like the one you believe. Consequently only about half of rapes are ever reported. And only 2 out of 100 rapists will ever spend one day in jail.

    These are very sobering numbers. And they should cause us to reflect on why this is.

    BYU should make it easier to report rape and not harder. This policy makes me sick to me stomach.

  298. The problem with “look for consent” approach at BYU is that many don’t openly announce ahead of time, via a permanent record like texts, that they are planning on breaking their covenants (for LDS students). A couple might both be looking forward to a night together alone, but I doubt you’d find them willing ahead of time to announce that they are going to have sex. In LDS culture that would be shameful, and so the parties hide it largely even from witnesses.

    I had friends who had sex in High School. None of them came to the group of us and proudly announced they’d made a conquest. They wouldn’t have found praise for having done so. They wouldn’t have gotten consent from their partner with us present, it was a hidden activity. It wasn’t openly acknowledged by them ahead of time because of the built-in guilt for planning that act. It was a in-the-moment-of-passion type of thing.

    That is my experience with LDS culture vs World culture in that matter. “they see themselves as having “made a conquest,” or “scored,” or “gotten her to put out” or something like that.”… that just isn’t how my experiences worked (I’m 37 FYI). IF that is how LDS youth really act today then not a one of them deserve the priesthood.

  299. The better thinking these days (ok, my strongly held opinion too) is that sex is best talked about and taught as a mutual affirmative consent matter. There are too many problems with “no means no” (including that it tends to put all the burden on one side, usually women). And problems with any form of implied consent. Mutual affirmative consent, meaning unless both of you are saying yes, affirmatively, continuously, in the present, then don’t. This works well in chastity lessons. This works on college campuses. This works in the context of a married couple in a loving long-term relationship. It might not be the right line to draw for criminal law definitions of rape. That’s a somewhat different conversation with different considerations. But outside of the criminal law, it also works better than the alternatives (in my opinion)) for assigning blame when things go wrong.

  300. Brooke – if you’re interested in speaking out, my email is [available from the BCC admins]. I am the woman who spoke out during the Rape Awareness Conference and called out Title IX Coordinator Sarah Westenberg. My personal experience with Title IX and the Honor Code is not singular. You are not alone.

  301. Madi – I would like to talk with you as well, if that’s OK.

  302. LiveAndLetDie says:

    Victim blaming is part of our LDS culture. I am not really sure how it got this way, but that doesn’t matter. We need to change.

    I am under Church discipline (nearly 5 years). Disfellowshipped. I held a visible Church calling, but my sin was not well known. The wife of a stake presidency member used my situation as an example to the young women in her ward. This gets back to my own children through a less active YW that happens to be in a class with my daughter.

    My wife is furious. My daughter is deeply embarrassed. My wife and I meet with the Stake President and while he was sympathetic — he said the youth would never have known if I didn’t screw up in the first place. Nothing positive came from the meeting.

    The repercussions have been deep. My kids no longer attend church. My wife no longer attends church and is now divorcing me. I am the only one who regularly attends — and I am on the outside.

    My sin was several years in the past and my marriage was strong. The eventual destruction can be traced to that lapse of confidentiality.

    Actually, that’s not true. The end of my marriage and family testimony would never have happened if I didn’t sin in the first place.

  303. Aside from the HC, I think BYU probably has a serious consent culture problem (based on my experiences, which are admittedly dated, but this thread suggests that not much has changed). When I was at BYU, there seemed to be this underlying assumption that everyone wants sex or makeout sessions, and even if somebody claims to not want sexual contact, they probably still “like” it, and it’s therefore kind of okay. For example, look at how people reacted to the “BYU groper” back in 2014: there were lots of jokes suggesting that women actually wanted to be groped, or that the groper was just some poor dude who wanted some action, not a serious offender. People were surprised when it turned out to be a married guy–why would a married guy want to grope women?

    In my time at BYU I had several male friends or boyfriends who touched me in ways I didn’t want. One time I even punched a friend of mine in the face because he had tackled me and held me down despite me repeatedly demanding that he stop. My friends all thought that I had overreacted to harmless flirting and I felt bad about the incident, but the feeling of helplessness at being held down was terrifying. My first BYU boyfriend, a really sweet guy overall, kissed and touched me in ways that I didn’t like–it wasn’t morally wrong, I just didn’t like it. When I told him I didn’t like it, he would tell me that I’d “get used to it” or “learn to like it” and keep going. Many of my roommates ended up in situations where boyfriends crossed lines without asking how they felt about it, forcing them into the position of enduring discomfort or awkwardly asking the boyfriend to stop. Even though Mormon women are expected to police boundaries, they often aren’t taught that it’s okay to say no, or even informed enough about sex to recognize when they’re being taken advantage of. Another example: I was at a country dance hall in Provo with a male friend and a random older guy grabbed me and started grinding on me. I felt violated but wasn’t sure what to do, and tried to signal to my friend to come help me out. But my friend thought the whole situation was funny and referred to the man as my new boyfriend, and then joked about it with our friends when we got home. After that, I stopped going dancing because I was afraid of running into that older guy. It wasn’t until I left BYU that I realized these scenarios were messed up.

    I was told several times in my BYU wards that women should never say no to a first date, even if they thought the guy was weird or creepy–in other words, “ignore your instincts to protect a man’s feelings!” Not a great message. Meanwhile, premarital sex was usually framed in terms of “losing control.” Asking explicitly for consent before sex actually makes it seem premeditated and deliberate, and therefore worse than “losing control,” possibly. Kind of scary. I’m not saying there’s more sexual assault at BYU than elsewhere, just that consent may not be well-understood.

  304. “Asking explicitly for consent before sex actually makes it seem premeditated and deliberate, and therefore worse than “losing control,” possibly. Kind of scary. I’m not saying there’s more sexual assault at BYU than elsewhere, just that consent may not be well-understood.”

    This is the point I was trying to make earlier. Not sure if BYU has it happen more than other schools, but I’d think that LDS women might be more unprepared to defend against it, or even recognize it, because some of those cultural “norms” about not talking about it, and the (inaccurate) thinking that LDS kids wouldn’t put themselves in those places/situations.

  305. Quite a discussion here. I’d only add one idea.

    Being a member of the LDS church, a missionary, or a student at a church-owned school does not mean you have signed away your civil rights. You are not less of a person, or entitled to “less than” treatment under the law because of where you go to school or where you serve in a volunteer capacity.

    If your Elder’s Quorum President manages to steal your life savings or life insurance settlement from a deceased spouse, it isn’t a matter for the Bishop. It is a police matter. If the Bishop won’t leave your home until you sign a check making an investment in his trash hauling business, it isn’t a matter for the Stake President. It is a matter for the police. (Both true stories).

    If your missionary companion tosses a pot of scalding water on you because you won’t wake up in the morning, it isn’t a matter for the district leader, the zone leaders, or even the mission president. It is a matter for the police. If you’re sexually assaulted in the shower by your companion and sodomized with a broom handle, it isn’t a matter for the ward mission leader. It is a matter for the police. If the mission Car Czar pins you against a brick wall while you’re on foot and he’s in a vehicle and breaks your leg, it’s not a matter for the APs. Even if he claims he was just joking around, Even if he used to be your companion. It’s an issue for the police. (True stories).

    If you’re out for a hike in Provo Canyon and participating in “wholesome recreational activities” and sexually assaulted, it isn’t a matter for the BYU Police, the Honor Code Office, or your singles ward Bishop. It is a matter for the police. Even if you’re making out at the Temple parking lot late on a Saturday night and raped, it isn’t a matter for the dorm Resident Advisor or BYU security. It is a matter for the police.

    The LDS church, in all actuality, does not have any more civil or criminal authority than we choose to give it.

  306. Isn’t it sad that the common sense pervading Michael’s comment (10:01 a.m.) is so uncommon among our people? Well said, Michael.

  307. Sleepless in SLC says:

    Kudos to all of you who are raising awareness of rape culture. You are doing the Lord’s work. Both the BYU policy and the comments on this thread are heartbreaking and simply unacceptable from followers of Christ.

  308. I may be ignorant, but how often do people get kicked out of BYU for having sex outside of marriage? While I never had sex outside of marriage at BYU, I did a bunch of other dumb things, and even though I spoke to the bishops, it never put my schooling at risk.

    Maybe it’s because my bishops never reported my acts to the Honor Code Office? But even then, the HCO certainly knew about Brandon Davies, and he didn’t get kicked out.

    …But maybe Brandon and I didn’t get kicked out because we’re men and “that’s just what men do.”

  309. Maybe it’s because my bishops never reported my acts to the Honor Code Office?

    That’s definitely the reason. Leadership roulette. It is impossible to know the internal calculus within the minds of those bishops who choose to destroy someone’s life over confessing a sin, but such bishops do exist.

  310. I haven’t read all the comments here, so I don’t know if anyone has pointed out that the Honor Code certainly offers some prevention to rape cases. For every one woman who apparently has to admit to someone that she was fondling her boyfriend before he raped her, there has to be 10 or 15 who didn’t fondle their boyfriend and so weren’t raped because they follow the Honor Code. In hindsight, I’m sure that my biggest dating mistake would have raped me had he either been allowed in my bedroom or not had the fear of expulsion for violating the Honor Code looming before his visions of academic and professional grandeur.

  311. I’ve been trying to think of whether any counterpart to this issue would/could exist at other universities.

    Other universities have title IX offices. And they also commonly have codes of conduct (they’re just really different from byu’s).

    So let’s say a university has a code of conduct that prohibits criminal activity, including the possession/use of illegal drugs. A student is using illegal drugs at a party and is subsequently sexually assaulted.

    Do other universities offer (formally or informally) any sort of immunity in that situation? Do they have “walls of separation” between their title IX offices and their disciplinary offices?

    I honestly don’t know. But it would be interesting if so. If other universities are already doing this, their experience could be used to identify the potential problems, how it works in practice, etc. For example, if other universities offer immunity, we could see whether that immunity has any effect on false assault allegations (which appears to be a big concern of folks I’m seeing talking about this on the internet today).

  312. I have read 2/3 of the comments and I saw earlier up thread someone make the assertion that “just telling boys not to rape doesn’t lower rape” ummmm WRONG. Canada started an ad campaign directed towards men called “DON’T BE THAT GUY” and sexual assaults dropped 10% across the board. Google it.

    “Just because she isn’t saying no doesn’t mean she is saying yes,” the poster says. “Sex without consent = sexual assault. Don’t Be That Guy.”

  313. It’s amazing to me that so many of you are willing to perpetuate outright lies in order to further your outrage. The writer of this article should be ashamed. He has used the word “may” to imply the BYU Police run to the HC office with allegations against victims. Without a shred of evidence that this has ever happened, you have all carried on wild speculation and condemnation of BYU, it’s police, it’s honor code, and it’s students. Does a single one of you have a real statistic or case study or anything to back up the nonsense you are now making viral?

    Have any of you gotten actual facts about how many actual rapes or sex offenses are reported to the police per year? To hear you all go on, it’s happening every minute. I checked. The actual number: about 10 sex offenses (including groping, exposing, and locker room spying. And many of the victims are male.) How many are actual rapes? Maybe 1 in five years or ten years. Maybe.

    People are carrying on about this on facebook as well, talking about “rape hill” and all the assaults that have occurred on campus. The reality is, there was one assault of a female near the Maesar Hill in 1979 or 80 and it wasn’t sexual.

    Some day you will be called to answer for the damage you are doing. Just stop.

  314. Jay @11:42: See my note above regarding SVU’s Amnesty policy. Also this paragraph from the Department of Education FAQ on “Title IX and Sexual Violence”:

    “The training should also encourage students to report incidents of sexual violence. The training should explain that students (and their parents or friends) do not need to determine whether incidents of sexual violence or other sexual harassment created a
    hostile environment before reporting the incident. A school also should be aware that persons may be deterred from reporting incidents if, for example, violations of school or campus rules regarding alcohol or drugs were involved. As a result, a school should review its disciplinary policy to ensure it does not have a chilling effect on students’ reporting of sexual violence offenses or participating as witnesses. OCR recommends that a school inform students that the school’s primary concern is student safety, and that use of alcohol or drugs never makes the survivor at fault for sexual violence.”

  315. Renee, nothing to see here except outright lies and my own shame, obviously. Thanks for the reality check!

  316. Jay,

    I administer the TItle IX program at a university. We do not separate our very small security office from Title IX investigations as a matter of course, but we do not discipline students for room visitation violations or alcohol and drug violations in connection with reporting a sexual assault (either as a victim or as a witness). This is consistent with all of the guidelines that we have received in training and in the implementing letter from the OCR. We are keenly aware that, if we were to discipline students for these smaller issues, we would dramatically curtail reporting, which we do not want to happen. We would rather know about sexual predators in our community than some underage drinking or a few joints.

  317. Renee, would you care to share the source of your information? For example, what leads you to believe that there has only ever been one assault of a female near the Maeser Hill, and that it was in 1979 or 80? Or am I misunderstanding your assertion?

  318. Renee, the point is that the current policy discourages women from reporting rape because they are scared that the honor code office will then “punish” them if the office perceives that the rape victim was doing something against the rules when the rape happened.

    Many women have stated that they were raped at BYU but did not report it. Are you saying they are lying?

  319. Renee,
    I don’t know where you got your data, but it seems that you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. See for instance this article that came up in a Bing search (on the first page) that references a sexual assault and 14 instances of groping in 2014. I’m skeptical that was just a particularly bad year.

  320. Clark Goble says:

    Kylo (10:52) I’ve no idea about the honor code of the last 10 years but a common complaint when I was at BYU was that the honors code department seemed extremely inconsistent about how it administered punishments. While the idea of an honor code seems great, the implementation often seems problematic. I don’t have a solution for that though beyond thinking that perhaps the Bishops should be making the final decisions instead of the department. But of course Bishops are also inconsistent in the level of punishment meted out – especially in terms of attending BYU.

    I’ve known people who were expelled for reasons that seemed pretty questionable (assuming they were telling me the truth). I’ve also known roommates complaining to the honors department because of boyfriends staying overnight and getting no relief. I think talking about the issues is important but I hope people realize that there are bad incentives for having the honors code the way it is.

    For instance if you keep honors code violations from taking place for people claiming rape you create a HUGE bad incentive for false rape claims. That’s because anyone who might be expelled can save their university career with such a charge. That in turn would have the unintended consequence of having people believe rape victims less which isn’t what anyone wants.

    Honestly I think that while having title IX attempt to make a non-criminal process to punish rapists is well intended, it’s created an unfortunate situation. I’d much rather have better training for police departments, faster processing of rape kits, better awareness programs than bringing universities into the process in ways that I think ultimately make things worse not better. This would also resolve the conflicts mentioned in the original post where there are inherent conflicts of interest.

    Renee (12:11) I think the problem is people don’t understand the distinction between the Provo police and the campus police. Were I to hazard a guess I’d imagine the vast number of rapes or related crimes are handled by the Provo police rather than campus police simply due to where assaults take place.

    Regarding the hill south of campus I can’t speak to the era you mention but the time I was there (89 – 94) I knew of several people who faced attempted assaults or sexual exposure. (This wasn’t stupid freshmen running naked through the tunnel where people sang church songs Sunday night but more serious issues.) From what I understand the “snipper” where someone with scissors cutting women’s dresses while they slept in the library was actually far more serious as well around ’92 or so. Likewise again not everyone brought charges up of assaults that took place.

    Regarding the broader problem, it does seem like there are far more assaults around Provo than there should be. According to the latest data I could find in 2013 there were 82 rapes in Provo. While obviously not all were associated with BYU, that is still a very high number that should concern us. For the crime area of Provo/Orem metro area in 2015 there was a rate of 27/100,000 or 152 rapes for the metro area. That’s a low number nationally but I think that just shows what an epidemic it is that our country hasn’t been able to yet stop that 152 is considered low.

  321. Clark @12:40 says “you create a HUGE bad incentive for false rape claims.”
    I can’t judge the strength of this claim, but you will immediately recognize that to the extent it is true, it reinforces the concern that fear of honor code proceedings has a chilling effect on reporting actual sexual violence. Also, it seems to me that it says says more about failings with the honor code system than about rape claims, true or false.

  322. So, the existence of the honor code both creates huge incentives for false rape claims (if victims are given amnesty from punishment if the honor code office perceives that the victims have violated an honor code rule in the course of being raped) and creates incentives for rape victims not to report out of fear of honor code office punishments (if they are not given amnesty). So, seems like the problem is the honor code, right Clark?

  323. Michael Austin – thanks, that’s interesting to know.

    A couple of follow up questions:

    1. Is your university’s way of doing things the norm across the country? (I understand that you might not know, but just in case.)

    2. Is BYU’s way of doing things the same?

    I ask the second question because I haven’t seen anything on here (or online other places reading about this today) saying one way or the other.

    The way I see it, there are a few ways of addressing this issue:

    1. A formal “immunity” policy – put it in writing that you won’t be punished for HC violations that are connected to the assault.

    2. A “wall” between the IX office and the HC office (this won’t really accomplish much though b/c once there’s a criminal investigation, the HC office will find out anyway).

    3. An “informal” immunity policy, which is what is sounds like your university does — you don’t have it in writing that victims won’t be punished, but the code office knows better than to do it, and so it doesn’t. To be effective, this message would have to make its way into the consciousness of the student body somehow.

    Do we have any info on whether BYU is already doing #3 above?

  324. Renee @12:11: “Have any of you gotten actual facts about how many actual rapes or sex offenses are reported to the police per year?”

    Here’s an article from the Deseret News:

    Now, admittedly the article is rather out of date (2003). BYU police department’s lead rape investigator states that 90% of Provo rapes go unreported. 90%!!! He says in 2002 there were 43 reported rapes in Provo out of an estimated 400.

    So yeah, there’s a lot more raping going on in Provo than you say in your post, and this is coming from the lead investigator for rapes at BYU.

    Renee: “Some day you will be called to answer for the damage you are doing. Just stop.”

    Yes, indeed. Some day those people who are turning a blind eye to the sexual assault of our sisters will be called to answer for the damage they are doing. Some day those people who disincentivize the reporting of rape through shaming and/or punishing the victim will be called to answer for the damage they are doing. I agree — those people should just stop.

  325. M is absolutely right. We do not do a very good job of giving women the tools to say no in our culture. We give them the responsibility to say no as a guardian of virtue, but we undermine their appreciation and trust in their own (as opposed to institutional) boundaries and judgement in so, so, so many ways. It takes practice to say no, and we seem really hesitant to give young women that practice. Except, of course, with their eager boyfriends. In which case, we give them a really hard time if they don’t say no.

  326. Clark Goble says:

    Christian (1:17) As I said it seems tied to the incentives of the honors code system. If you divorce crime from honors code and don’t allow communication between the groups I think the problem largely goes away. As I said, I like the idea of the honors code but I’m not sure it’s ever worked well in practice. I think it should be there but I’ve not a clue how to improve it. I do think given the reality of shared apartments that something like the honor code should be there to give roommates some control over the social situation in their own home though.

    Jay (1:23) how would the honor code office learn what’s going on if there’s a criminal investigation? I don’t see that they would. I say this because I went to look up someone to see if they had a criminal record. They had slews of arrests and convection for public indecency — this was at the same time they were attending BYU and working in the MTC. If there is communication right now it seems to be done very poorly. (Admittedly this was some time ago)

    Perhaps this is just more evidence for inconsistency. I don’t know. You’d think a conviction ought get someone kicked out of BYU at minimum. But I suspect in practice it’s all about whether these things get reported to the honor code office or their Bishop. If most people don’t know about it that may not happen as no one would report.

  327. Jay @1:23: (Obviously I’m not Michael Austin, and my window into these issues as handled by schools around the country is different, but . . .)
    (a) While I only know examples, not norms or patterns, for how the policies are formalized and communicated to students, I can say that yes they need to be communicated, to get into the consciousness of the students, to be effective. This is all about incentives and disincentives to report, which can only make a difference if students know about them.
    (b) If BYU’s current practice is as described in the OP, then it is an outlier in the U.S. in 2016. Taking out the “if . . . then” qualifier, I do know that BYU is talked about as an outlier, as having a particular problem with handling honor code issues in a way that does not deter reporting.

  328. Clark – I don’t know how they would find out. I don’t know how they typically discover any infraction. But I know that it would be a public record, so they *could* find out.

    I would imagine that if a BYU student was involved (either as a victim or suspect) in a criminal investigation of this type, people like roommates would likely know. And once a roommate knows, I guess it could get to the HC office too.

    I don’t know if that happens. I’m just speculating. Just wondering whether a “wall” policy would be a good solution. Mainly bc I think that’s what the HC officer’s comment that started this whole thing was referring to – HC doesn’t want a wall bc it views itself as the primary method of enforcing the rules (including the rule that says don’t rape your classmates).

    I’m interested in what policy would be agreeable to BYU and also effectively get at the underlying issue. I wonder what other universities do, and whether it works.

  329. Maybe other universities don’t hold out the threat that rape victims might be punished by a separate, internal “honor code” office if that office perceives that the rape victim was breaking an honor code rule at the time the victim was raped?

  330. Clark, you’re wrong, but I’d like you to realize it yourself by being socratic with you.

    You said: “For instance if you keep honors code violations from taking place for people claiming rape you create a HUGE bad incentive for false rape claims. That’s because anyone who might be expelled can save their university career with such a charge. That in turn would have the unintended consequence of having people believe rape victims less which isn’t what anyone wants.”

    Explain exactly how this incentive would work in the situation we are actually discussing in this thread, which is that the Title IX office would, AS THE COUNSELING OFFICE CURRENTLY ALREADY DOES, refrain from automatically feeding incriminating information to the Honor Code office that the Honor Code office would otherwise not have heard about independently. Nobody is suggesting that, should the Honor Code office totally independently learn of incriminating information about drinking that they not act on it. What we are saying is that when the information came *from the victim’s own report to the Title IX office*, that information not then be immediately turned back on the victim by passing it to the Honor Code office for that purpose.

    So, explain to me a scenario in which that creates an incentive to make false reports. I’m all ears.

  331. Christian – just looked at the op again and I think I misunderstood it before. You’re right, it sounds like the HC official at the meeting (assuming that this is what she actually said) conveyed the message that the HC will investigate the victim’s conduct (if that conduct is reported to the HC office by police). The HC official is essentially saying that it won’t waive the HC in those circumstances.

    Whether anyone has ever actually been subject to HC discipline in these circumstances is another question. But if we assume that the official said what the op says she said, then that’s the message students will get, regardless of whether that’s what actually happens in practice.

  332. Kristine says:

    “Whether anyone has ever actually been subject to HC discipline in these circumstances is another question.”

    Which has been answered by several women on this thread and elsewhere.

  333. Jason K. says:

    The persistent interest in making sure that nobody escape punishment for even the slightest infraction of anything says quite a bit about the current state of our atonement theology–none of it good.

  334. Kristine – my apologies if I missed it. (I know there was some discussion of people having a bishop not believe them and end up punishing them on the assumption that sex was consensual, but that’s a different issue. If there’s been discussion of the HC office investigating and punishing people for stuff like drinking, boys in the bedroom, etc… after a report, I just didn’t see it.)

    My point though was that it doesn’t really matter. If you have a IX office that communicates with the HC office, as it sounds like other universities do, then what matters is what gets communicated to students. The only communication about this issue that I’ve ever heard of is the communication recited in this OP – that an HC officer at this meeting stated that the HC office will investigate the victim’s conduct (if it is reported by the police).

  335. Jay, we announce in our policies that infractions arising from a sexual assault claim will normally not be investigated. We leave just a little bit of wiggle room just in case somebody is guilty of, say, murder or armed robbery at the time of the assault. And we have never investigated anybody for such infractions. This is the overwhelming norm on college campuses. BYU is an extreme outlier here, along with schools such as Oral Roberts University and Bob Jones University, to name a few.

  336. Kristine,

    I think this is a serious issue that deserves action and reasoned dialogue. I am trying to learn as much as possible about the situation. I have read through each of the comments on this thread. I did not immediately recall anyone stating that they had been a victim of rape and were then disciplined by the HC office. I ran searches for “I was,” “discipline,” “told,” and “punish.” I found one person stating they were “punished for reporting [their] attacker.” One other person reports hearing “many, many stories.” Three people shared stories were there was no discipline. Is this the “several women” you were referring to, or is there another source you are referring to?

  337. With reference to the title of this post, which quotes Mormon scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants, we see through this discussion arising from Sarah Westerberg’s comment at the meeting that in order to preserve its ability to exercise “the least degree of allowance” for any hint of sexual impropriety (or any other infraction of the honor code office’s rules) by a young women who has been raped, BYU is dropping its ability to exercise “the least degree of allowance” for rape. The reason this is so is because *no one* can dispute that the current policy prevents rape victims from reporting their rapists out of fear that in addition to having been raped, they might face the honor code office’s separate punishment if the honor code office perceives that the rape victim broke an honor code rule at some point in the process of being raped.

  338. ml: April 11, 2016 at 11:34 am
    Why would someone report a criminal offense to University Security or some Title IX office? Do they have the authority to incarcerate the perpetrator? Do they have elected or appointed judges who can impose jail time or financial fines? Will they create an arrest record that can be found in a background check by future employers? Will they take the victim to a hospital that can document any injuries, or collect evidence with clear and solid chain of custody? Is a crime committed on a college campus less of a crime than the same act fifty feet off-campus? Might as well report the crime to the evening cashier at the Cougareat. They have pretty much the same legal authority.

  339. Thanks, Michael Austin – it’s nice having someone in the discussion with some inside knowledge.

  340. A lot of people seem ultra concerned that everyone get the facts straight about whether honor code infractions would actually be shared between offices, investigated, and punished. That’s pretty well established in the comments here that it does happen but in one sense it doesn’t matter. Even the perception of consequences could keep victims from reporting, so if the university is to provide a safe way for victims to report it must publicly explain and defend its policy that protects victims, and dare I say, apologize for times when said policy failed to protect victims.

  341. Clark Goble says:

    Cynthia (2:02) I think I was clear I was responding to a hypothetical someone proposed earlier. I don’t know what the current honor code policy is although from my past experiences with them I tend to question their ability to follow a consistent policy.

    To your point when you say, “the Honor Code office would otherwise not have heard about independently” seems to offer far, far too much wiggle room. I’m not even sure what that means. (Again I’m ignorant here not expressing a claim about current practice) Does it mean if someone could have reported it to the honor code office then the honor code office acts as if they did? Does it mean if there’s a criminal investigation they act like they did? I’ll fully admit that I’m ignorant of both the official policies and practical actions but recognize it’s unlikely the two are exactly the same. You later said it’s simply that the information from the victim doesn’t go to the honor code office but that still seems to leave various problem areas especially if the victim doesn’t know who else may have seen them. So if during an investigation people gave witness that showed the victim was breaking the honor code how does that count? That’s not the victim’s own report but someone else’s. Yet it comes due to the victim’s report. Just limiting the wall to only the victim’s report seems insufficient from what I can see. Hopefully you can enlighten me here.

    I’d add that the deciding factor in the victim’s mind is primarily how they think honor code office might learn. (And of course what counts for their decision is their beliefs and not the actual facts on the ground)

    But reading what you said, I’m not quite clear where you or I disagree. My stated concern was that if making a rape accusation is an automatic “get out of ecclesiastic trouble card” that there’s an incentive to use that when the honor code office is investigating expulsion. If that’s not the case, then that’s good so long as it doesn’t lead to other bad incentives. If the current situation is a wall such that criminal investigation or counsels (or professors/mentors) don’t report the events to the honor code then that is good.

    If this wall is the rule (and I hope it is) then one big step for BYU is to educate people that this is the case. (Perhaps as part of the required Fitness for Life class where often the first class discusses sexual harassment and the like – at least when I was at BYU)

  342. I was raped at BYU, and I was violating the honor code at the time it happened. I didn’t go the school authorities or the police, so I can’t say anything about them, but I did go to the counseling department, where I spoke with three different counselors. None of them ever attempted to blame or punish me for breaking the code, and honestly it was a really good, supportive place for me to recover. There is clearly a problem with the way the authorities handle rapes on campus, but I can say that there are still places for victims to go on campus that are supportive.

  343. Thanks anon. Your perspective is valuable.

  344. Kristine says:

    ” This is be unpopular and sound quite harsh, but NOT coming forward to bring a rapist to justice in order to shield yourself from a much more minor infraction is cowardly and horrific.”

    Jax, no, it doesn’t sound “quite harsh.” It sounds disgusting and misogynist and stupid.

  345. If anybody is in Utah, I’m the victim who spoke out during the Rape Awareness Event and have gone through these issues with title IX and the Honor Code. I did an interview with KUTV channel 2 and it is airing tonight at 10:00. It’ll be available online after it airs at :)

  346. isacarrot says:

    I’m a current BYU student. I wasn’t aware of this sort of a catch-22 until I read this article. I’d like to continue to educate myself and read additional stories of rape/assault victims who are affected by this. I will watch the interview, thanks Madi for posting that. What have y’all found to be additional reliable resources for your knowledge on this topic?

    Also, I appreciate anon’s post here, and from experience I can agree that the BYU counseling center is a confidential place for victims or anyone for that matter.

    As I’ve read, I’ve noticed that some of the conversation in this thread has been pointed and harsh, but not most. I hope we can continue to have sympathetic discussion here. After all, we are talking about a problem created and fuelled by lack of sympathy.

  347. Jason K. says:

    Madi: Thank you for having the courage to speak up. Those of us who have the luxury of discussing this issue in the abstract would do well to listen to those for whom it is anything but.

  348. Clark, the original post (and first handful of comments, including from people who who at the meeting) (a) reports on a meeting in which the BYU Title IX officer Sarah Westerberg explicitly stating that there is NO wall and they are committed to turning information over to the Honor Code office, and (b) the post therefore advocates the building of a wall.

    So are you saying you didn’t even read the post….

  349. But it’s great to hear that you have signed your name to the advocacy cause of this post, which is that the current state of no wall is regrettable and there should be a wall.

  350. Madi, thank you for your courage! <3

  351. I feel sorry for Sarah Westerberg, actually. From the defensive tone it sounds as if she was put on the spot and played the authority card out of desperation. And it came off as callous. The best thing she can do is soften her stance and make it clear that HCO isn’t out for a pound of flesh (no pun intended). That Title IX places support for the victim first.

    The problem with letting this bad wording fester is that impressionable young women didn’t just graduate from law school, they graduated from high school. They need to know they have advocates, not enemies, in the HCO. Moreover, Sis Sarah just declared open season on said young women and she needs to clean up the mess before orange vests start popping up all over campus.

  352. Bradley, I’m all for patience and forgiveness toward Ms. Westerberg, but I don’t really feel sorry for her. She’s the Title IX coordinator, and it should not fluster her when she is called on to explain the policies of the office she oversees. Especially when she is attending a conference dedicated to one of the core issues her office deals with. It seems to me that her response was most likely a true reflection of the attitude and approach her office takes. That’s disturbing, and it suggests that a spotlight ought to be shining uncomfortably on her and those to whom she reports.

  353. Guys, I’ve noticed a lot of people are confused about the role of Title IX and the Honor Code Office. Long story short, Title IX will review your case and then, if there are any circumstances of your rape that they suspect are in violation of the Honor Code, they will turn over the information to them for subsequent punishment. If you guys have any more questions feel free to ask. The TV interview I did that’s airing tonight also answers a ton of these questions.

  354. Thanks Madi – that’s an important clarification.

  355. And as for Sarah’s response… She said that her office recognizes the “chilling effect” that the Honor Code Office has on rape reporting. She said that due to BYU’s religious and private nature, they could uphold the Honor Code however they want, and they “do not apologize for this”

  356. very, very disturbing. what in the Restored Gospel could possibly lead Sarah Westerberg or those in her office or the honor code office who think like she does to think that a chilling affect on *rape reporting* is anything close to an acceptable outcome? Does not the Gospel view rape as more serious than violations of honor code rules like staying out too late or being alone with a romantic partner in his or her bedroom?

  357. once this airs, could someone please post the segment here in a comment? It will not be possible for many readers to view this on TV.

  358. I’ll provide a link once it’s been posted online!

  359. anyone keep track of the record number of posts on one thread?

  360. Not even close.

  361. Clark Goble says:

    Cynthia (5:23) Not sure how many times I have to repeat this. I was talking of hypothetical changes. Think I made this pretty clear. i.e. that some changes might have unintended consequences. Don’t think you read my comments. I’ll drop the issue so as to not detract from the serious topic though.

  362. Here’s the interview and an article concerning this issue.

  363. Madi, I just watched it! Pretty interesting reply from BYU.

  364. Jack of Hearts says:

    For all who are looking for the interview, here it is:

    Also, this isn’t the record for most comments on a post? Good heavens, what is?

  365. Jack, we’re not close. Trust me.

  366. Jack of Hearts says:

    Aaaaaaand, scooped. Should have refreshed before I posted.

  367. Thanks, Madi. You were perfect and your courage and leadership on this is an inspiration.

  368. For the hard line HC infraction enforcers, I suggest that you review the HC itself:

    There are tons of ways that a person could be violating the HC that could never be construed to have contributed to one’s rape. Being in the bedroom of someone of the opposite sex is indeed a HC violation. But so is having a “extreme” hairstyle. Or not wearing shoes while on campus. Or having multiple body piercings. On the other hand, being alone in a computer lab with a key-code on campus late at night with a member of the opposite sex is not a HC offense, but could be more dangerous than being in the bedroom of someone of the opposite sex at 2pm (a HC offense).

    Furthermore, infractions against all parts of the HC are rampant even among the “good” kids at BYU. The VAST majority of those infractions are never reported, and may often not even be recognized by the “rule breaker.” To make a huge deal of any HC infraction in the wake of the horror of a rape seems unconscionable in that light.

    As has been said upthread, the HC is not designed as a protection against rape or assault. Please recognize that compassion and care for victims and encouraging reports of rape is far more important than absolute enforcement of the HC.

  369. M’s comment upthread is powerfully relevant in this discussion, in my opinion, and closely reflects a number of my own experiences, including one from about a month ago in BYU housing with a BYU student. I agree that addressing the chilling effect on reporting is of utmost importance, and I’d further love to see consent being part of the way we teach the law of chastity. There have been too many times where men have tried things with which I was truly uncomfortable, and if I couldn’t mount a reasonable argument as to why they shouldn’t do such things – an argument that had to go beyond “I just don’t want to” – they’d conclude that they were in the right and proceed.
    I’m sad that “I don’t want to” isn’t enough for too many individuals. I’m sad that we don’t do more to teach in the church and in society that not only physically forcing, but talking someone into doing something physically intimate that makes them uncomfortable – even if it’s as innocuous as hand-holding! – shows a lack of respect for another person’s body and mind.
    I’m really sad that articles like this exist:
    And I’m sad that there are so many reasons that add up to why we don’t believe, and therefore don’t help, rape victims.

  370. Now if you could just find a way to combine this rape issue with the topic of married Mormon grad students on welfare, then you’d have a thread.

  371. Jimbob knows.

  372. James Brown says:

    So let me pose a hypothetical situation. Let’s take this completely outside the context of BYU and the honor code. Let’s just look at two people in Anytown, USA and see what makes sense.

    So suppose that Jane and John are up late one night doing cocaine and whisky shooters. Whilst high on drugs, they decide to rob a convenience store and in the process Jane assaults the store clerk. Now on both a drug and adrenaline ‘high’ John gets a little frisky but Jane says ‘no.’ John, being physically stronger than Jane, forces himself upon her and rapes her.

    So, the next morning after the drugs and adrenaline have worn off, Jane realizes she’s been raped and reports this to the authorities. They, of course, ask some pointed questions about the circumstances of the rape and in due course the details of the drugs, robbery, and assault come out.

    Should the police give Jane a pass on the drug, robbery, and assault charges because she was raped? Does that ‘top’ everything else? She is, after all, a victim of rape so should we simply overlook all other concurrent criminal violations? If the police make a habit of prosecuting associated criminal acts that the rape victim may have committed, wont that have a chilling effect on reporting rapes?

    What about the store clerk? She was assaulted as well. Does her simple physical assault get ignored because of the sexual assault that Jane suffered? Do the police tell her “sorry, the lady who pistol whipped you and left you paralyzed was raped later that night, so we can’t prosecute her. I’m sure you understand.”

    I’m going to assume that no one wants to argue that the drug use, robbery, and especially the assault charges against Jane should not be pursued by police. If you do want to argue that, please feel free to try and make that seem rational, especially to the poor store clerk who will never walk again.

    Now back to BYU and the honor code. How exactly is this situation any different than a woman who violates BYU “law” (honor code) and subsequently is raped? Does BYU have to completely ignore all their only policies and rules, some of which exist specifically to protect against sexual assaults, just because a sexual assault occurred? How does that make any logical sense? Why is the BYU honor code any different than a city ordinance, or a state, or federal law?

    No one is suggesting that the rape not be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, the fact that a rape occurred does not justify or eliminate the other crimes (honor code violations) that were committed in conjunction with or proceeding the rape.

    On another note, as to the idea of women being completely inculpable for a rape. I find the absolutism a bit over the top. Again, perhaps an analogy will help. Let’s say I walk through the rough part of town with hundred dollar bills hanging out of my pockets and I get mugged. Do I bear any responsibility for this at all? Was I completely reasonable in what I was doing? Seems like I have to take just a little responsibility for my own poor judgement (not for the crime, but for being in the wrong place at the wrong time). This is why, for example, if you leave your keys in your car and someone steals it, they may be prosecuted for the misdemeanor of “joy riding” rather than the felony of grand theft auto. This is because the law recognizes the irresponsibility of the car owner in leaving the keys in the car.

    I’m not saying that women are responsible for the crimes committed against them, rape in this case. What I am saying is that they are responsible to reasonably protect themselves. If you go to a biker bar alone wearing nothing more than a see-through top and a sheer lace thong and then proceed to get falling-down drunk, you can’t wake up the next morning and feign surprise that something untoward happened to you last night. You aren’t responsible for the rape, but you are 100% responsible for knowingly putting yourself in a dangerous situation where any reasonable person would expect you to be raped.

  373. Mr. Brown,
    First: Assault and Robbery are not the same thing as doing drugs or drinking. Calm down.
    Second: The Honor Code Office is not the same thing as the Police force. They have different concerns and are able to affect different punishments. For good reason.
    Third: So, the analogy is stupid and doesn’t work. As has been discussed ad nauseum in this thread already. So thanks for not reading the thread beforehand so we can discuss this again.
    Fourth: Barring blackmail, I cannot force someone to commit a crime against me. Even if I’m being stupid. It is still a crime, a mugging, a rape. No amount of personal risk on my part compels another human being to harm me.
    Fifth: “I’m not saying that women are responsible for the crimes committed against them” Yes you are, you horrible, horrible person.

  374. “But rules!” (Ugh.)

    Seriously, though… many states do not charge parents with child abandonment if they drop a baby off at a police/fire station b/c any punitive measure against the parents that impedes the greater good of saving a child is seen as illogical or undesirable. One would hope for a similar common-sense approach when seeking the greater good of apprehending a sexual assailant.

    Put another way, if society is level-headed enough to set aside punishment for child abandonment when appropriate, maybe one day we might even see the wisdom in letting it slide when someone commits a *really* serious infraction, like breaking curfew. *sigh*

  375. pconnornc says:

    There has been a tremendous amount of outrage and vitriol in these posts, but when I boil things down, here are my take-aways:
    o BYU (like other college campuses) has a rape issue (all it takes is one)
    o BYU (like other college campuses) seems to be trying to progress & learn (I was pleased that the conference was held in the first place)
    o BYU won’t apologize for the honor code/implications but…
    o BYU has recognized potential for conflict and have a) called it out in their policy and b) as Michael Austin details, in execution do not investigate “other” infractions related to an assault (he explains above)
    o Madi’s terrible experience seems to have been initiated by her attacker’s friends involving the HC and not collusion between Title IX/Provo PD
    o and, as always, once the human element is introduced there is ample opportunity for insensitivity, mistakes and misunderstanding

    I grew up in a college town and live in an area with 3 major (and more minor) universities – I follow news reports in both locations. This is not unique to BYU. I have followed reports of these issues at other campuses, and I can see where the HC gives our students a layer of protection against these type assaults. In too many cases I have read at other universities, alcohol/drugs were involved and muddied the problem exponentially.

    It also seems to me that the rape that would give the victim the greatest hesitation to call the police/authorities is not the stranger who assaults, but the boyfriend/acquaintance who assaults. No victim is ever to blame, but I would counsel my daughters to a) follow the HC as well as possible to minimize those risks, b) remember all that they learned in 3 years of Tai-kwon-do and c) that never, even if a & b are disregarded, does anyone have the right to take advantage of them and an attacker alone is accountable for his/her actions.

  376. Jane Smith says:

    I do not think Michael Austin represents BYU. He is at a different university. BYU’s policy states they will deal with the issues separately. The key point being, the issues will be dealt with and that is what creates the fear.

  377. it's a series of tubes says:

    How exactly is this situation any different than a woman who violates BYU “law” (honor code) and subsequently is raped?

    plz see Kevin’s excellent explication of “malum prohibitum” and “malum in se” upthread, kthx.

    Sad to see that the answer to Christ’s first question in John 8:10 is “Right here in this thread.”

  378. Jane Smith says:

    Also, the friend of Madi’s rapist turned the report into the Honor Code office. Title IX provisions are supposed to protect against retaliation. In this case, the HC was used to retaliate against the victim for reporting the crime. It’s all pretty horrific. Maybe the friend was reporting his rapist friend, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

  379. If I hear “no victim is ever to blame, but…” ONE MORE TIME

  380. pconnornc says:

    Apologies Steve – I think the tension is a bit high on this thread and, at least for myself, I felt the need to qualify w/ that statement before I stated the counsel I would give my daughters – lest I get jumped on from another angle! Telling someone precautions to help protect themselves in now way says that those who are victims are somehow at fault because they did not!

  381. pconnornc says:

    Jane Smith – Yes, I misread – he represents a university, but does not say or imply BYU. His point re: policy probably applies to BYU as much as any university and hopefully BYU is trying to follow what he describes.

  382. pconnornc,
    I think the whole point of this post is that his point re: policy does not apply to BYU.

  383. EBK is correct. Or to be more pointed about it, BYU could follow the principles of victim protection and rape prevention that Michael Austin described, but BYU has chosen not to.

  384. It also seems to me that the rape that would give the victim the greatest hesitation to call the police/authorities is not the stranger who assaults, but the boyfriend/acquaintance who assaults.

    This is *by far* the greatest scenario in which rapes are committed. It’s what we as a Mormon culture don’t seem to understand. We think rape is when a stranger in a trench coat attacks an unlucky woman in a back alley. Far more common, especially in Mormon culture, I would guess, is when a man either convinces a woman to do sexual things she doesn’t really want to (using arguments relating to religion or invoking the priesthood) or drugging her or forcing her while on a date.

  385. In this case, the HC was used to retaliate against the victim for reporting the crime.

    This is *exactly* what happened here — and it is immoral. The rapist’s friend was able to use BYU’s honor code to retaliate against his friend’s rape victim for turning him into the police. It really is that simple. And it worked, because BYU.

  386. @Renee-April 11, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    People are carrying on about this on facebook as well, talking about “rape hill” and all the assaults that have occurred on campus. The reality is, there was one assault of a female near the Maesar Hill in 1979 or 80 and it wasn’t sexual.

    You may want to rethink your comment.
    Technicalities and under-reporting obscure BYU campus crime reporting. The report shows 1 rape in 2014, and 17 other sexual offenses.

    Under-reporting is also an issue, especially with sex crimes.

    “We know things are happening on campus, but (students) are not coming forth,” said University Police Sgt. Elle Martin, who is responsible for crime prevention efforts at BYU. “It’s heartbreaking, and I want that to change so bad.”

    Lauren Barnes, a BYU assistant clinical professor and marriage and family therapist, said under-reporting is evident in the annual safety report. She said other therapists have helped students report forcible sex offenses, but some students don’t feel comfortable reporting the crime to higher authority. “They’re usually pretty hesitant because they think they’ll get in trouble with the Honor Code Office,” Barnes said.

  387. James Brown says:

    @John C, thanks for keeping it civil and kind. I always appreciate comments from those who are willing to discuss the issues instead of stoop to ad hominem attacks.

  388. These hypothetical situations are useless. They have nothing to do with rape, the Honor Code (which is actually NOT law), and should not be misconstrued to seem as they do.

    And Jane – the Honor Code Office was used as retaliation in my case. The friend of my rapist turned my report in into the Honor Code Office in order to retaliate against me.

  389. Mr. Brown,
    Bless your heart.

  390. @ml (9:27): Take a look at the article that Pete linked:

    It shows that there are some problems with the Clery report. Keep that in mind when you do your data comparison.

  391. James Brown says:

    @it’s a series of tubes
    >> “read Kevin’s excellent explication of “malum prohibitum” and “malum in se” upthread”

    I did and I don’t agree with his OPINION of of what is and is not important (e.g. evil in and of itself). For example, Kevin says that stealing (copyright infringement) is only wrong because the state says it is. I heartily disagree. Stealing is evil in and of itself. You can’t take someone’s property, that’s just evil.

    To argue that one violation excuses another or that one is so much more important that it should completely exclude or eclipse another is simply false. That’s an “ends justify the means” argument and we have consistently rejected such “logic.” For example, the police can’t search you, find something incriminating, and then say “I had no cause to search them, but look what I found!” We don’t excuse the “less important” crime of illegal search (one, BTW, that is purely “because the state says so,” if you disagree ask the state in China or Russia if they have such protections) because a “more important” crime (say murder) is discovered. Plenty of criminals regularly get off because of “technicalities” / lesser crimes committed by the police or the state (prosecutors).

    BYU is doing the right thing by investigating both the criminal act (rape) and the associated honor code violations.

  392. James, good luck to you.

  393. James Brown says:

    >>> “These hypothetical situations are useless. They have nothing to do with rape, the Honor Code (which is actually NOT law), and should not be misconstrued to seem as they do.”

    The HC is the “law” of BYU. Every group has the right and responsibility to create rules or “laws” to govern their members. We call them different things and we enforce them in different ways but they are all ‘laws’ in one sense or another. A home owner’s association creates ‘rules’ that govern those who live there. A university creates an ‘honor code’ to govern those who attend. A city creates ‘ordinances’ to govern those who live within its borders. You can keep going up and up from there. The fact that they have different names, rule, code, ordinance, law, commandments, etc. does not change the fact that a group has established a set of guidelines that it imposes on its membership.

  394. Okay, we get it. Your main concern is ensuring that any infraction of any rule made up by anyone is stringently enforced. It doesn’t bother you that this causes women who have been raped at BYU to choose not to report their rape to the police out of fear that the honor code office might decide that something the victim was doing at the time of the rape was against one of its myriad rules and then punish the victim of the rape. We seriously get it.

  395. I’m burning all my James Brown records, this guy is a doofus. Yes, even Live at the Apollo.

  396. “BYU has to figure out how to make it safe for victims to come forward to report rape and other assaults.”

    It’s not hard to figure out. Make clear that if you’ve been raped, you’re not going to be turned in to the honor code office for separate punishment if you happen to have been breaking a rule when the rape happened. Very, very simple.

    This doesn’t erase the honor code — any salutary effects you are ascribing to it will still be there.

  397. Jane Smith says:

    Thank you for having the courage to report your rape and highlight these issues. I am so sorry BYU has not been a safe place for you and that the Honor Code was used in such a horrendous fashion to make your traumatic assault worse.

  398. Clark Goble says:

    Trond, as I mentioned earlier I don’t think it’s that simple. If a person fears retribution from others (for example the rapist’s friends) then the problem remains. Not just for events around the assault (say drinking at the party the assault took place at) but for perhaps other parties the victim may have been to. Likewise there are trust issues regarding the people in these departments. (Somewhat understandable) Yet even if you make an absolute “no honor code violation” investigation at any time for events surrounding rape you create other bad incentives that undermine rape reporting as well. As I said I don’t have any good solutions for what we do. But I think we should recognize that it’s just not simple. I do think a better solution is to have the Provo police rather than campus police handle cases though. I also think having some degree of wall is helpful although I don’t know how big of one.

    The other issue not brought up yet is that one would hope that the honor code department would be learning about rapists or proto-rapists if they are attending BYU. Removing such people from BYU while not solving all problems (BYU students date or encounter non-BYU students regularly) would make campus safer. My own experience is reporting people, while 20 years ago, makes me skeptical the honor code will take reports seriously. (I reported someone who a few weeks later was apparently arrested for two rapes that I think could have been prevented by more aggressive action)

    That is, even acknowledging the many problems inherent to the honor code system it has a very important role in reducing the danger of rape and “rape culture” around campus. They should have a goal of making sure such predators are removed from campus. Further, because BYU has the honor code you’d think this would be much simpler than at other universities where sex isn’t an issue if consensual. At BYU the he said / she said seems less of an issue. Likewise as others noted reducing the amount of alcohol and drugs has a huge effect on people’s judgment (on both sides of the equation) that helps to reduce the dangers that often appear on other campuses. (I’m under no illusion drugs and alcohol aren’t common in the surrounding area – but its rate and acceptance is quite different thanks in part to the honor code)

  399. Eric Russell says:

    I also don’t think it’s that simple. Without an amnesty policy, a “non-reporting to HC office” policy is of little value. It doesn’t solve the problem of the HC office finding out from other sources, such as has been described here. And I don’t think it actually solves the victim reporting problem either. If I were raped while drinking or doing drugs, there’s no way I’m telling anyone associated with BYU – even if they “promise” not to tell the HC office. Only an amnesty policy such as SVU has would assure me it’s completely safe to report. Maybe I’m neurotic, but I’m probably not alone in that regard.

    And amnesty has its own problems. (Though I disagree with Clark that one of those problems is people exploiting the policy to seek immunity. It’s possible someone could try, but I think it would be pretty rare. Certainly not common enough that it would justify scrapping the policy.) The real problem with amnesty is that HC compliance is almost certainly a BoT thing, and that call is going to have to come from the chairman. IMO, that may not happen until that person is Holland. And that may not be for awhile.

  400. Clark Goble says:

    BoT? Not sure what that abbreviation means.

    Regarding false reporting I suspect it’d not be high in absolute number either but reports of it happening would get out and would undermine trust in rape victims far beyond its rate. We should want to avoid that. I’m not saying how we balance these difference costs. I just think we should think through the issues and be aware of what costs we are balancing.

  401. Madi, I am so sorry that BYU further victimized you. This policy is horrendous and you have shown so much courage in speaking out as you have done. I hope for the best possible outcome for you (starting with conviction of your rapist!).

  402. Jack of Hearts says:

    I’m assuming BoT is Board of Trustees.

  403. If BYU is in the business of investigating and potentially punishing reporters of rape for honor code violations it arguably is engaged in a scheme–intentional or not–designed to drive down reporting of sexual harassment and sexual violence. On the face of it this strikes me as hard to square with it’s obligations under Title IX. As this becomes well-known I suspect the lawyers will be sorting it out.

  404. Band of Thrones?

  405. It makes me sad that rape culture is still a thing at BYU. I was raped my freshman year at BYU 10 years ago and was too scared/uncomfortable with the environment that I didn’t tell anyone for a year. And even then, it was just my family and close friends. I struggled with the after effects of that for years. I don’t think BYU has a healthy or realistic approach toward sexual violence. I think it demonstrates a lack of understanding on BYU’s part of the emotional, mental, and physical realities of rape. I wrote a blog post about it a year ago. It wasn’t really until I wrote that post and let all the feelings out that I finally felt okay with that aspect of my life. And that was NINE years after the rape. I just can’t believe that BYU is still perpetuating this negative culture and feel very sorry for any students there that feel this. I just hope they can find the support they need if anything ever happens and I would hate for anyone to go through what I did. Really makes me want to get involved in this conversation on a larger level. This is the post in case you want to read it:

  406. The message is clear and simple.

    If you are the victim of a serious crime and it gets reported by you or anyone else, then the BYU Honor Code will punish you for any violations discovered by said investigation.

    I assume they would draw the line at murder.

  407. Sister Chris says:

    I never thought my Heritage Halls bishop circa 1985 would be more progressive than today’s BYU. That blessed man sat our entire hall down and gave us the lowdown on date rape, what to do if we were assaulted, and how we should never blame a victim for an attack. He laid it out in plain language and made sure we knew we had resources to help us. Why isn’t *that* guy in charge?

    Here’s a radical idea: maybe the Honor Code office needs to recuse themselves in the cases of sexual assault. Period. Their authority is bureaucratic, not ecclesiastical and certainly not legal. The HC, if informed, should refer the cases to the proper authorities (or allow the cases to play out by the proper criminal investigatory bodies if they are informed after the fact.) They could choose to step in only after the courts/police/the legal system/the medical system wrapped up their processes and if there was compelling reason. The truth is, they have NO BUSINESS involving themselves in criminal matters. A policy of recusal would allow all victims of sexual assault–men, women, same-sex victims–to have their day/week/month/year in court without the threat of retaliation and broken confidentiality. If some creepster wants to “out” a rape victim the way Madi was to the HC, the HC politely sends the creep on his or her way. Bishops and ecclesiastical leaders are supposed to report crimes to the authorities and let the authorities handle it. Why should the HCO be different?

    I have know, via my kids, about the Honor Code office being dragged into stupid petty fights between roommates where a roommate reports another to the HC office as a way to “get back at them,” or an angry ex decides to get revenge. I’ve had professor friends comment about students who’ve been caught in these HC investigations over ridiculous issues. I bring this up to demonstrate the point that many BYU students are aware that the state police Stasi-like “You’re guilty until proven innocent” approach utilized to enforce the Honor Code rewards and supports retaliation regardless of the infraction. A reporter is given the benefit of the doubt–the accused is not. To me, this Kafkaesque Honor Code bureaucracy that makes pretenses of protecting the integrity of the institution is rather doing the opposite. A bit like Dolores Umbridge.

    Until the purpose and functions of the HC Office can be defined in such a way that it actually does what it purports to do in a manner befitting “The Lord’s University,” perhaps BYU’s senior administration needs to seriously consider stepping away from involving the HCO in matters of life changing–and life threatening–import. Let them focus on those sneaking boys/girls into the dorms past curfew, the couple groping in the backseat, and the keggers. Let the counseling department, the police, medical personnel and lawyers run the show on sexual assault until all sides can be vetted and given their day in court–where they belong.

    These are smart people. Surely they can come up with a neutral, amnesty granted way that the university can help victims report assaults to allow them to get the help they need.

  408. Also, this is clearly a deterrent(I assume unintentional) to report rape and other serious crimes.

    Go to the real police people.

  409. pconnornc says:

    Person, we don’t have BYU on the record here so I am confused how the message is “clear and simple”. In fact, with the case that Madi has shared, it was her attacker’s friends who made the HC complicit. I don’t think it was said whether they were aware of the victim’s attack or not.

    Unfortunately whether it is the HC, the police, employers or families, it is not uncommon for attackers to threaten to or to actually use leverage with outside influences to further victimize. Often the attackers make these people complicit without disclosing the full details. I know a family that temporarily pressured a daughter/sister because of influence from the attacker – and were sickened when they got the full story.

    Beyond the HC’s on the spot comment @ the forum, is it possible for someone w/ connections to get a statement of the policy/practice @ BYU & the HC office?

  410. pconnornc says:

    Sister Chris – unfortunately the leveraging of the HC office for petty vendettas is not a strategy unique to BYU. Many colleges have a variety of teacher/student/fraternity/sorority panels that get drug into best case silly, worst case torturous conflicts.

  411. Clark Goble says:

    Sis Chris (1:42), I can’t speak for what goes on now but at the beginning of my Fitness for Life class a pretty similar speech was given (mid 90’s). I don’t know if it was in all sections or if it continued though. I do hope plain speaking is part of introductions for Freshmen. It should be – and not the presumption most unfortunately have that this is just an issue for women. Men are raped, groped and so forth as well – albeit likely at rates significantly lower than women.

    How you describe the honor code office is definitely how it was when I was at BYU 20 years ago. I think the incentives are such that it’s very hard for it to be other than this. I’d just say that not only does it get wrapped up in petty roommate disputes but when valid information is presented it did fell down on the job. (I’ve no idea what was going on behind the scenes of course nor how common this was)

    To your other points I think there are some tradeoffs of having an absolute block on any honor code violation. Whether it’s worth it will vary. I worry about unintended consequences that might ultimately hurt things. Others (like Eric above) think it far less of a worry. I just see the press of false accusations and worry what that does for victims going to the police or being believed. Right now there’s a recognition of the problem and a presumption they are right. I’d hate to see that change.

  412. Eric Russell says:

    Clark, obviously you don’t read Cougarboard, where it is used often. They are very concerned about any decisions made at the very top.

  413. However well-intentioned BYU’s honor code originally may have been, the way it is administered is deeply harmful. The Honor Code Office is a punitive institution that works its will through fear and threats. To shield rape victims would run counter to the university’s basic method of creating fear around the honor code. That is why Ms. Westerberg can frankly acknowledge that she understands the chilling effect of BYU’s policy on rape reporting, but she doesn’t care.

    After spending over a decade at BYU in various capacities, I came to believe that BYU’s honor code perpetuates a dark dysfunction that extends beyond BYU’s campus. It teaches students that “honor” is primarily about avoiding rule-breaking rather than enlarging one’s integrity. It teaches students to ignore the beam and obsess about the mote. It teaches students that the way to preserve the system is by imposing retribution rather than offering succor. Having absorbed this toxic part of BYU’s culture, many students then take these attitudes into their wards, their professions and their personal relationships throughout the world. We see the unforgiving authoritarian mindset in many comments on this thread.

    To be sure, there are also many healthy and righteous influences at BYU. But there is no excuse for the degrading practices that surround the honor code.

    I don’t expect a sudden, global change in BYU’s honor code culture, but it would give me some hope if BYU comes to recognize its error in failing to protect rape victims. If a change can happen in this small but crucial part of BYU’s policies, then perhaps other changes can happen too.

  414. Hmm. I just read my comment again and it comes off as darker than I intended. I think that for most students the healthy and righteous influences at BYU outweigh the problems, on the whole. Again, that doesn’t excuse the toxicity of the honor code. And for the students who are actively harmed by the honor code, there is only cold comfort.

  415. Clark Goble says:

    Tom honest question. How would you reform it? I agree it’s a mess in implementation. However with all the incentives involved I’m not sure how it could be functional. There’s simply too many incentives for people to use it to punish others – often innocent people. (Here thinking the honor code broadly) As bad as it is I think it at least has the prospecting of reducing “rape culture” around BYU by making more safe areas for non-drug/alcohol dating and helping roommates have some control over their environment. My big concern is that whatever the official policy of the office that what happens in practice might well not line up.

    If you leave enforcement of the norms with Bishops it’s simply unlikely they’ll get the full story so that they might make judgments with poor data. And they aren’t apt to have the time to do investigations. If you simply get rid of the honor code you make it much easier for people who have no intention of following acceptable behavior to take up slots at BYU from people who would live the standards. Not to mention having big effects on others around them (like roommates but also a larger culture that would victimize more people).

  416. Eric Russell says, “If I were raped while drinking or doing drugs, there’s no way I’m telling anyone associated with BYU – even if they “promise” not to tell the HC office.”

    Then you are a terrible person. That you would not do what you could to stop a rapist in order to protect yourself is despicable. In these cases it wouldn’t be BYU protecting the rapist, but YOU. You would be the one ensuring the rapist faces no punishment. You would let a RAPIST, someone who traumatizes others in the most intimate and demeaning way possible, go without punishment or reprisal in exchange for avoiding some public shame? To avoid a punishment for an act you DID in fact commit? Even if it meant expulsion from BYU, in order save yourself the inconvenience of transferring to a new school, you’d leave a rapist on the loose to claim other victims?

    I hate this mindset with a passion. I can understand after the rape that making a decision might be more difficult because you are dealing with all the other emotional/physical aspects of the trauma. But that you can announce before hand that you will choose your own selfish ends and convenience over the potential of stopping one of the most vile behaviors/acts that occurs is loathsome and worthy of scorn.

  417. That you would not do what you could to stop a rapist in order to protect yourself is despicable.

    Think about what you are saying about a victim of rape. That she is despicable if she chooses not to tell because she is afraid that in addition to being raped, she might be punished if the honor code office perceives that she was violating one of its rules when the rape happened. It’s a shameful thing to be saying.

  418. I think we’ve pretty much hashed out the arguments at this point. Feel free to chime in, anyone, if you have pertinent personal experience or a new outlook on the topic. Thanks.

  419. Clark Goble says:

    Trond as per Steve I’ll drop out of the discussion. I think I’ve said everything I have to say at this point. I do think though you are underestimating the pressure on a fairly immature 18 or 19 year old who is going to be expelled for perhaps consensual sex they then feel bad about to grasp at anything to stop it from happening. Again, I don’t think it would be common. I think it’s naive to think it wouldn’t happen given the incentives and the large population. And it only has to happen a few times and get widely reported to have an effect on the mindset of people to dismiss people’s claims that are real. Thereby you end up making people who have been assaulted less likely to believed effectively victimizing them again.

  420. I think I see something out there, moving amongst the goats.

  421. This is alarming. As a church community we are already vulnerable to predators due to our culture of being open and trusting with others. This just adds another layer that ends up making it easier for predators to operate among us. I will be following this closely as my children grow. Perhaps looking at what resources are offered on and off campus at other universities for sexual assault victims and just utilizing the institute program for social/spiritual benefits is a better option for now. Disappointing, a church university should be setting the gold standard in this department ☹️

  422. Some schools exempt victims of sexual assault from being held accountable for underage drinking or other school code violations. Unfortunately, this has led to several false rape and assault accusations. Got caught? About to get expelled? Simply cry rape and get out of it. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely agree with the point this article is trying to make. I just want to point out that it is not as simple as it sounds. I would love to hear of a solution that protects all innocent parties.

  423. Can you provide links to any actual cases, Sherry, or are you speaking about hypothetical false accusations?

  424. Eric Russell says:


    I was speaking as if in the moment, so there’s nothing beforehand about it. But I understand what you’re saying. And before I married a therapist I might have felt similarly!

    Someone who has enrolled at BYU and is secretly drinking or doing drugs probably isn’t in the most emotionally healthy state in the first place. And then after having been raped, dramatically less so. The only thing that person needs at that point is absolute unconditional love, support, and safety. Whether they’ve acted in a self-serving way or the degree of responsibility they may hold for themselves is totally irrelevant in terms of what is needed to heal. This isn’t a hippie liberal thing either. There’s a great deal of science on it. Check out anything by Bessel van der Kolk or Dan Siegel, for starters.

  425. This has gone on quite long enough. I’m reporting each of you. Comments are closed.

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