The protest follows outrage over the rape case of sophomore Madi Barney, 19, who reported to Provo, Utah, police that she was raped in her off-campus apartment during a date.
In an online petition she started that already has almost 100,000 signatures titled “BYU: stop punishing victims of sexual assault”, Barney writes she initially waited four days to report her rape because she feared BYU would punish her somehow.
“I am a survivor of rape, and now BYU has put my academic future on hold due to their allegations that I broke the Honor Code in the circumstances of my assault”, Barney said in the petition. “BYU also promotes the safety and well-being of its students through its Honor Code, which is a commitment to conduct that reflects the ideals and principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”. Student Madeline MacDonald says when she was 18, she met a man on a dating website, and he sexually assaulted her (two years later, no arrests have been made).
BYU said this week it was considering changes and would examine the relationship between its Title IX department, which is federally mandated to handle sexual assault complaints, and its Honor Code Office. “If a woman has crossed any of these lines, she faces a different dynamic with a potential assailant, who can essentially say, ‘I’m doing this, and if you tell anybody, we’re both going down'”.
“Deputy Randolph never intended that BYU take Honor Code action against the female victim”, reads the statement.
And for two years, the case was swept under the rug, according to sources.
Brigham Young University President Kevin Worthen said in a new video that the school’s conduct code prohibiting premarital sex and other behaviors may prevent student victims from reporting sexual assaults to the school.
Honor codes are part of American educational tradition, a way to focus college students, many who are on their own for the first time in their lives, on the value of good citizenship and honesty.
“I hope we have a system that people feel they can trust, particularly again the victims of sexual assault”. She has said she’s struggled with classes after her ordeal.
It’s not clear exactly what element of the Honor Code the school believes Barney violated.
The Department of Education could neigher confirm or deny the complaint until it becomes an investigation. The police told the university about the incident, and then the university punished Barney. The university claimed to be meeting Title IX compliance standards when it began investigating Barney’s case. Randalph was charged with obstruction, but the Utah County Attorney dropped the charge. “I would like to meet with you and provide you with the information that we have received and give you an opportunity to respond”.
Though it’s hard to determine the exact breadth of the problem of a “rape culture” on campus, as many as 1 in 5 college women have reported in surveys to being victims of some form of sexual assault.