FreeBYU has compiled the most extensive documentation of Honor Code enforcement available outside of BYU (through the hundreds of written accounts we’ve received in connection with our accreditation challenges and through other means – see some summaries at ATHCOE). Among these accounts, we’ve found extremely sobering the accounts of rape survivors who were traumatized a second time through their interactions with Honor Code Office staff and other BYU administrators.
We thus join Ordain Women in supporting BYU rape survivors and in standing with the efforts of brave victims and advocates who are working to address the faulty policies and practices responsible for this trauma. Colleen Payne Dietz of the victims’ advocacy group recently wrote:
This last summer, we as BYU Rape Survivors banded together in an effort to urge BYU to revise the way they handle victims of rape and sexual assault on their campus. Following much coverage by the media, BYU commissioned an Advisory Council that provided BYU with a report in October of last year.
Last Friday, BYU announced the hiring of a new Title IX coordinator and a brand new position hire of Victim Advocate. Together, a group of strong survivors and I drafted a response to BYU’s decision to hire internally for the positions of Title IX Coordinator and Victim Advocate. This decision reflects a gross failure on the part of BYU to commit to and act in a way to bring about change in the way BYU handles rape and sexual assault. We feel it does nothing but reinforce a systemic error in collective thinking at BYU. We are outraged.
As recently as May of last year, Tiffany Turley (newly appointed Title IX Coordinator) was against an Amnesty Clause, or an immunity for victims of rape and sexual assault to be pursued for circumstances surrounding the attack. This demonstrates to us that she will not be loyal to victims. This is an egregious failure. The “chilling effect” that BYU needs to overcome will only be perpetuated by appointing an individual who believes in this way. Victims will continue to fear punishment at the hands of the Title IX office. Many of us in the BYU Survivor community, when we turned to BYU for help, were shamed, threatened and absolutely wounded by the treatment we received.
By simply moving around existing personnel within an already offensive organization, BYU has shown they have not understood the true spirit outlined in the Advisory Council Report that they committed to follow. Please, hear our outrage! Feel our pain! We need your support as we continue to fight for a safer place for our sisters and brothers at BYU.
While we are focused on making BYU a safer place for our trampled sisters and brothers in an unpopular religious minority – those whose consciences dictate questioning or leaving the LDS Church – we cannot ignore the suffering of their fellow students who are, too often, victimized by the same administration and policies. You can read the letter that these survivors and advocates sent to university president Kevin Worthen, which was published in the Salt Lake Tribune, below.