BYU-Provo student says honor code creates fear, shame in rape victims
Cristina Flores, KUTV
Published at | Updated at
PROVO, Utah — (KUTV) A Brigham Young University student says that after she was raped and called police to report the crime, she was shocked when an investigator from BYU’s Title IX office emailed her, then told her she might have violated the school’s honor code.
“I felt revictimized,” she said.
Madi Barney said she was troubled that the school’s Title IX investigator didn’t offer her any support when she called.
“She only said we need to talk about the honor code. It looks like you violated it,” she said.
Concerns about how BYU’S honor code and Title IX offices treat victims surfaced last week at a campus sexual assault awareness event.
Briana Garrido, a survivor of child rape and a student at BYU, was one of the organizers of the event. She said it was meant to empower survivors of sexual assault and to educate others about an important issue.
During and after the event, she said women contacted her saying the threat of an honor code investigation creates fear among rape victims.
“They are afraid of coming forward about their assaults because they don’t know how it will affect their standing academically,” said Garrido of the feedback she got from women after the event.
BYU has a strict honor code that says students should avoid drugs, alcohol, bad language and should live a chaste life. There are strict rules about students having someone of the opposite sex in their apartment.
Madi says she was raped by a man she invited into her off-campus apartment in September of 2015. She says she never invited him into her bedroom – where he raped her.
Police documents say the alleged rapist later admitted to Madi, over the phone, that he raped her.
The man was charged with rape. The judge said there was enough evidence for his case to go to trial.
Later, Madi learned that a friend of the suspect took the police report to BYU honor code office – that’s how they became aware of the alleged rape. Now she had a criminal trial and an honor code investigation to worry about.
“It creates a totally hostile environment. It makes it feel like victims can’t come forward,” said Madi who feels like the school is, in effect, blaming her for her rape.
Carri Jenkins, spokesperson for BYU, declined to comment on-camera about complaints that the school has created a culture that blames rape victims. She emailed a portion of the school’s policy:
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.
In an exchange of emails, Jenkins said a report of rape would be sent directly to the Title IX office but would not be sent directly to the honor code office. Title IX is the federal law that prohibits sex-based harassment or assault which would impede a student from having full and equal access to the benefits of education.
Jenkins said several times that Title IX investigations have nothing to do with Honor Code Compliance.
Madi and other rape survivors contacted by Channel 2 disagree. She plans to transfer out of BYU after this semester. She feels let down by her school.
“I cannot stay here one more second,” she said.