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BYU announces 5 policy changes following sexual assault investigation

Utah

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PROVO — Brigham Young University announced Wednesday that it has completed its study on the responses to campus sexual assault.

University President Kevin Worthen announced that the President’s Council has accepted all 23 recommendations from the Advisory Council on Campus Response to Sexual Assault. Worthen said the university would implement immediately five recommendations, including an amnesty clause in the school’s policy.

KSL reports Worthen also recommended that the university hire a full-time Title IX coordinator, create a victim advocate/confidential advisor position, create a space to house the Title IX Office that is separate from the Honor Code Office, and ensure that the Title IX Office does not share information with the Honor Code Office without consent from the victim.

Pres. Worthen said the university will be reviewing its policy in relation to the amnesty clause and that it needed to go before the Student, Faculty and Administrative Advisory Council before a formal policy was approved.

However, the current amnesty recommendation of the advisory council, which says that names will not be given to the Honor Code Office, will be in effect until a policy becomes official. It adds that the university will encourage the reporting of sexual assault and that amnesty will be granted to witnesses who come forward.

The proposed amnesty statement, which can be read in full on BYU’s website, says that sexual misconduct includes “dating violence, domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and stalking.”

“To encourage the reporting of sexual misconduct, the university will also offer leniency for other Honor Code violations that are not directly related to the incident but which may be discovered as a result of the investigatory process,” the statement adds. “Such violations will generally be handled so that the student can remain in school while appropriately addressing these concerns.”

The other four recommendations will go into effect immediately and others may be implemented at a later date.

In a letter addressed to the university, Pres. Worthen said: “sexual assault is an abhorrent offense that violates sacred doctrines — such as moral agency, the sanctity of the body and the sacred nature of marriage and sexual intimacy — that are central to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Sexual assault cannot and will not be tolerated at BYU.”

He added that the school’s “top priority” is the “well-being of our students” and that it is “particularly true for those who have been the victims of sexual assault.”

“They have been through a devastating experience, and they are looking for our help and support,” Pres. Worthen said. “We have an obligation not only to provide that support, both emotional and spiritual, but also to create an environment where sexual assault is eliminated.”

Pres. Worthen organized an advisory council in May to work to eliminate sexual assault on campus and to identify areas where the university could better handle the reporting of sexual assault, including its implications on a student’s status with the Honor Code Office.

“We’re not perfect,” Worthen said at the time. “We don’t claim to be perfect. We can be better. This is important enough that we owe it to the community to say, ‘This is the very best that we can do, and we’ve thought it through, and we’ve studied it through, and here’s the changes that we’re going to make.'”

An investigation was opened after a female student said the university’s sharing of information with the Honor Code Office keeps victims of sexual assault from reporting the crime.

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