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BYU responds after students organize sit-in to call for Honor Code changes


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PROVO, Utah — Some students at Brigham Young University participated in a sit-in Friday afternoon to call for changes to the school’s honor code.

A movement to update the honor code gained traction earlier this month with the launch of an Instagram account devoted to the issue.

A sit-in was held near the honor code officer Friday afternoon. Fox 13 News’ Erin Cox spoke to some of the students behind the demonstration, who said they are in good standing with the honor code but would like to see changes.

“The scars are real, the damage is real, the abuse is real and it needs to end today,” said BYU graduate Brayden Smith.

Students say they surveyed around 3,000 current students; 76 percent say they want to see changes in the honor code – a code of conduct set for students that align with standards taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Just a few of the many standards it asks students to adhere to include having no sexual relations out of marriage and to use clean language.

Sidney Draughon, who started the Instagram account ‘Honor Code Stories’ that has more than 30,000 followers filled the account with stories similar to hers.

“I got called in for a tweet I favorited in high school and for a picture that was about a year old where I wasn`t dressed modestly,” she said.

Others were called in for what are considered more serious code violations and said they had to go through 15 months of counseling and even received a letter declaring whether or not they were suspended from the university.

They said rallying together helps them realize they’re not alone in this.

A spokesperson for BYU issued this statement regarding Friday’s demonstration:

“BYU cares deeply about the welfare of our students. We want every one of them to have a positive experience at BYU. We’ve seen the conversations about the Honor Code Office on social media and have engaged in discussions with our students. The director of our Honor Code Office has been meeting with students since last Thursday. These conversations have been very constructive, as students have shared with us their concern for certain processes within the Honor Code Office. In some cases, these concerns do not reflect current practices; even so, we recognize that it is our job to help students understand what processes are in place. This is one reason why we shared on Wednesday a Q and A with Kevin Utt, director of our Honor Code Office. Our goal has been and will continue to be to help our students succeed at BYU. The students we have met with are committed to the Honor Code and ongoing dialogue, which we believe will lead to a better understanding of how the Honor Code Office can best serve our students.”

Earlier this week, a large group of Brigham Young University-Idaho students held a similar protest outside campus grounds to demand reforms to the way the university handles violations of its honor code.

RELATED: Students protest handling of BYU-Idaho honor code violations

Around 150 former and current students held signs and chanted, “What do we want? Reform! When do we want it? Now!” Their goal was to convince the private religious university to change how it handles honor code violations.

The Rexburg university has declined to comment on the protest.

The BYU-Idaho protest gained momentum after news broke about the protest in Provo.

Both universities are operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and all students who attend agree to abide by the “Honor Code”, which includes religious, academic and moral guidelines.

Portions of this article were first published by fellow CNN affiliate KSTU. It is used here with permission.