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BYU separating Title IX and Honor Code offices, adding amnesty clause from Advisory Council recommendations

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Julie Valentine, part of the BYU Advisory Council, trains the BYU Police department on processing sexual assault documentation in January 2016. (Photo by Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo)

Julie Valentine, part of the BYU Advisory Council, trains the BYU Police department on processing sexual assault documentation in January 2016. (Photo by Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo)

Brigham Young University is adopting an amnesty clause to protect sexual assault victims, the school announced Wednesday morning.

“Our top priority has always been the safety and well-being of our students,” BYU President Kevin J Worthen told students in an email Wednesday morning. “This 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. We have an obligation not only to provide that support, both emotionally and spiritually, but also to create an environment where sexual assault is eliminated.”

The Advisory Council, which was made up four BYU faculty members, spent hundreds of hours studying cases and developing 23 recommendations for BYU on how to handle sexual assault cases — all of which the President’s Council accepted. While the university still needs to be reviewed by the Student, Faculty and Administrative Advisory Councils, these five recommendations will be implemented immediately as listed on BYU’s announcement.

  1. Create a new, full-time Title IX coordinator position to replace the existing part-time Title IX coordinator position.
  2. Create a victim advocate / confidential advisor position.
  3. Create a new, physical space to house the Title IX Office in a location separate from the Honor Code Office.
  4. Ensure that, unless the health or safety of others is at risk, the Title IX Office does not share information with the Honor Code Office about the complainant without the complainant’s consent.
  5. Adopt an amnesty clause.

“We have an obligation not only to provide that support, both emotionally and spiritually, but also to create an environment where sexual assault is eliminated.” —BYU President Kevin J Worthen

The other recommendations will be rolled out during the fall semester.

BYU turned its attention to investigating the relationship between the Honor Code Office and the Title IV Office after a BYU student, Madi Barney, accused the university of holding her enrollment after she reported being raped. Barney created an online petition calling for an immunity clause from the Honor Code for victims of sexual assault so they won’t fear reporting rape cases.

The Advisory Council was formed to help prevent sexual assault victims from becoming re-victimized through the Honor Code office. The Advisory Council is made up of four faculty members: BYU Student Life Vice President Janet S. Scharman; Dr. Julie Valentine, a BYU nursing professor whose research focuses on sexual assault and violence against women; Dr. Ben Ogles, the dean of BYU’s College of Family, Home and Social Sciences; and Dr. Sandra Rogers, the International Vice President at BYU and a former dean of the BYU College of Nursing.

Read the entire report by the Advisory Council here.

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