Brigham Young University will no longer investigate alleged victims of sexual assault for violating the schools strict code of conduct. The school announced Wednesday, it’s changing its policies.
This spring several alleged sexual assault victims came forward accusing BYU of punishing them for Honor Code violations after they reported being assaulted. After months of study, school officials say they will now ensure the Title IX office, which investigates sexual assault reports, will no longer share that information with the school’s Honor Code office. Julie Valentine was a member of the advisory council BYU officials created to look at potential changes.
“We want to get this right,” Valentine said. “This report is the beginning towards that. I’m sure there’s going to be additional changes, improvements that will need to be made, but this is a really great starting point.”
Valentine apologized to victims.
“We are very sorry,” she said. “We’re sorry for what they’ve gone through as being a victim of an assault. We are sorry that they did not feel supported throughout the process.”
Former BYU student and sexual assault survivor Madeline MacDonald says she appreciates Valentines sentiment, but would prefer an apology from BYU administration. MacDonald said the changes are everything she has advocated for.
“So my hope is that it becomes safer to report and that we have a lot fewer women that are living in fear on campus or women that aren’t able to receive treatment or support because they feel uncomfortable reporting,” MacDonald said.”
In a statement, BYU President Kevin Worthen said the school’s top priority has always been the safety and well-being of its students.
In addition to the new amnesty clause, BYU plans to hire a full-time victim’s advocate, whose services will be confidential and a full-time Title IX director.