BYU announced on Friday the addition of an amnesty policy for students who are victims of sexual assault, following up on a promise the university made in October 2016.

The new policy includes confidentiality, amnesty and leniency for those who come to the Title IX office and report sexual misconduct, according to a press release issued by BYU.

These changes will also be adopted by BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii and LDS Business College.

“Being a victim of Sexual Misconduct is never a violation of the CES Honor Code,” BYU said. “BYU strongly encourages the reporting of all incidents of sexual misconduct so that support services can be offered to victims and sexual misconduct can be prevented and stopped.”

Amy LaBaugh, Student Life vice president of BYU-I, released a statement via email to all students and faculty on Friday to inform of the policy change.

“Victims of sexual misconduct deserve our collective compassion, support and help; however, some decide not to report an offense to the university due to their uncertainty as to how that report will be received and handled,” LaBaugh said in the statement.

She said that, while the policy is not official yet at BYU-I, the Sexual Misconduct Policy is currently being revised to fit the new additions.

“That formal change in policy will take

Being a victim of Sexual Misconduct is never a violation of the CES Honor Code,” BYU said. “BYU strongly encourages the reporting of all incidents of sexual misconduct so that support services can be offered to victims and sexual misconduct can be prevented and stopped.

BYU

Official Press Release

some time; but for now, please know that anyone who reports an incident of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Office will not be disciplined by the university for any Honor Code violations occurring at or near the time of the reported misconduct,” LaBaugh said. “Being a victim of sexual misconduct is never considered a violation of the Honor Code, and we want victims to seek the help they want and need without any concern about their status as a student.”

BYU’s first major change, confidentiality, aims to help students who are afraid to come forward due to fear of Honor Code violations, as stated in the press release.

“To help address this concern, and to encourage the reporting of sexual misconduct, the Title IX Office will not share the identity of a victim or witness with the Honor Code Office or any responsible administrator unless requested by such person or a person’s health or safety is at risk,” stated BYU in the press release.

Amnesty will also be granted to anyone who reports sexual assault, including the victim.

“Anyone, including a victim, who reports an incident of sexual misconduct will not be disciplined by the university for any related Honor Code violation occurring at or near the time of the reported sexual misconduct unless a person’s health or safety is at risk,” stated BYU in the press release.

However, the university can offer support, counseling or education efforts to victims or witnesses who have violated the Honor code.

The university also announced a third part of the new policy, leniency, for those involved.

“To encourage the reporting of sexual misconduct, the university will also offer leniency to victims and witnesses for other Honor Code violations that are not related to the incident but which may be discovered as a result of the investigatory process,” BYU

When something like that happens, the victim often blames themselves and thinks they are the one who is in trouble. I think BYU-I is trying to change that, and I am glad they are doing it.

Leah Barnard

BYU-Idaho Alumna, Past Sexual Assault Victim

stated. “Such violations will generally be handled so that the student can remain in school while appropriately addressing these concerns.”

However, the university can offer support, counseling or education efforts to victims or witnesses who have violated the Honor code.

The university also announced a third part of the new policy, leniency, for those involved.

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

BYU also clarified that students who have committed sexual misconduct will not be granted any of these protections in the new policy.

Some feel the policy is a great idea.

Leah Barnard, a once victim of sexual assault and alumna of BYU-I, said she felt it was a great change in policy.

“For someone that goes through something like that, it’s hard to come forward and tell someone what happened,” Barnard said. “I was fortunate enough that I got the help I needed and worked through it. When something like that happens, the victim often blames themselves and thinks they are the one who is in trouble. I think BYU-I is trying to change that, and I am glad they are doing it. Maybe it will help more people, and to me, if it even just helps one person, then that’s one more person who doesn’t have to keep reliving the nightmare over and over again.”

However, the new policy change has not pleased everyone.

Former BYU student Madi Barney, who began a petition in April 2016 for the university to adopt an amnesty policy spoke out about the policy, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

“(The new policy) ‘sounds nice,’” Barney said in a Salt Lake Tribune article, “but the language is so loose that this could hypothetically not change anything.”

BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins expressed confidence in the new policy, according to a Salt Lake Tribune article.

The article stated that Jenkins referred to the confidentiality portion of the policy, which keeps the Student Honor Office from knowing who reported sexual assault.

If an investigation found evidence of past Honor Code violations, a victim or witness would be shielded from expulsion or school discipline.

This new policy has been in the works for the past six months after BYU and its Honor Code came under fire after over 50 students went to the Salt Lake Tribune.

They reported they had been sexually assaulted, and some were afraid to come forth for fear of discipline, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

BYU-I University Relations said they have no more comments on the policy at this time.