Protesters call on BYU to make changes regarding Honor Code and sexual assault survivors

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PROVO, Utah – Dozens of protesters rallied near the Brigham Young University campus in Provo Wednesday, demanding changes to the school’s Honor Code as it relates to survivors of sexual assaults.

The protesters said they want BYU to do more to protect victims of sexual assault, specifically as it relates to enforcement of the strict Honor Code at the school—which is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Protesters delivered about 57,000 signatures to school officials, calling on them to change Honor Code policies.  The protesters printed those Wednesday morning, and by later in the day they had gathered a total of more than 94,000 signatures.

The group wants students who report rape or sexual assault to be given amnesty for any Honor Code violations they may reveal while reporting the crimes, because they say the fear of losing academic standing may prevent survivors from reporting an attack.

The protest comes after a student claims she was investigated for potential Honor Code violations after she reported a sexual assault. BYU has stated they are looking at changing their policies, but the survivor of the alleged assault said she worries the move is a PR stunt. 

The student claims she was contacted about alleged Honor Code issues after school officials received a copy of the police report relating to the alleged sexual assault.

Kelsey Bourgeois, a former BYU student, was among those at the protest.

“We are here to try to stop the silence that victims are facing when they've been sexually assaulted or raped,” she said. “They go to BYU, and then they are investigated by the Honor Code."

One by one, protestors came forward to speak.

“I am a survivor, and I have personally experienced the victim blaming and the shame from BYU students, from the culture in this valley, from the culture in the [LDS] Church,” Bourgeois said.

Current students, sexual assault victims from across Utah, and former BYU students like Kelsey Bourgeois banded together.

“We're here representing her and all of the other victims that feel silenced, shamed, investigated, even expelled or suspended from BYU for the circumstances surrounding their rape,” Bourgeois said.

Some at the protest had their arms and mouths secured with tape covered by a teal-colored ribbon, a symbol meant to raise awareness for sexual assaults that often go unreported.

“The administration at BYU needs to be held accountable,” one protester said at the rally.

BYU President Kevin Worthen said he will study the Title IX office and the Honor Code office to address any potential conflicts.

“We recognize that there are some tensions between those two,” he said.

Bourgeois took thousands of signed petitions to the Academic Vice President while marching with supporters.

“We really, really implore you to create an amnesty clause so that survivors feel like they can come forward and be really protected by BYU's Title IX office,” Bourgeois said.

“I'll be happy to take these, and will personally deliver them to President Worthen,” Brent Webb, BYU’s Academic Vice President, said upon receipt of the signatures.

In a recently released YouTube video, Worthen discussed Title IX and the school’s Honor Code and how they relate to victims of sexual assault as well as what the school can do to ensure the safety and well-being of their students.

41 comments

  • BOB

    When a 19-year old girl invites a 39-year old man into her apartment and starts playing touch and feel she has every right to shut down his engine at any point. If he doesn’t he will be charged with rape.

    Is the 19-year old girl very smart? No, she’s as dumb as a box of rocks.

    • J Jay

      Bob, the alleged rapist lied.

      He lied about his age.
      He gave a fake name.
      He lied about his marital status.

      This was premeditated on his part. Whether it was smart or not doesn’t matter. It was illegal.
      Since then, she’s shown bravery and courage.

      • BOB

        Did the alleged rapist lie about being invited into apartment for a little romantic touch and feel? The rapist was a predator looking for the straggler in the herd. Inviting him into her apartment was her first mistake, and getting frisky with him was her second mistake.

      • Hewwro

        Bob understands the struggle that rapists go through. It’s not their fault that their ears don’t hear the word “No”, it’s the woman’s fault because she doesn’t sound serious enough when she says it. Clearly, even if the woman says “no”, that means she still wants it — in Bob’s mind.

    • analogismos

      unlike you, i wasn’t there to know how the situations happened, or how each presented themselves to the other or to know all the life experiences that led to whatever decisions were made. Nor have i met any of the victims. I can therefor not answer your questions regarding the relative intelligence of one of the (multiple) victims. But i can state unequivocally that rape or any kind of assault (sexual or otherwise) is wrong and is the sole responsibility of the abuser. The real question at issue here is whether BYU’s Title ix office sharing info with the HC office and their totalitarian turn-in-your-neighbor culture discourages victims from reporting their experiences. If so, in addition to denying the victims access to legal/emotional/physical assistance, this allows the abusers to continue their “work” among other unsuspecting victims.

    • Hewwro

      If you bothered to watch the interview you would see that there are OTHER rape victims at BYU. This isn’t the first girl to be raped at BYU or any university for that matter. No rape is ever justifiable. Trying to blame the woman only makes you an ass.

  • FinnyWiggen

    I have no sympathy for this woman. She was raped, lied to, etc. And that is awful! The man should be prosecuted and locked up. None of that is her fault.

    However, having something awful happen to you does not excuse you from violating rules, nor from facing consequences for your own actions.

    If she violated the code of conduct, then she must face the consequences. Regardless of the fact that something awful happened to her. If she was in violation of the rules, prior to the rape, then the rape not withstanding, does not excuse her for facing the consequences of her violation.

    The rape is not her fault. She is only responsible for her own choices. But she IS responsible for THOSE choices.

    It takes a lot of courage to stand of for logic and common sense in today’s world. When so many people have abandoned principal. I commend BYU for pursuing her violations. They are in the right.

    • Hewwro

      You have no sympathy for her because she violated a rule? So she deserved to be raped then? By your use of the terms “common sense” and “logic” i can tell that you have none. Clearly you favor arbitrary rules over treatment of people.

      You’re a horrible human being and an idiot for your false use of “logic”.

      • BOB

        HEWWRO sounds like the kind of person who would think it smart to walk down a dark alley in Detroit at night waving $100 dollar bills around, or perhaps standing under a tree in a thunder storm.

      • BOB

        @HEWWRO
        Don’t put words in my mouth that aren’t there. I have sympathy for any rape victim. I just question the wisdom of women that attract the attention of predators. Smart women understand the concept. Get one of them to explain it to you.

      • Hewwro

        “Don’t put words in my mouth that aren’t there.”

        You mean don’t retype words back to you that make you look like a fool?

        “I have no sympathy for this woman.”

        You said it yourself… you have no sympathy for her. And now you do? Which is it?!

        “Smart women understand the concept. Get one of them to explain it to you.”

        Was that intended to be a witty insult? You failed miserably.

        Breaking a rule is not consent for a man to force himself upon a woman. No means no… no exceptions.

        You’re an idiot

      • BOB

        @HEWWRO
        You’re quoting a comment by FINNYWIGGEN and attributing it to me? Don’t put words in my mouth that I didn’t say.

      • BOB

        @HEWWRO
        Yes, rape = bad. I’ve never thought otherwise. I’m a former Salt Lake County deputy sheriff who has zero sympathy for criminals.

  • ANOTHERBOB

    @HEWWRO
    Bob wonders about the wisdom of tuning a predator on, and then seeing how far you can go before tuning him off. Smart girls understand the dangers and avoid the associated risks.

    • Hewwro

      Oh yes, it’s a woman’s fault for turning a man on. Bulls***. men can get turned on by merely catching a glimpse of a woman’s figure. Are all women supposed to dress up in clothing that covers them from head to toe so that they can’t be held responsible for turning a man on?

      Trusting anyone to come into your home is a risk, but that’s what predators do, they charm you and make you feel safe so you are willing to trust them. I know my limits and I know when a woman is saying “no”. Why aren’t you wagging your finger of judgement at the predator and pointing it at the woman?

      Your line of thinking is right in line with how predators think, and it promotes a culture of “rape is the woman’s fault”. If you get turned on and can’t turn yourself off, that’s your own damn fault. If a woman ever says “no”, and you persist, that is your fault. THAT is rape

      • Hewwro

        If there are murderers in society, why isn’t everyone getting murdered?

        If AIDS exists, why doesn’t everyone have it?

        Your question is broken.

        There are “other girls” being raped. Did you even watch the interview? There were several rape victims in the interview. Not every guy is a rapist, some know their boundaries. Just as I would never rape a girl, no matter how turned on I was, some men also have no inclination to rape a girl no matter how turned on she is.

        If at any point a girl says the words “No”, “stop”, or pushes you away… if you persist, you are committing rape. End of story.

      • BOB

        Everyone doesn’t get AIDS HEWWRO because everybody doesn’t go looking for love in a men’s public bathroom. Most of us learn from the mistakes of others. Unfortunately some of us just insist on being the others.

      • Hewwro

        Not every man goes looking to rape a woman, and no woman that trusts a man to be in her presence is asking to be raped . It EVER a woman’s fault for being raped, no matter how warped your sense of entitlement to her body is. I don’t care if a woman is undressing right in front of you, if she says “no”, a decent man would listen, a predator would make excuses for why he should continue… are you making excuses Bob? You may be a predator.

      • BOB

        Some women have common sense and some don’t. Predators don’t focus on women with commen sense …. they go after the foolish women with nothing between their ears.

      • Hewwro

        Really? So women jogging down a trail that randomly gets attacked by a man that is either hiding in the shadows, or is maybe running behind her is the womans fault?

        A woman, goes on a date with a man and they have a good time, leaving the woman with no reason to distrust the man. The man makes advances on the woman and she refuses, he persists — despite her physical and verbal cues. Clearly the man does not need to accept responsibility right? The man has no control over his hands ripping off the clothing of a woman screaming “NO! STOP”.

        You are completely F’dup in the head and a deplorable human being if you are going to blame a woman for being raped. You share an identical psychological profile to a rapist. I hope you never find yourself alone with a woman.

      • BOB

        @HEWWRO
        That’s why self assertive women carry Smith & Wesson Model 642LS LadSmith’s. They chamber .38 special ammo and are userful in sending rapists to the morgue.
        You really are kinda slow huh?

      • BOB

        @HEWWRO
        You really do like to put words in people’s mouth that they neither think or say. I’m starting to suspect that you have a screw loose.

  • Apologist JD

    Isn’t this like blaming the police when criminals are afraid to report crimes because the worse crime occurred during their commission of a second crime? Is the correct approach that no rule or law applies so long as something worse happens to you while you were breaking the rule/law?
    There’s nothing to protest here. If the guy raped her, let’s punish him as much as possible. If she broke the honor code, she needs to accept the consequences of those actions. Nobody is sanctioning rape. We are saying that having something terrible happen through no fault of your own doesn’t absolve you of responsibility for unrelated violations.

  • BOB

    Smart women take personal responsiblity for their safety and avoid risky dangerous situations. Inviting a predator in who is old enough to be your father for a little frisky frolic isn’t something those women would consider.

  • BOB

    @HEWWRO
    Do you ever think before responding to a comment? Why would you attribute a comment made by FINNYWIGGEN to me. Humm?

  • BOB

    HEWWRO like to put words in other people’s mouths to bolster her argument. That only works if you let her.

  • BOB

    The girls I respect are the ones who don’t date boys that have to be told no. There actually are some decent young men among us that treat women with respect. Of course there are some men (and yes some women) with the morals of alley cats. The best advice for those kind of women is to wear a chastity belt. That’s the only way some of them can ever hope to be safe.

  • Bob

    Sometimes I go by FINNYWIGGEN. So what. If a girl is sexual assaulted, she should be investigated for have sexual intercourse plain and simple. Rules are Rules!

    • BOB

      No you’re not FINNYWIGGEN. You’re a troll. Decent people and that includes all the decent Bobs, don’t belive that girls who are sexual assaulted should be investigated for have sexual intercourse.
      You don’t even believe it but do what trolls do best.

  • BOB

    If Madi Barney had been obeying the honor code she wouldn’t have suffered the consequences that resulted. That doesn’t excuse the rapist in the least but getting raped doesn’t excuse her violation of the honor code either.

    • BOB

      If you leave your purse laying around in a department store it is a crime to steal it. It is also careless of you to not take better care of it. If you are a young 19-year old girl messing around with a 39-year old man in your apartment it is a crime for him to rape you. Likewise, it is careless of you to violate BYU’s honor code and invite him in for a little touch and feel.
      On the one hand you have a criminal sexual assault and on the other hand you have a foolish girl who played with matches and got burned.

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