BYU officially formalized its amnesty policy regarding sexual misconduct following recommendations the Advisory Council on Campus Response to Sexual Assault provided last October.
The addition of an amnesty clause to the Sexual Misconduct Policy represents full compliance with all of the suggested recommendations.
The amnesty clause includes provisions to encourage the reporting of sexual assault and misconduct while protecting the identity of victims and witnesses.
“Being a victim of Sexual Misconduct is never a violation of the CES Honor Code,” the clause reads. “BYU strongly encourages the reporting of all incidents of Sexual Misconduct so that support services can be offered to victims.”
The amnesty clause also includes measures to allow for more open and confidential reporting, which are intended to make it more likely for assault victims to receive “support, counseling, or education efforts to help students and benefit the campus community.”
BYU won’t discipline victims or witnesses who report any incident regarding sexual assault or misconduct for Honor Code violations that happened at or near the time of the assault unless someone’s health or safety is at risk.
The Title IX Office will also not share the identity of victims or witnesses with the Honor Code Office or faculty administrators unless those who have come forward specifically request it or someone’s health or safety is at risk.
The inclusion of the amnesty clause to Title IX policy and the advisory council’s survey represent the efforts of the university to increase protections for sexual assault victims following national attention, which began 13 months ago, about BYU’s policy.
The new policies are meant to create an atmosphere where victims are now able to report misconduct without fear of punishment by the university.
BYU’s campus climate survey on sexual assault closed in April of this year and is meant to discover ways to make the university’s campus a safer place for students.
A subcommittee of the advisory council created the survey after consulting studies from the Department of Justice and similar surveys from other universities. The survey collected data from over 12,000 BYU students. The findings from this research will be published this fall.
“We thought it was wise for the university to seek feedback from faculty, staff and student representatives,” said Julie Valentine, a forensic nurse and BYU professor who served on the advisory council, in the BYU News announcement. “I believe we now have a strong policy in place that incorporates all of the principles we recommended.”