By 4 p.m. on Thursday, more than 14,000 people had signed a petition demanding that Brigham Young University halt Honor Code investigations of women who are victims of sexual assault.
The petition, posted on ThePetitionSite.com
, asks the school, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to institute an “immunity clause” into its policies for victims of sexual assault. Among other things, the school’s Honor Code forbids sexual relations before marriage and the use of drugs and alcohol.
Several sexual assault victims who attend BYU, including Madi Barney, who organized the petition, were featured Wednesday in a Salt Lake Tribune story
about BYU’s policies. Barney says she waited four days to report her rape to BYU out of fear for her academic future. According to the Tribune story, Barney’s rape allegation has led to a criminal case.
At colleges and universities across the country, victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the school’s Title IX
coordinator. Passed in 1972, Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding.
Barney says she reported her rape to the Title IX office, and that as this wing of the school launched an investigation into her rape, a separate investigation was launched by the Honor Code office—a de facto investigation of her activities.
“It’s clear to me that BYU is not on my side,” Barney wrote on the petition website. “I don’t deserve punishment for choosing to report my rape to the police. But now I have to deal with a criminal trial and an honor code investigation. I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I’m experience now. That’s why I’m insisting BYU creates a way for victims to come forward without being reported to the Honor Code Office.”
While her alleged victim is being investigated by the authorities, Barney says that her future at BYU is uncertain as an Honor Code investigation has prohibited her from registering for courses next semester. Carri Jenkins, a BYU spokesperson, did not immediately return a request from City Weekly
“I am a survivor of rape, and now BYU has put my academic future on hold due to their allegations that I broke the Honor Code in the circumstances of my assault,” Barney wrote in her statement. “I want victims of sexual violence at BYU to have an immunity clause from the Honor code so that they don’t feel afraid to report.”