After concerns were raised in April about BYU’s sexual-assault reporting process, the university launched a website in May to obtain feedback on related matters. The website is part of a comprehensive study initiated by President Kevin J Worthen (BA ’79, JD ’82).
“We are listening to the concerns expressed about the reporting of sexual assaults to our Title IX Office,” Worthen says. “We care deeply about the safety of our students.”
To carry out this study, Worthen created the Advisory Council on Campus Response to Sexual Assault, led by Janet S. Scharman, a licensed psychologist who serves as BYU’s student life vice president. The other members are Julie L. Valentine, a BYU nursing professor whose research focuses on sexual assault and violence against women; Ben M. Ogles (BS ’85, PhD ’90), dean of BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences and former chair and director of clinical training in Ohio University’s Department of Psychology; and Sandra Rogers (BS ’74), BYU’s international vice president and former dean of the BYU College of Nursing.
“The members of the advisory council were chosen for their experience, expertise, and concern for every student at BYU,” says Scharman. “They have a deep commitment to preserving a safe campus environment where there is zero tolerance for sexual assault.”
The initiative has two primary goals: identifying changes that will help BYU work toward the elimination of sexual assault on campus and determining how to handle the reporting process for victims of sexual assault as sensitively and compassionately as possible, consistent with Title IX requirements. In 2011 the U.S. Department of Education clarified that Title IX, which protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance, applies to cases of sexual violence.
The council is specifically looking at potential structural changes within the university, the process for determining whether and how information is used, and the relationship between BYU’s Title IX and Honor Code Offices.
“I have every confidence that this group will bring forward positive recommendations that will ultimately make BYU a better place,” says Worthen.
To leave anonymous feedback for the council, visit feedback2016.byu.edu.