SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Brigham Young University promised Tuesday to be more transparent in how it enforces its honor code, though some who protested their treatment at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-owned institution wonder if the changes go far enough.
The announcement doesn’t alter the code itself, which bans drinking, premarital sex, beards and piercings, but Honor Code Office Director Kevin Utt promised to be more transparent in investigating alleged violations.
The office will now identify who made the report, unless there’s a safety concern, and give the accused a fuller explanation of how the process works and resources available during what can be a nerve-wracking experience for students, Utt said in a statement.
“You will know at the start of our first meeting why we have asked you to come to the Honor Code Office and the nature of the reported violation,” he wrote. “I want students to be respected and treated fairly throughout their interaction with this office.”
Officials will also give students clearer explanations of how to return to good standing if a violation is self-reported or confirmed through an investigation. Utt said his office will continue to hear and address concerns.
The group Restore Honor said they’re very happy with the “baby steps” announced Tuesday, and optimistic more will happen down the road.
“We definitely want to see more, we’re going to keep pushing for more changes, but these are definitely on our list of what we want to see changed,” spokeswoman Riley Madrian said.
Letting students know what they’re being investigated for upfront is important, since students have reported being asked to admit transgressions rather than being told what the meeting is about, she said. Utt’s confirmation that students are presumed “innocent” prior to an investigation also key.
The changes come a month after Instagram account called “honor code stories” yielded a flood of reports from students who had negative experiences with how the college handled reports of transgressions and punishments. Nearly all students are members of the faith.
It also sparked a protest that brought several hundred current and former students to the Provo, Utah, campus holding signs like “If God forgives me, why can’t you?”
While some called for alterations to the honor code, which also bans same-sex dating by LGBTQ students, others said they were only pushing for changes to the tactics used by investigators.