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BYU Student Activists Cheer Changes, But Say There’s Still A Long Way To Go

Photo of students.
Daysha Eaton / KUER
BYU student Riley Madrian (left) with Restore Honor sits on the steps of the Ernest L. Wilkinson Student Center alongside Amy Jacobs, a BYU Alumna who is gay.

Brigham Young University quietly announced this week that the school plans to make its Honor Code Office more transparent, signaling a change that follows a campus protest in April that garnered national attention.

Students and alumni allege the office that oversees BYU’s Honor Code is riddled with problems.

For some who attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsored university, that starts with the honor code itself. Drinking, premarital sex, beards and piercings are just a few of examples of what’s banned by the code. Students say the office has also mistreated victims of sexual assault and harassment, especially women and LGBTQ students.

Since April university administrators have met weekly with members of Restore Honor, a student group which has called for reforms to the office. Riley Madrian, who is with the group, said the changes are good.

“One of our main overall goals is to not only change the policies, but use those policies to help change the culture,” she said.

BYU Spokeswoman Carri Jenkins explained the changes announced by Kevin Utt, the director of the Honor Code Office. But she also downplaying their significance.

“It’s not a major announcement,” she said.

The changes include immediately making students aware of the nature of the violation, who reported the violation and how the review process will unfold, Jenkins said. Administrators say more changes can be expected as meetings with students continue this summer.

Amy Jacobs, a recent graduate who is also gay, said the changes are a step in the right direction, but more than procedures need to be updated.

“The part about homosexuality in the honor code — it basically states that anything that gives expression to homosesxual feelings is against the honor code,” she said. “And that’s very confusing to me because I am a homosexual and I have feelings.”

She added that the code itself will need to change if BYU administrators want LGBTQ students to feel welcome.

Daysha Eaton reports about religion and cultural issues, including social justice, for KUER.
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