BYU students stage sit-in to urge changes to honor code 01

BYU students chant during a protest asking for changes in the honor code at Brigham Young University on Friday, April 12, 2019, in Provo.

After recent protests from Brigham Young University students and others demanding the Honor Code Office be reformed, BYU announced Tuesday three major updates to the Honor Code Office policies.

In a letter, the current director of the Honor Code Office, Kevin Utt, shared that since becoming the director in January he has met with “a number of students” concerned about how things are handled in the Honor Code Office. Utt said the office has been reviewing all of its procedures the past year and has made several changes, including the ones shared in the letter.

Utt referenced a Q and A BYU posted last month, where some of the alleged issues were addressed, stating that honoring the Honor Code “is not synonymous with ‘turn someone in.’”

In order to reduce anxiety students may feel about contacting the Honor Code Office, Utt said, the following “improvements” have been made.

  1. The Honor Code Office will inform students why they have been asked to come to the office and the nature of the reported violation at the beginning of their meeting. For those who are self-reporting, Utt wrote, it will be made clear what the office needs to know to help students remain in good standing with the office. Finally, Utt emphasized, students “will not be presumed in violation of an Honor Code policy” unless they either accept responsibility, or an “investigation process makes such a determination.”
  2. Students reported to the Honor Code Office will be told the name of the person who reported the violation, except in cases where it is necessary to keep the identity a secret for safety reasons.
  3. Students will be given an explanation of the investigation process, what it entails and what support resources are available to them during the process at the first meeting. The explanation will include what steps will be taken to find information either corroborating or disputing the reported violation and possible outcomes if a student is found responsible for violating the Honor Code policy.

Utt also wrote a reminder in his letter that reports of sexual misconduct are handled by the Title IX office and the Honor Code Office is not involved, a policy that has been in place since 2016.

Utt finished his letter by saying he wants students “to be respected and treated fairly throughout their interaction with this office,” and that the office will continue to address concerns that have been raised about office procedures.

Carley Porter covers northern Utah County and business for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at cporter@heraldextra.com.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!