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Brigham Young University sends letter to students proclaiming transparency in Honor Code Office investigations

In a letter sent to students of Brigham Young University in Provo on Tuesday, the Honor Code Office explains some changes in transparency through its ongoing review to procedures in the Office.

In the Letter, Honor Code Office Director Kevin Utt addresses the several months of concerns raised by students over how the Office processes their investigations.

“What has most impressed me about you, as students, is your commitment to the principles of the Honor Code,” Utt said in the letter. “I have welcomed these discussions, which I have had with several hundred students – and counting… During this process, we have already made several changes.”

The letter details how confusing language posted in a online form of the universities housing office created confusion about reporting Honor Code violations. Utt said in the letter the confusing language was removed from the forum.

“As I mentioned in the Q&A posted in April, encouraging others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code is not synonymous with ‘turn someone in,'” Utt said.

Students will now know at the start of the first meeting with the Honor Code Office will know why they are there and the “nature of the reported violation,” according to the letter. The process will also detail the name of the person who reported the violation with exception to situations where it infringes upon the safety of the campus.

“If you are self-reporting, we want you to have a clear understanding of what we need to know to help you remain in, or return to, good standing within the university,” Utt writes. “I want to reiterate that you will NOT be presumed in violation of an Honor Code policy unless you either accept responsibility or the investigation process makes such a determination.”

The university pledges to give an explanation of the investigation process and the support resources available to investigation participants. Including the steps taken to find information to corroborate or dispute information in the original report and the possible outcomes if someone is found responsible for the violation.

The letter reminds students investigations of reports of sexual misconducts are handled by the Title IX. The Honor Code Office removes itself from these reports. The practice was formally implemented in 2016 as part of an officially BYU statement.

The reporting party’s identity and other information of sexual misconduct are kept confidential in these Title IX investigations.

“When I was hired as the director, I was asked to review each of the policies and practices of my office to be in accordance with current best practices,” Utt said in the letter. “The Honor Code process should serve to help students reflect and commit to the Honor Code, as they strive to achieve the high standards set forth by BYU’s Mission and Aims.”

The university says they will continue to review and address the concerns raised by the students of BYU.

When the Scroll contacted BYU-Idaho officials they did not have a comment on BYU’s announcement or about its own Student Honor Office.

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