PROVO — Following student criticism, Brigham Young University will now tell students why they’re being called into the Honor Code Office before they get there.
In the past, students would receive a “generic phone call” asking them to schedule an appointment with the office, according to a Wednesday news release from BYU. In May, the university made sweeping changes and said that students would be informed of the “reported misconduct” at the beginning of their first meeting with an Honor Code administrator.
Now, a new software adopted by the office will send students a secure message with a link that will let them log in and read a more detailed letter regarding the reason they’re being summoned and the student’s rights within the investigation process — before they step foot in the office.
BYU, a private university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, requires students to sign a code of conduct if they choose to attend the school. The Honor Code asks students to live by certain standards, including abstaining from alcohol, drugs, premarital sex and following dress and grooming standards.
Those who do not abide by the school’s code of conduct may self-report or be reported by another student or faculty member to the Honor Code Office. The office will then investigate the situation and determine if sanctions should be meted against the offender.
“Our review of how we serve students showed the importance of clear communication from our office,” said Honor Code Office director Kevin Utt in the news release. “This new system allows us to provide the details students want to know up front while still protecting student privacy.”
The new system will also reportedly help the office measure staff performance and look for “important patterns,” like assessing whether student misconduct cases are being handled in a "timely and consistent manner" for all students, the news release reads.
BYU received feedback and criticism about the Honor Code process from students after a viral Instagram account detailing students’ negative experiences with the Honor Code Office sparked outrage and protests. Many students were concerned with the lack of transparency surrounding Honor Code investigations.
Since the protest in April, the school has updated the office’s website, which now details the entire investigation process and clarifies that Honor Code employees are “not therapists,” just administrators.
Utt also noted that “in the past, there was an element of students using the Honor Code Office to resolve conflicts that could have been settled directly through effective communication.”
BYU provides students free, one-on-one consultations with professionally certified mediators in its Center for Conflict Resolution to help those students prepare to work through a conflict on their own. They can also provide “impartial and confidential mediation services that bring both sides together in hope of finding a solution.”
“Students who combine personal commitment with respect and compassion help create the environment that BYU strives to foster,” Utt said.