Category: BYU

Handling Rape at BYU

Sorry in advance for the downer of a topic, and trigger warning clearly, but this is something I came across yesterday and it’s really troubling me. The Salt Lake Tribune published an article two days ago detailing a terrible approach BYU has in the way it handles rape cases.  It’s a bit of a read, but I really encourage you to read it to get the full context of what’s going on.

For those of you who don’t click through, the basics are this: when a student at BYU makes a rape allegation, that student is also turned over to the Honor Code office to see if she was violating any honor code rules before the rape occurred. Let me restate that one more time to be sure it’s clear: a girl says she was raped. She tells the school. They tell the honor code office, and the honor code office looks into the rape, checking to make sure the victim wasn’t doing anything she shouldn’t have been doing before she got raped.

Doing what, exactly? Well, maybe drugs. Or drinking alcohol. Or getting too physical.

Because honor code. Can’t let those pesky students think they can get away with breaking the honor code just because they happened to have been raped afterward.

This is flat out unacceptable. Period. End of story.

First and foremost, it’s potentially telling the victim that the rape might have been her fault. “If you hadn’t been _______, then you wouldn’t have gotten raped.”

Sorry. This is never the case. Rape, by definition, is a person being forced to have sex against his or her will. A person could be lying in bed, clothes off, having a wild make out session with someone, and if that person suddenly changes her mind about what’s going on, then that’s it. Sex needs to stop.

“But what if she was dressed really provocatively?” “But she was totally leading him on.” “You can’t say it’s not partly her fault.”

I got a whole bucket full of Nope here for people making these sort of statements. Rapists rape. They consciously choose to ignore someone saying “no,” and have sex with that unwilling person anyway. Let me use a different example to make my point: say that I love fried chicken. It’s a well known fact that I just want to eat it about every day. And one day, my friend brings some of the world’s best fried chicken to school for lunch. I see it. I smell it. I want that chicken. So I reach over and grab it from his hands and scarf it down.

Not my fault, right? He knew I liked fried chicken. He shouldn’t have brought such great fried chicken for lunch. If he’d been smart, he would have brought oatmeal or a tuna sandwich. Right?

That makes no sense. It’s his chicken. He can offer it to me, but I’m not entitled to his chicken, no matter how much I like it or how great it smells. And say he thinks about offering it to me, but then I say something belittling, or he changes his mind? Do I get to eat the chicken then?

Why in the world would I have any “right” to? And who in their right mind would yell at him for bringing chicken to lunch in the first place.


With that out of the way, let’s talk about the other big problem BYUs approach in this situation is creating: it’s protecting rapists by discouraging rapes from being reported. If a girl knows she was out doing something against the honor code, and then she gets raped, she’s faced with terrible choice: report the rape and get kicked out of school, or stay silent and suffer and let the rapist walk around free.

How can BYU not see this is unacceptable?

The article has an interview with a girl who was on LSD right before she was raped. And she got kicked out for breaking the honor code. Not for getting raped, but for being on LSD. And sure, taking LSD can be a reason to be kicked out of the university, but BYU should look at it this way: if she really is an habitual LSD user, she’s probably going to get nabbed by the honor code sooner or later. Deal with it when it comes up later.

Because right now? You’re blaming the victim, and you’re discouraging people from reporting rapes. I get that you’re concerned girls will claim rape so that they don’t have to get booted for having sex, but statistics show false rape claims are few and far between. People know it’s a terrible allegation to make, and they just don’t make it without cause.

What would I like to see BYU do? Make a very public statement about how it abhors rape and will do everything in its power to ensure rapists are caught and prosecuted on campus. Give anyone making a rape allegation a free pass when it comes to the honor code. They’ve been raped, for crying out loud. Do they really need a lecture now on what they were doing before hand? Do they need to be “punished”?

Think this article is just a red herring? A one-off blip that doesn’t imply a larger problem? Then what about this article from 2003 that states 90% of rapes aren’t reported in Provo? Maybe there’s a connection? This article claims BYU’s a great place because it’s so safe. Maybe it’s safer than it seems because it discourages crimes from being reported? Think it’s just because it’s Utah, and there must be fewer rapes in Utah in general? Think again.

But all this is peripheral to the problem. There’s a clear right and wrong decision for BYU to make here, and they’re going with the wrong one. I hope it’s because they’re just tone deaf, and that they fix the problem quickly. Because I’d hate to think they pondered very long on this and still ended up with the current policy. Or that they leave it as is.

Very disappointed in my alma mater at the moment, and hoping they get a clue somewhere and fix this ASAP.

Lest You Think I Have No Clout

Just a quick observation for you today, as I’ll be in library meetings for the next 8 hours or something, I posted on Friday about how BYU and Utah should stop playing each other in sports. Clearly, the rest of the sporting world was listening, because less than 48 hours later, the teams had been paired against each other in the upcoming Las Vegas Bowl.

So let’s see . . .

A football matchup that hasn’t happened in over a year. Each team’s final game of the season. Bronco Mendenhall’s final game as a BYU head coach. Pac-12 pride vs. independent spirit. “Holy War.” (I hate that title.) Utah has won 4 straight against the Y, so added pride on the line. Winner take all.

I don’t possibly see how this could go wrong at all. I mean, if BYU loses, then half of Utah is going to be sullen and pouty for the next month or so, and the other half is going to be Gloat City. And if Utah loses . . . it’s going to be the same end result.

It’s like Alien vs. Predator, people. No matter who wins, we lose.

And it’s all because I wrote about how the rivalry should end. The sporting world panicked that my common sense approach to rivalries might catch on, and so they decided to squash that right away.

In light of this, my next post is going to be about how I should stop getting sent free money in the mail. Here’s hoping I get the same result . . .

BYU and Utah Should Just Stop Playing Each Other

Yesterday I had a post on my Facebook page about how I wanted much stronger gun laws, so today I thought I’d go with something on my blog that would be much less controversial. Much more . . . nah. Never mind. I want to talk briefly about the BYU/Utah rivalry. More specifically, I want to talk about how it needs to go away. Permanently.

When I was at the Y, the Utah games were always the biggest games of the year, of course. Fans and players alike got very hyped for them. There were some really fantastic games played, with come from behind victories and zaniness galore. I enjoyed going to them, and remember many of them quite vividly. And there are a slew I loved watching on TV. Why would I want that to end?

Because while there have been some great games, I don’t think it’s worth the vitriol and hate that ends up getting spewed by both sides of the rivalry. The BYU/Utah basketball game on Wednesday is a prime example, where you have a BYU player essentially sucker punch a Ute. I have no idea what was going on or being said on the court before that punch, but really it doesn’t matter. Any game (emphasis on game) that is making otherwise rational people behave like that is a sign that things have gone too far.

One of the reasons I think it got more heated Wednesday? For one thing, BYU hasn’t played the U in football, so the rivalry is reduced to this one game. Second, BYU was getting roasted by the U, so pride got involved. BYU has come under additional scrutiny this past year as we had a football brawl to end last year’s bowl, then had a football player appear to punch another player in the groin a few weeks ago, and had yet another football player appear to punch a guy on the other team this past week. Either this is a sign that BYU *really* wants a boxing program, or things need to get toned down a notch or five.

It’s sports. I get it. Tempers get heated. But the BYU/Utah games generally turn ugly off the field as well. I have family members who periodically break out in feuds over this sort of thing. It just isn’t worth it. (And this is speaking as a Yankee fan living in the middle of Red Sox nation. On a personal level, I have seen much, much more ugliness in the BYU/Utah rivalry than the Yankee/Red Sox one.)

So let’s just be done. Neither side “wins.” Neither side “loses.” I root for the U every time they play anyone but BYU. Why? Because I have family ties to the university, and I like seeing my family happy. These days, you read the comments of any article published on a BYU or Utah game in Utah, and the detractors of the other team show up in droves to make fun of their opponent and hurl all sorts of nonsense. People need to have something better to do with their lives.

That said, BYU is playing Utah again next year in football, so maybe this is all just a pipe dream. But a guy can always hope . . .

Go Cougars!

A Few Thoughts on the BYU/UConn Game

As you know, I took the fam to the BYU/UConn game last Friday. It had been over seven years since I’d last been to a BYU game, and I’d been looking forward to a chance to take the kids out and show them what they’d been missing. We’ve gone to some high school games, but there’s a big difference to be out in a large stadium with a huge crowd.

We had a really good time, despite some speed bumps. For one thing, Rentschler Field is just horrendous, from a logistical point of view. They close some of the roads down in the surrounding area at game time, and then parking is an absolute nightmare. It’s in the middle of this old air field, so there’s plenty of open space, but they make you park *way* out in the middle of nowhere, and then walk. And walk. And walk. Through a field that hadn’t been mowed in a week or so. When you get to the gate, there are just a few ways into the stadium, and you’ve got complete chaos getting in. Real roadblock. And then you’ve got beer being sold in the stands, which makes for a more . . . exuberant home crowd than might be preferable. (Selling alcohol at a university makes little sense to me. Most of the student body can’t drink legally, but I guess if it’s what the alumni want, then that’s how it’s going to go. And I suppose if your team’s getting pummeled, it’s easier to watch it happen drunk than it is sober. Or so I’ve been told.)

But despite all that, it really was a great evening. We’d bought our tickets through BYU, so we were in the middle of the BYU section. BYU fans from hours away had shown up–there were people there I knew from Maine to Pennsylvania, which was pretty cool. And because it was a good old fashioned drubbing, spirits were quite high in the BYU section for the whole time.  (Note: I don’t think it was nearly as much fun for the poor UConn fans who happened to be sitting next to the BYU section. And I felt kind of bad about that–they were very vocal whenever UConn did something good, and I tend to think it was because they were trying to show the away crowd that they could celebrate too. I didn’t see any BYU fans being obnoxious about celebrating, but when you’ve got a whole slew of fans packed together, obnoxious sort of grows organically, and there’s not much you can do about it.)

BYU fans going to the Texas game on Saturday might have a very different experience. I can’t imagine that one will be a blow out (in BYU’s favor at any rate)–as much as I enjoy watching close games, they can be a real beast to endure, and if you lose . . . no one likes that long ride home thinking about how you could have changed the outcome the whole time.

The kids had a great time for most of it, though by the end they were tired of being there. It was quite noisy, and they still don’t really understand what’s happening on the field. One day, perhaps. I kept trying to explain it all to them, but I’m not sure how much it helped. MC didn’t really cry at all, though. She was excited to see all the sights and sounds, but Denisa did have to take her for a fair number of walks before the night was over. (Big bonus points to Denisa for tolerating American football as much as she does.)

Anyway–it was a very fun start to the season, and here’s hoping the team’s pretty solid from here on out.

Are You Ready for Some Football?

September: the month when the awesome all begins. Summer is dead and gone at last. The bugs are freezing to death. You’ve got the wonderful quadfecta of holidays right around the corner (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Groundhog Day).

And you get college football.

Football of any sort, really. Tailgating, brisk nights, nail biting comebacks, chili dogs, hot chocolate.

September is almost enough to make living through summer worthwhile all by itself.

This year, I’m starting my September early. BYU is playing UConn this evening down in Hartford, and I’ll be leaving shortly to go watch it first hand. (If we choke like we did last year against Virginia, I shall be one sad puppy.) But consider this: the last time I went to an East Coast away game for BYU was back in 1984 when we played and beat Pitt.

1984 was also the year BYU won the national championship.

Clearly, the success of BYU on a national level hinges on my attending East Coast away games for BYU. So when we do well this year, I’d like all BYU fans to thank me profusely.

(I still remember that game. Not the game itself, but the events around it. I remember a bunch of people at the stadium giving me a hard time, continually asking “BY Who?” to which we’d scream back “BYU!” I remember really wanting a cool noisemaker, and almost getting very badly burned at the campfire. I also remember my dad’s tent stunk. Bad.

The things you recall thirty years later.

Anyway–I’m bringing TRC and DC with me to tonight’s game. Hoping they have the sort of experience they’ll vaguely remember in bits and snippets 30 years from now. In the meantime, watch the game tonight on ESPN and keep an eye out for the crazy bearded BYU fan and his two kids.

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