Mormon-owned Southern Virginia University encourages students who are victims of sexual abuse to come forward.
What happens when a student or employee comes forward to report sexual harassment? Are they taken seriously? Does the victim get justice? The sad reality is, not often. Cases where students and employees have been forced to keep silent about being sexually abused are not uncommon. Often these students are even dismissed from their schools or employee victims are fired.
Brigham Young University (BYU), owned and managed by The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints did exactly that when its students came forward complaining about sexual harassment.
However, another Mormon-owned and managed school, although not owned by the LDS, Southern Virginia University (SVU), set an example of how students should be treated. While BYU lost its reputation for its rather cruel attitude towards students who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment, SVU has said it will do everything possible to encourage its students to come forward and talk about incidents that may have occurred.
At the helm of this controversy is the 'honor code' the LDS-run BYU adheres to. The honor code is a set of highly moralistic guidelines that prevent students from premarital sex, drugs, alcohol and even from sporting a beard. When students came forward in cases of sexual assault, BYU punished the sexual abuse victims, insisting they broke the honor code.
Good approach: "We should never ever assume sexual violence is not taking place on our campus." https://t.co/t886t7qdga
— Karlie Brand (@k_brnd) October 21, 2016
Southern Virginia University has a different take on the honor code. As BYU has chastised its students for reporting incidents of sexual harassment, SVU has urged its students to come forward to report such incidents. The university believes although they are a Mormon institution and have an honor code, sexual harassment on campus is a reality that cannot be ignored. In fact, in 2015 the university has updated its policy on sexual abuse to include 'immunity' for complainants.
SVU has set an example of how sexual abuse needs to be handled while several institutions, including those that are religiously run, are ignoring complaints.