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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

“They Treated Me in Such an Un-Christlike Way, Like I Was Some Sinner”

Like I was some sinner....
"Like," we are all sinners?
Like, there's such a thing as sin.
A very sad state of affairs at a Mormon school with a strict code of conduct. Women who are raped often find their transgressions come to light when they report their rapist's transgressions.
Before she could ... sign up for freshman classes, Brooke had to sign [BYU's] Honor Code.
Part moral compass and part contract, ...it points students, faculty and staff members toward “moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ,” prizing chastity, honesty and virtue. It requires modest dress on campus, discourages consensual sex outside marriage and, among other things, prohibits drinking, drug use, same-sex intimacy and indecency, as well as sexual misconduct.
But after Brooke, 20, told the university that a fellow student had raped her at his apartment in February 2014, she said the Honor Code became a tool to punish her. She had taken LSD that night, and also told the university about an earlier sexual encounter with the same student that she said had been coerced. Four months after reporting the assault, she received a letter from the associate dean of students.
“You are being suspended from Brigham Young University because of your violation of the Honor Code including continued illegal drug use and consensual sex, effective immediately,” the letter read.
In the past few weeks, Brooke and a handful of other female students have come forward... to say that after they made complaints of sexual abuse they had faced Honor Code investigations into whether they drank alcohol, took drugs or had consensual sex.
“They treated me in such an un-Christlike way, like I was some sinner,” said Brooke, who agreed to be identified by her first name. “There was no forgiveness and mercy.”
Their accounts have brought a national debate over colleges’ disparate treatment of women who have reported sexual assaults crashing onto this faith-driven campus
Is rape a worse sin than getting drunk or fornicating? Undoubtedly.
(In fact, as a non-Mormon, a Catholic, I am very open to the pleasures of alcohol. There is nothing innately sinful in enjoying the fruit of the vine or of the barley mash.)
And later examples in the Times article demonstrate a clumsy, invasive way of implementing and enforcing this honor code.
But at the heart of the article is, I think, an assumption that the reader will share the objection the paper and the students quoted have to the mere fact of the college daring to tell its charges that there is such a thing as sin and it is not to be countenanced.
A student who dropped LSD and, so, was impaired enough to go with a man who had already assaulted her once, was surprised to learn that her having willingly taken an illegal hallucinogen was a violation of a code she had signed and she might therefore be subject to the stated consequences of such a violation of the code?
But say that one does agree with their premise, drinking is not a sin, fornication is not a sin.


My only knowledge of this comes from police procedurals and movies like Winter's Bone, but it's a pretty common plot point the petty criminals are robbed or beaten by less petty criminals but are naturally afraid to go to the authorities, so there is no redress.
(There's a variation on this trope, in which the petty criminals are so wacked they report that someone stole their meth and are shocked when the LEOs arrest them, but that's usually a comic episode.)
Another problem in play here is the same one that calls warning young women off drinking too much is "victim blaming."
“All schools, including B.Y.U., know that alcohol and drugs are often involved in sexual violence,” said Adele P. Kimmel, a senior lawyer at Public Justice, a nonprofit that advocates social-justice issues. “If you’re a school that wants to send a message to students that you’re serious about preventing sexual violence, you should have an amnesty policy.”
Probably so.
But if a senior lawyer at a nonprofit that advocates social-justice issues also knows that alcohol and drugs are often involved in sexual violence, shouldn't she want to send a message that she's serious about curtailing illegal drug and irresponsible alcohol use? 

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