PROVO — Brigham Young University is using Instagram to let students know help is available after sexual abuse.
The university decided to use Instagram to deliver the message to not only ensure students would hear it, but also in hopes that it will better resonate with them so they can help others who are victims of sexual assault.
The message was posted on Instagram stories Tuesday and outlined an important finding from a recent campus survey: Most sexual assaults go unreported to authorities.
The message is one BYU wants to make very clear.
“There are two very important words to understand in this process. One is amnesty, the other is confidentiality,” the video posted on Instagram said.
Brigham Young University came under public scrutiny in 2016 after some students claimed that their efforts to report sexual assaults led to disciplinary investigations under the school’s honor code. The allegations included reports that the private university’s treatment of sexual assault victims created a climate that made students wary of reporting crimes for fear that they themselves would be penalized.
BYU revised its honor code policy, finalizing it in June 2017. The policy now says that students who report sexual misconduct “will not be disciplined by the university for any related honor code violation occurring at or near the time of the reported sexual misconduct unless a person’s health or safety is at risk.”
The results of the survey suggest there may be some lingering fears about reporting.
Tiffany Turley, Title IX coordinator at BYU, said it’s important to the department that students feel comfortable enough to talk about their experiences.
"It is the first step in being able to seek help and find healing to get through these difficult times," Turley said.
“For us, anything that we can do to encourage reporting, and that is what our amnesty policy is all about,” Turley said. “(It’s) letting students know we are going to look at the bigger picture and really address the most important issue, which is someone being victimized by sexual assault.”
Several students on campus said they had seen the post on Instagram, but their opinions varied on if it was an effective message.
The Title IX office said the university will continue to share the sexual assault message throughout campus, including through social media.