Deseret News
Letter to the Editor

I write in response to the article "BYU doing poor job educating students about sexual assault, survey says" (Nov. 16). First, I think that all universities — not just BYU — but all schools should put aside modest talk and replace it with frank discussions about unwanted sexual contact, what constitutes it and the need to report it to authorities in a timely manner. By "authorities," I mean they should report it to both the school/university authorities as well as police.

BYU for decades has largely swept the subject under the rug, considering it too delicate. It seems that too many university department heads would rather "blame the victim" than see justice brought to the perpetrator. A passive attitude may have worked in the 1950s, but it is not the harsh world we see on the "news" in this year of 2017. We live in a modern world and, yes, a dangerous world, with sexual predators ranging from "celebrities" to "doctors," "lawyers" and perhaps even "the guy next door." I'd rather a young woman (or man) be educated on how to say "no" to any unwanted advance and also be taught exactly what to do as far as contacting police without fear of reprisal or stigma.

Sexual assaults are a crime, and BYU and other schools need to facilitate justice by engaging in open terminology instead of taking a Puritan blind eye to the matter. If students are educated and empowered, it might help prevent victims in the future and help put current perpetrators behind bars. BYU needs to educate students on what is unacceptable. The students shouldn't have to resort to hearing about important matters via back-alley channels. These crimes happen to high school and university students who need to know how to respond accordingly.

James Marples

Provo