Town Hall Explores Rape Culture on Utah Campuses

In partnership with The Salt Lake Tribune, KCPW producer and host Roger McDonough moderated a town hall forum looking at sexual assault on Utah college campuses. The event took place the evening of June 30th at The Leonardo in downtown Salt Lake City. [Audio follows below].

Across the country and in Utah, colleges and the justice system are coming under scrutiny for the way they respond to sexual assaults of students. Experts say that few attacks are reported, and even fewer result in justice for a victim, as perpetrators, law enforcement and society as a whole struggle to understand consent and the repercussions of sexual violence.

“That a culture of sexual assault exists on university campuses is a crisis nationally and in Utah,” said Salt Lake Tribune Editor Terry Orme. “The goal of our conversation is to go beyond the ‘why,’ and get to ‘what needs to be done about it.’ “

In Utah, students at Brigham Young University have criticized the LDS Church-owned school’s handling of sexual-assault cases, contending they faced discipline under its Honor Code after reporting they had been raped. Women who have reported sexual assaults at the University of Utah and Utah State University have objected that the schools take too long to investigate and resolve discipline cases, leaving them struggling to maintain normal college lives.

And Westminster College is under investigation by the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which is determining whether the private Salt Lake City school complied with federal regulations when a student reported a sexual assault in 2013.

Panelists at the event included Madi Barney, who filed a federal complaint against BYU after she says the school blocked her from enrolling in classes after she reported to local police that she’d been raped; Jodi Petersen, a sexual-assault support advocate with the U.’s Center for Student Wellness; Steve Evans, attorney and co-founder of the Mormon blog “By Common Consent”; and Tribune reporter Erin Alberty.

Listen to full audio of the event below.

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