According to an Associated Press report from early Sunday morning, Baylor University’s faith-based code of conduct that bans alcohol, drugs, and premarital sex among students may have encouraged victims to not report incidents of rape.
Attorneys representing women suing Baylor in their ongoing sexual assault scandal have argued that the school’s Christian code of conduct and the anticipation of judgmental responses from school administration constituted an institutional barrier to reporting assaults. Victims were allegedly informed that if they followed through with a formal report of sexual assault, Baylor administrators would notify their parents.
The code of conduct, as it currently stands, allows Baylor to expel students for drug and alcohol use and students can also face penalties for violating the school’s code of sexual conduct. The women involved in these accusations against Baylor say that they feared that coming forward and reporting their sexual assault would result in their being charged with violations of the school alcohol policy or the code of sexual conduct.
This story, while hardly a surprise in this case, reveals how deep and systemic the issues with student culture and sexual assault are on the campus. Victims of rape at Baylor feel under attack when they report their experiences. In the story, multiple women report being grilled by school administrators about their sexual history when they report their assault to campus officials. It is already difficult enough for women who have been raped to report what happened and feel safe and comfortable doing so. The last thing they need is to fear persecution from the very people they need to go to for help.