Controversy erupted over the weekend at Brigham Young University over the student body response to a serial groper who's currently terrorizing the campus. Currently, 15 students have been victimized. Unfortunately, the response online has been insensitive to say the least.
The latest incident occurred this past Friday, when police arrested a man who broke into a student's apartment and "touched her genitalia." They believe the man responsible for the 14 other attacks, which consists of "quick grabs" in public places is still at large.
After Friday's arrest, twitter users went online to make light of the "BYU groper." First, as chronicled by the Salt Lake Tribune's Jim Dalrymple, a twitter account called @byugroper has issued "funny" tweets, like "Y'all just jealous because I be gettin more action than you," and "Hide yo kids hide yo wife and hide yo husband cuz I'm gropin errbody out there."
Then there's been the popular @shewantstheNCMO (non-committal make out, apparently a popular bit of BYU slang), whose joke garnered a fair amount of retweets:
In his round-up of the offending tweets and the support for them, Dalrymple, who is a BYU alum himself, offered some insight into this reaction:
I don't know why, specifically, molestation is a laughing matter among a small but vocal group of people with connections to BYU. Obviously BYU treats sexuality differently than most other college campuses, and as an alumnus I wouldn't disagree with those who say the school's unique culture also contributes to the problem.
In other words, it's interesting that such relatively blue jokes (verging on victim-blaming) would happen at BYU, since it's a predominantly Mormon university that prizes itself on sexual conservatism, including waiting until marriage to have sex.
As a result, I asked Dalrymple to elaborate on what exactly he meant by his alma mater's "unique culture." Along with the campus not being "particularly sex positive,":
BYU is also a very rule-oriented place. Which is fine I suppose, except that I didn't feel like it really encouraged us to critically think and make choices about things like sex, intimacy, etc. As a result, though the tweets I wrote about were alarming, I wasn't actually that surprised to see them; at least in my experience at BYU, we didn't have many discussions about the difference between healthy intimacy and violence.
Also, many of the women I knew in college had experienced some form of sexual violence prior to meeting me but after coming to BYU. I was always astonished to hear about what were sometimes very violent episodes, and I remain astonished at how little collective attention was devoted to this topic on campus. So there was always this disconnect.
Depressing stuff, with parallels to the sexual assault problem at "God's Harvard." In addition, @ShewantstheNCMO hints at a similar story in its apology tweets on the subject: