This woman was one of many sexually assaulted at BYU. Now she’s a student at rival Utah — and rooted against the Cougars


Madeline MacDonald now attends the University of Utah and rooted against her former school, BYU, after the Mormon church-owned school pointed fingers at her after she was sexually assaulted. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Editor’s note: this story was written in advance of the 2016 Utah-BYU football game.
Madeline MacDonald attended Brigham Young University.
Then, she was sexually assaulted at the school.
Now, she goes to the University of Utah.
So she’ll be wearing red this Saturday, as the Utes and Cougars clash in football in Salt Lake City.
So will her family. It is a rather big change for them considering that her mom sang the Cougar fight song to MacDonald in their Seattle home, to wake her for school.
“You know that part where they sang ‘rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah — gggoooo… Cougars!?” Madeline asked. “She sang that while rubbing my shoulders.”
The sexual assault revelations from BYU since the spring may be just one reason why this year’s version of the rivalry is the biggest BYU-Utah game in some time. This matchup is the rivalry’s biggest since the Utes showed that they could compete against the Cougars in 1993, according to Jorge Iber, a history professor at Texas Tech University who specializes in United States sports. That year marked when a 55-yard field goal from Chris Yergensen at game’s end concluded a stretch in which Utah, in 21 prior consecutive contests, had lost 19 times. (In the next 21, it won 15.)
A conversion
At first, MacDonald thought that the rapists and BYU’s honor code were merely bad apples in the Mormon church-owned school. Then she learned the issues went to the top – even to president Kevin Worthen, who knew about sexual assaults at his school for years but kept quiet about it, she said.
“I didn’t even make it a year before I was sexually assaulted,” she said. “And I thought I was getting this special unique thing (in attending BYU). It was worth going to the school with a program that wasn’t the best for my major or going into a desert – I don’t like deserts – and then I learned like it was anything else.”
MacDonald is especially disgusted that, in her mind, BYU put football over people. Over women, since potential lost funding for BYU over a violation of Title IX rules could inversely affect its athletic programs, including football; over the LGBTQIA community, because of the Big 12’s possible concern about an LGBTQIA non-discrimination policy. BYU does not have one and it may keep them from being invited to the Big 12, one of a handful of titanic football leagues in American known as the Power 5.
“They want the publicity (through football) so that everyone can become Mormons,” MacDonald said. “It was shocking to me… there was no deeper morals. It came to protecting the public image.”
The Washington native transferred to the U. largely because she wanted to stay in the state, where she has a strong support group. She applied late, but the admissions office made special exceptions for her. They almost hung up the phone but pulled an end-around, she said, after she told them her story. Many personnel have helped her with getting as many resources as possible, a major difference from at BYU.
“There, they said ‘wait, wait. We are going to investigate you,” she said. “(At the U.), even people I didn’t know sought where they could help and have really gone the extra mile to see that I’m comfortable at the U., and that’s been really special.”
MacDonald feels bad that the student-athletes in Provo, including Taysom Hill, the starting quarterback who has fought back from repeated serious injuries, must represent a school so problematic.
“It’s funny – it feels so strange to be seeing all of these things on Facebook and not have it be my team anymore,” she said a month after being admitted to the U. “Who cared about the Utes?”

I have two blogs: one about the institutional LDS Church, the other about “Star Wars.”

I’ve enjoyed doing what I should have done for a couple of years: writing blogs. It’s been a blast to explore the institutional LDS Church and “Star Wars” through and, respectively.

See below for explanations of each of the blogs:


Resolution: 1 (I). Declaration of the institutional problems of the LDS Church

search your feelings

Whereas the institutional LDS Church has not valued the dignity and worth of all persons and marginalized segments of membership,

Whereas the author, with other church members and stakeholders, believes that the church is institutionally not observing the basic Christian message,

Whereas mankind owes to humanity the importance of decrying policies and practices that violate that message,

Now therefore,

the author

Proclaims this Bloggernacle Blog to the end that the institutional LDS Church may better observe that message.

1st plenary couch-sit

12 November 2015


Resolution: 1 (I). ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

this is the world in one week

This was the world on December 18, when “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was released. (Disney)

Whereas the most anticipated movie in film history (since another “Star Wars”) is upon us,

Whereas that movie, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” shattered records globally,

Whereas planet Earth generally reacted with great emotion to the return of the greatest mythology of our time,

Now therefore,

the author

Proclaims to the end that explorations of the film are satisfied.

1st plenary couch-sit

10 December 2015

“Clearly Determine Action Sport Athletes’ Value at”

Clearly determine action sport athletes’ value at

I’m so impressed with a site created by my friend, Lauren Gould! Click here for my commentary, also found below:

First, I noticed Sage Kotsenburg.

Excited as I was that the fellow Utah native won gold in the Sochi Olympics last month, I had no idea of his social influence.

240,800 in his Community. A reach of 262,600. 462, 300 (!) in his Engaged Audience. Eight sponsors.

And one of the highest Athlete Scores of all featured athletes on

It wasn’t just about recent athletes to splash into the public forum. There was a mustached Shaun White, peering with concern over his right shoulder, guitar in arm.

The photo was as eye-catching as the rest of was impressive.

Clear distinctions between helpful categories: the “Athlete Info, “Basic Report,” “Sponsors” and “Related Athletes.” Pictures of athletes that is stunning across the board.

Brands and athletes would be foolish not to utilize

Start in the “Sponsors” section, where you can share the sponsors’ profiles on social as either an athlete or brand. Then take the opportunity to get the “full report,” where you can get detailed stats by social network, know which photos and videos are most popular, request sponsor reports for any athlete, and more.

Enjoy all of’s useful features while appreciating its beautiful aesthetics. “Clear” is the word that repeatedly comes to mind while considering athlete’s profile page. Each sponsor’s logo is clear. Links to related athletes are clear. There is a clear window when prompted to sign in or share an athlete or brand’s profile.  A white background makes scores easy to read.

Other useful features: profiles can be viewed by-the-month, with personal pictures for top, trending, and featured athletes from more than a dozen sports.

As a sports fan, I loved to see the social influence of major athletes (and others whose scores are so high that my unfamiliarity with them only reflects that I’m not paying enough attention). Athletes will love for seeing how their talents are making an impact on the public. Sponsors will love for understanding what sort of revenue the athletes generate.

Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart visits Utah State University

Becky LockhartThe Utah State University Institute of Government and Politics, which has a student advisory board of which I’m a member, welcomed Utah Speaker Becky Lockhart to campus near the end of the semester. I reported on the event for popular Utah politics (and everything else) blog Publius Online, by attorney Daniel Burton…

Report on Speaker Lockhart’s Comments at Utah State University

Using an example of how “cool” her mother thought she was for owning a VCR, Lockhart outlined the meticulous nature of policy-making in spite of rapid communication as a result of the growth of technology.  Lockhart suggested that political opinions of the Utah Republican Party’s leading policy experts and lawmakers are not as homogeneous as some may think—leading USU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences dean to wonder if the structure of the state’s government should be fundamentally reformed.

Read the rest of the piece here.

Grateful at Society of Professional Journalists awards

I was grateful to have won four regional awards from the Society of Professional Journalists in April. My school also took home the most awards in any year and finished second overall among school recipients!

The story from the Utah State University Journalism and Communication department…

Aggie journalists best in region with 20 excellence awards

SANTA FE, N.M.—Students from Utah State University broke school records, and swept areas of competition in the 2012 Mark of Excellence awards sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists. The awards were presented as part of the annual Region 9 SPJ conference last Saturday in Santa Fe at the offices of the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper.

Rest the rest of the story here.Mark of Excellence awards

Hill Air Force base airmen return from Iraq (Davis Clipper)

SALT LAKE CITY — Amy Bortz and Angela Vanvliet stood in the waiting area of the Salt Lake International Airport with wringing hands and eyes fixed on the escalator descending from the second floor.

Their excitement was due to the fact their husband and boyfriend were among the final troops to leave Iraq, arriving here Wednesday morning.

Master Sgt. Carl Bortz and Tech Sgt. Blaine Arsenault were among seven Hill Air Force Base airmen who proudly walked down the escalator moments later, greeted with massive hugs from each of those they loved. For Bortz, that included his and Amy’s two children as well.

“It has been said before, and we knew it would happen, but I’m excited that he’s going to be home for Christmas,” Amy said, with reference to President Obama’s Oct. 21 announcement that the eight-plus year war in Iraq would formally end by the conclusion of the year.

The remaining 41,000 troops in the country at the time of the president’s address will all be evacuated by Dec. 31.


Read more: Davis County Clipper – Troops return home for holidays

House Bill 477: A Utah State University perspective (Hard News Cafe)

Hard News Cafe, Utah State University: Story

LOGAN — Governor Gary Herbert has now signed House Bill 477, a law that restructures Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) and hides many records from public view, including politicians’ text messages and e-mails.

The bill passed through the Senate an uncharacteristic 90 minutes after it was passed in the House two weekends ago. Herbert delayed the implementation date for the law until July 1, to allow time for discussion and possible changes, he said.

From the political science department to the journalism and communications department to media outlets on campus, USU professors and students alike were both mystified and frustrated with the law as a whole.

“It’s a bad bill because it hurts every citizen in the state,” said Ted Pease, USU journalism and communication department head. “If HB477 becomes law, the citizens of Utah won’t have the right to know what their elected and appointed government officials are doing.”

Pease said he felt especially frustrated because most requests for government records are from Utah citizens.

“We have the right and the responsibility to know and understand what officials are doing in our name. Why would our elected lawmakers not want us to know what they are doing?” he asked.

Michael Lyons, USU political science department head, had several thoughts about why access to government records and communications was vital, particularly to a state so saturated with just one party.

“I think it’s unfortunate,” Lyons said. “Utah had almost a model open-access system as I understand it, and this bill simply limits public access to a whole lot of legislative communications.”

Aggie radio station director Jordan Allred was surprised by the quick pace in which the bill rushed through both the House and Senate.

“When I saw it, I thought, ‘Oh wow, that’s crazy how quickly it’s going through,’” said the broadcast journalism major, who first learned of the bill after seeing a link to an article about Herbert’s delay of its passing from a fellow student’s status on Facebook.

Landon Hemsley, also a journalism major, had questions both about why the Legislature would be so eager to see the bill passed, and how it would be fair to the public if made into law.

“I don’t know why they would want to hide anything,” he said. “I am by no means an expert, but the first question is why– are they trying to do something like that to hide? I would question their integrity, and why we don’t deserve access to (particular government records and communications.) It promotes the idea of big-brother government.”

Lyons said that just the presence of an open-records standard may have been the key factor to maintaining a transparent and open Legislature. Now, with a shield, those in the capitol may feel more secure working insidiously.

“When there is open access to communications of many kinds, that access may keep legislators more honest and to some extent the existence of access makes problem go away,” he said, adding that he doesn’t follow state politics closely enough to give specific examples of why it has been a benefit for the state to previously have had an open-records standard. “I don’t follow Utah state politics closely enough to point to cases, to say good thing we have this vigorous open-records act, because if it didn’t we wouldn’t have A, B, and C.”

Hemsley was also upset with the bill because it threatens to shield information flowing from devices that the public pays for with taxes, including cell phones.

“If the state is going to fund e-mails and cell phone bills, then don’t want us to see what’s in there, there’s always G-mail and AT&T,” he said.

Lyons explained that it’s very necessary for watchdogs to be able to closely monitor a party with so much imbalance of power on their side, as is the case in the Republican-saturated state here in Utah.

“You could rely on the power of the minority party to make public many of the inner workings of the majority,” Lyons said of the more equal balance of political power in other states.

“It’s harder to keep secrets and raise questions (in a one-party state). A relatively equal balance of equal power with a strong minority power means there will be public questions asked in a publicly visible way, but the majority party will be held responsible for things. But with an overwhelming majority, and really no opportunity for the minority party to capture power, then the minority party is much a much less important shield, and public access is thus much more important.”

Regardless of Herbert’s signing of the bill, Lyons said he is optimistic about the governor’s intentions in turning on his delay so quickly, although those intentions may be front-loaded with both aspirations for winning certain minds in preparation for campaigning another term, along with a mindset that may be slightly different than many of his constituents. “I think the governor genuinely wants to advance what he views as best for state, but his perspective is different than the conservative party of the legislators,” he said.

Ashlee Davis, a staff assistant in the USU journalism and communications department who majored in psychology when she attended college, echoed what others asked thought about HB477.

“As a citizen I don’t like that it passed because they’re keeping secrets,” she said.

With the extra time that Herbert has bought, Davis said she would like to see the governor organize a committee that discussed the pros and cons of less transparency, including focus groups that displayed various opinions. She said that such an initiative has been taken in the past, when GRAMA was first introduced.

They are measures that could help bring greater perspective to a bill that Twenty-somethings to Baby Boomers didn’t necessarily appreciate.

“Not allowing people to have access is ridiculous and stupid,” Hemsley said.