Originally published at The Student Review by Hunter Schwarz and shared here with permission.
The first issue of the revamped Student Review will create buzz across campus when it is published in September, but it will hardly be the first time that sort of excitement was felt at Brigham Young University over an independent student paper.
BYU’s first newspaper was created before it was even a university. In 1891, students at Brigham Young Academy, as it was called at the time, read the BYA Student, a paper “managed exclusively by the students.” The paper lasted five months.
In 1897, the White and Blue published its first issue, running such controversial stories as words grandmothers would be shocked to hear their college-aged granddaughters say (Some of the phrases were “dog gone,” “rubber neck” and “hot time”).
The author’s name has been omitted for anonymity’s sake.
I used to write a lot, but now I mostly make art. Making art is more comfortable than writing. When writing I am extremely conscious of what words connote and denote. This consciousness makes it harder to decide which word is the most appropriate for what I want to say. When I paint—and more when I sculpt—my decisions come naturally simply because art lends itself to ambiguity.
Without a universal meaning of colors or lines or compositions, I can ʻsayʼ what I want without saying anything. People see what they want to see in my art. If there is uninteresting, disruptive, or offensive content in a piece, people usually will still just see what they want, or they will pass it by. Art is safer than words.
Earlier this week, a rather brave group of BYU students wore t-shirts that read, “I’m okay if you’re gay.” (The handsome gent at the bottom right is my friend Cary Crall, who helped organize this event. You may remember Cary from his controversial Prop 8 editorial published in the Daily Universe.)
At most universities, this wouldn’t be a provocative message. At the conservative BYU, however, I’m sure it raised some eyebrows. More importantly, it raised awareness that there exists a community of LGBT students and their allies at BYU.
On Thursday, September 23rd, BYU biology professor Dr. William Bradshaw will discuss the significant role that genetics plays in homosexuality. He will also argue that homosexuality is not a choice and cannot be changed.
It will be an interesting lecture, and I’m thrilled that BYU is hosting it. Here is the event info:
When: September 23rd @ 7:00 PM
Where: Thomas S. Martin building (MARB), rm. 445
(Search “MARB” in the BYU campus map and you’ll find it.)
Dr. Bradshaw gave a similar lecture back in 2004. Read this Daily Universearticle (originally entitled “Professor gives scientific evidence of homosexuality”, but changed to “Professor claims scientific evidence of homosexuality”) about his 2004 lecture if you want a preview of Thursday’s presentation.
For those in Logan: SHAFT will have a presentation of its own this Thursday. At 6:00 PM in Old Main 201, SHAFT officer Chris Gardner will discuss ancient creation myths and how they evolved into modern day religions.
Yesterday, Brigham Young University’s student paper The Daily Universe featured a letter to the editor that argued that the legal case for Proposition 8 is “indefensible.” Its author, BYU student Cary Crall*, also asked Mormons to admit that their only opposition to gay marriage is religious. The letter attracted enormous attention and praise from both the Mormon and ex-Mormon online communities. People were most impressed that BYU—in a refreshing display of academic freedom—published it.
But shortly after the letter was posted to the Universe‘s website, it was quietly pulled**. This is disappointing, but not terribly surprising; the letter nearly didn’t get published at all. Crall told me in a Facebook message that he submitted the letter to the Universe a few weeks ago, but it was rejected by the summer editor who felt it was inappropriate for a “newspaper funded by the LDS Church.” It wasn’t until after some edits and the approval of a new editor that it was published, albeit briefly.
Thankfully, Crall was kind enough to email me the original copy of his letter with permission to reproduce it here. (The bracketed sentences did not appear in the Universe.)
I’m sitting in the Phoenix airport (waiting for my flight back to Salt Lake) without much to do. I might as well post something to the blog. But it’s a slow news day and I’m not feeling creatively inspired, so I’m just going to recycle an article I wrote about BYU and its limits on academic freedom and history of homophobia. The article was published by QSaltLake in 2006, but it was initially just a response to my Mormon friends who were asking me to attend BYU at the time. Its tone is more strident and polemical than my writings today; I hope it does not offend.
Giddy over their best football season in years, students at BYU are brimming with school pride. The Cougars handily defeated the Aggies, my school’s team, and narrowly squeaked out a win over the Utes. But though BYU’s students have earned some bragging rights, I am hardly envious of their school choice.
They are missing out on the marketplace of ideas other universities enjoy. I’m not talking about the filtered porn or lacking cable selection, but the onerous censorship of information about the government and the LDS Church with which the university is affiliated.
In 1998, the American Association of University Professors voted to censure BYU for infringements on academic freedom that were “distressingly common” and a climate for academic freedom that was “distressingly poor.” Despite this condemnation, BYU has persisted in a systematic purge of any freethinking faculty. The two most recent victims: BYU professors Steven E. Jones and Jeffrey Nielsen.
Maybe this is yet another sign that—despite my wishes—I really should leave Utah. The Daily Herald reports:
Some local parents are leveling serious charges against Alpine School District and Brigham Young University.
Parents are saying district and university officials are participating in “a deliberate course of action to subvert the moral fabric of a society with the goal to eliminate the worship of deity and replace it with the worship of man.”
These parents acknowledge their argument is both complex and far-reaching. If true, the charge means the school district is either wittingly or unwittingly part of a nationwide socialist movement. Parents say it is the manifestation of a specific warning given by LDS Church President Ezra Taft Benson, who had named names in the warning.