Protest at BYU

Posted in Web by gadgetized on April 1, 2006

There has not been a protest like this at BYU for a long time now. So for a good reason we decided to shake things up. Here is the link to the photos and some comments.

More info about he BYU demonstration after the jump.

What the protest is about

This protest comes directly out of the debacle in which BYU fired student employee Todd Hendricks for writing a letter to the Daily Universe about the corruption in BYUSA. Hendricks was hauled into the Dean of Student Life's office, was routed for being "disloyal" and was then told that he was being terminated–that is, unless he he wrote a retraction to the Daily Universe, furnished the Dean with a list of people who knew about the corruption, and promised to never speak about the corruption or the exortion offer ever again. If he followed those rules, the firing would appear as a mutual resignation and he would receive one month's worth of pay and benefits until his wife had her baby (she was 6 months pregnant). He refused, and BYU fired. That's right, folks, hush money and wrongul termination. I am sure there is more to this story, but the core issue is that BYU administrators offered hush money and fired a person without going through proper procedures and without, in my opinion, checking with their consciences. This remains unacceptable no matter what kind of person Hendricks was. The more critical issue here is that BYU, in true form, used the rhetoric of "honor" and "loyalty" and threatened job security in order to continue propping up their image of righteousness to the rest of the world. The real issue is that BYU compromised free speech, and did it in a back-handed way, and did it for the thousandth time. The realest of the real issues is that BYU administrators refused to uphold the virtues they are forever expounding as soon as those virtues challenged their priorities and desires. The rhetoric of "honor" and the squashing of conscience and speech at BYU has gone too far, and it is busy producing students who believe that the uppermost virtue is to be cowed, uninformed, and accepting of whatever status quo life lands them in. We need to come together and tell BYU that this sort of hypocrisy is not acceptable, and that it is a symptom of a far more disturbing epidemic of Rule Theology and corporate poverty of conscience. BYU is putting critical thinking and critical response into full-mental traction.  

This is the letter he was fired for
BYUSA's special interests

 As a coordinator with student leadership and adviser with BYUSA, I share my concerns about the BYUSA student body elections and the recent disqualification of candidates. Each year, a full-time employee takes a turn rewriting election regulations, then appoints a student to chair the elections committee that will ensure candidates' compliance.Conflict of interest and anonymity can hamper the committee. The committee comprises 10 students who are anonymous to the student body but, through associations in BYUSA, generally have strong ties to one or more of the candidates or to a full-time employee. The committee meets every evening prior to and during elections to discuss reports of "infractions" – complaints filed by candidates against one another, often anonymously, in hopes of securing penalties for the opposing team. It is a system that rewards collusion and exaggeration. In addressing alleged infractions, the committee's anonymous identities and confidential proceedings sometimes cloud judgment. Special interest, rather than actual student votes, may thus determine the BYUSA presidency.It is important to scrutinize candidates during election week, but it is also important to scrutinize the methodologies of the election's sponsors. I encourage the campus community to work with next year's BYUSA president and Student Advisory Council to establish clear election criteria and procedures. The elections committee must be housed outside BYUSA so the election outcome will not be decided by student leadership, full-time staff and volunteers with special interests. Proceedings of the committee must be fully transparent and, with few exceptions, disclosed to the press. Decision makers must be held accountable before the student body, whose election this is.Todd J. Hendricks

Letter to the BYU President

Dear President Samuelson,

 I am sure you have received many letters from students concerned about the Todd Hendricks situation. I understand that there are probably many details involved in the situation that I do not understand, but I am definitely concerned with the fact that–according to the Daily Universe and the Daily Herald–BYU offered Hendricks money to turn against his own integrity. I feel that this act is a symptom of a larger epidemic at BYU. BYU claims to stress honor and integrity at all costs but, from the experiences I have had, I find that this emphasis too often takes the form of systems and rules designed to uphold a certain image rather than to actually transform the hearts and actions of the students involved. Furthermore, I have found that BYU is uncomfortable when its students extend the implications of what they have learned in school and in Church and use those tools to constructively criticize BYU. The BYU statement of academic freedom reminds us that learning is unsettling and that it requires hard questions, difficult answers and, often, painful application. It seems that we encourage learning but not application, and that we fear application of ideas because we consider criticism of any kind to be disloyal. In the name of loyalty to Church and university, I feel that we have stressed image at the expense of integrity and created a culture where people behave out of fear—where people sense that they will be punished or ostracized for even helpful and genuine criticism. BYU quoted the Dean of Student Life as telling Hendricks that his actions were "disloyal." I cannot make the same connection. How is it disloyal to remind BYU of the very virtues it encourages when BYU seems to have abandoned them? I feel that the campus culture we have created–in which honor is not a choice made after honest consideration but a code that is uniformly enforced, externally regulated, and attached to arbitrary punishments–emphasizes outward appearances while ignoring or even hindering internal transformation. This outward emphasis, in turn, creates a culture of deceit and tattling in which what appears to be the case is more important then what is actually the case. This increases the likelihood that BYU administrators will try to cover up ugly facs in order to maintain a certain opinion of their staff, students, and selves.  Please tell me your opinions on this matter. Thank you, Ashley Sanders 


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