Akateeminen vapaus

Note that this is a static version of the original website as hosted on the BYU website in 1998. Tämä on BYU:n sivustolla ilmestyneen alkuperäisen sivuston päivittämätön kopio. Pelottavaa tekstiä.

Welcome to the Homepage of the BYU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

The American Association of University Professors works to enhance academic freedom at colleges and universities across the country.

The BYU Chapter of the AAUP is similarly dedicated to helping BYU fulfill its promise.

  1. Information on hiring, retention and promotion issues at BYU
  2. Information on the Firing of Steven Epperson
  3. Notes on the BYU Academic Freedom Document of 1992
  4. Information on the BYU Visit of the National AAUP Investigative Team
  5. Gail Houston; Pertinent Information and Documents Relevant to Houston's Tenure Denial
  6. Brian Evenson; Letter of Resignation from BYU
  7. Issues Pertinent to the Status of Women at BYU
  8. Issues Dealing with the new BYU Ecclesiastical Endorsement Policy
  9. Issues of Academic Freedom at BYU
1. Problems With Hiring, Retention And Promotion Issues At BYU

The BYU AAUP believes important problems exist in policies and procedures pertinent to hiring, retention and promotion at BYU. For example, we recently discovered that the University Administration asked that five third-year review candidates in the English Department add to their files all student evaluation summaries, all student comments, all theses worked on, texts of all speeches, panel discussions, etc., made at symposia, conferences, and fora dealing with Mormon issues, and texts of all material published on Mormon issues.

We contend the requirement to add these materials to a candidate's file represents substantial departure from established policy. We are very concerned with these changes, done without faculty involvement, discussion or even announcement.

In response to these policy changes and to other issues pertinent to hiring, retention and promotion, the following correspondence between the BYU AAUP and BYU administration was initiated. We hope by this correspondence to initiate a meaningful discussion of the entire third-year and tenure review process.

Letter to President Merrill Bateman; 27 February 1997

February 27, 1997

Dear President Bateman:

This is our first attempt to communicate with you since our meeting at the end of January at which you emphasized your "open door policy" and expressed your desire to work with us in the future.

It has come to our attention that the University Council on Rank and Status has asked that five third-year review candidates in the English Department add to their files all student evaluation summaries, all student comments, all theses worked on, texts of all speeches, panel discussions, etc., made at symposia, conferences, and forums dealing with Mormon issues, and texts of all material published on Mormon issues.

According to the policies established in the "University Policy on Faculty Rank and Status: Professorial":

7.4 It is the candidate's responsibility to develop a file that is professional and complete as defined in this document. [Emphasis added. There is nothing in the document or in the "Checklist for . . . Documentation" that even suggests anything like what is now being required.]

7.5 Candidates should make available in the departmental office copies of other books, peer-reviewed articles, other publications or other written materials which the faculty member has authored, edited, or otherwise contributed to . . . which are to be considered for evaluation. [Emphasis added. The document and the "Checklist" require "a list of all scholarly work (refereed journal articles and technical publications. . .)," and clearly not copies of remarks made on panels or non-scholarly writing in Mormon-related publications.]

7.6 The faculty member should provide a complete file but use discretion, because the file itself is an indication of a faculty member's professional maturity. The faculty member is particularly encouraged to avoid the inclusion of extraneous or non-substantial evidence, and to keep the file at a minimum size consistent with a complete, relevant presentation. [Emphasis added. The newly required documents fall under "extraneous or non-substantial evidence" and are not relevant.]

7.7 The department chair should request student evaluations of faculty teaching for each course taught. . . . Care should be taken to insure that a representative sample of students is obtained. [The department chair is instructed to read these and summarize them, not to provide all of them to the university.]

The policy clearly does not require "all student evaluation summaries" or "all student comments." There is no requirement that student theses be included in the file. And there is no mention of texts of all speeches and panel discussions made at symposia, conferences, and forums dealing with Mormon issues or texts of all material published on Mormon issues. This is an unannounced, ad hoc requirement that has not been reviewed by the university community as a whole and that goes counter to the spirit and letter of university procedures.

The new policy has several serious drawbacks. It places an unreasonable burden on the candidate to supply large amounts of material. It will come between students and their thesis advisors, inhibiting the very inquiry a thesis is meant to promote. And, as the following historical note suggests, it provides the administration the opportunity to construct oversimplified portraits in place of the more informed and accurate portraits that members of a department construct through summary of their personal experience with the candidate.

Kent Harrison, of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, reports that his father, Bertrand F. Harrison, who taught botany at BYU for 45 years, headed the University Teaching Committee for several years, at President Wilkinson's request. Student evaluations of teaching were instituted about that same time (late 1960's). His father insisted that teaching evaluations be made available only to the faculty member him/herself and to the department chair, who had the best information about a faculty member's individual circumstances.

More distanced readers of a few excerpted student comments, the argument went, will invariably form a false picture of a candidate (note the use that was made of such excerpts from Gail Houston's evaluations).

Because the change is apparently aimed solely at five faculty members in the English Department, we are concerned that the university is not following its own wish to maintain balance and consistency in the rank and tenure process. We are concerned that such expansive and intrusive gathering of information will send the message that the rank and status procedure is not intended to discover the quality and breadth of the candidates' thinking, but rather an effort to control the academic pursuits of faculty and to punish.

Does your administration understand what effect this new request will have on present and potential members of the BYU community?

What will this mean for the supposed "extra academic freedom" we enjoy here to speak and do research on Mormon issues? Will this become the one university in the country where no one will be willing to risk working on Mormon topics? In this climate, what faculty member would ever be willing to speak on any issue that might at some future time be deemed to be controversial by some future authority?

Finally, while we hold strongly to the opinion that it is a change of policy and improper to request these additional materials from the English Department candidates, in the event that such materials were to be supplied, another serious problem arises in requesting that candidates comment on the materials to help put them in context.

Since the University Council has not carefully specified the reasons for this request, the comments from the candidates will be made only on the basis of their speculations about the Council's potential concerns. These comments could miss the mark and actually raise new questions that the Council has not contemplated, thus putting a loyal candidate, who is trying to do the right thing, in the position of inadvertently creating problems for himself or herself. This is unacceptable in any respectable system of policies and rules created for the protection of the faculty as well as the institution. Having said this, we repeat that it is not acceptable for the University Faculty Council on Rank and Status to make any request for documents outside those required by established procedures, and that such a requirement violates the candidates' academic freedom.

We ask you to carefully consider the appropriateness of the request from the Rank and Status committee and direct them in the proper way to proceed.


Members of the BYU Chapter of the AAUP

Letter to the BYU AAUP from Jim Gordon; 5 March 1997

March 5, 1997

Your letter of February 27 has been referred to me for response.

The practice of review committees to request aditional information when they have questions is well established. Because the English Department and College of Humanities review committees have asked to see any documents that the University Faculty Council will use as it considers the files, the candidates have been requested to include the documents in their files so that they can be reviewed by the committees at all levels.

I disagree that requesting additional information violates the candidates' academic freedom. The Faculty Council is charged with conducting careful reviews, and it is entitled to review the entire body of a candidate's work if it chooses to do so. The rank and status policy does not require the Faculty Council to provide the candidates with a list of concerns. Rather, the Faculty Council will review the files in light of the expectations that are set forth in the rank and status policy and that apply to all faculty.

I hope that the above information is helpful.


James D. Gordon III

cc Randall Jones, Jay Fox, Thomas Plummer, Douglas Thayer

Letter to President Merrill Bateman; 13 March 1997

13 March 1997

Dear President Bateman:

In response to our letter of February 27 outlining concerns about requirements made of the five English-Department candidates for third-year review, Jim Gordon (5 March) stated that in his opinion the University was legally justified in its actions. He ignored everything we argued about the effects of this new policy on the academic life and morale of the university. In what follows, we will comment on Jim's points and then reiterate what we believe to be compelling reasons for reconsidering a policy that will, in our opinion, not be in the best interest of this university.

Jim wrote that "because the English Department and College of Humanities review committees have asked to see any documents that the University Faculty Council will use as it considers the files, the candidates have been requested to include the documents in their files so that they can be reviewed by the committees at all levels."

When Tom Plummer (chair of the College of Humanities advancement committee) and Doug Thayer (chair of the advancement committee of the English Department) met last year with the administration, they did not ask that candidates be required to include any and all documents relating to Mormonism, all theses directed, all student comments on evaluations. Does Jim's reply mean that the University has always collected all that information and has routinely used it for rank and status decisions, without the knowledge of the candidates or department or college committees?

"The practice of review committees to request additional information when they have questions is well established," Jim wrote. What are the questions here? Does the University council have the same questions for all five of these candidates and do the questions require the same documents? Are these five candidates, and none of the other candidates for advancement across the university, under suspicion?

Jim wrote that "the Faculty Council . . . is entitled to review the entire body of a candidate's work if it chooses to do so." How does the administration define "work"? If the faculty member is a physicist and gives a speech denouncing nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site, would you consider that "work"? If a faculty member in Engineering gave a talk in a sacrament meeting about Jesus and the Pharisees, would you consider that "work"? If a faculty member in Music read a paper at the Sunstone symposium on the science fiction of Orson Scott Card, would you consider that "work"?. There must be distinctions made between the work BYU faculty members do professionally and what they do in their private lives.

For a fuller argument of Jim's point that "the rank and status policy does not require the Faculty Council to provide the candidates with a list of concerns," see Fred Gedicks letter of 8 April 1996 in support of Gail Houston (copy included).

But finally, although these details are interesting and important, our concerns about the effects of this policy on the academic climate at BYU lie at the heart of our protest. We repeat:

The new policy has several serious drawbacks beyond its departure from established procedures:

It places an unreasonable burden on the candidate to supply large amounts of material.

It will come between students and their thesis advisors, inhibiting the very inquiry a thesis is meant to promote.

It provides the administration the opportunity to construct oversimplified sketches in place of the more informed and accurate portraits that members of a department construct through summary of their personal experience with the candidate.

Because the change is apparently aimed solely at five faculty members in the English Department, we are concerned that the university is not following its own wish to maintain balance and consistency in the rank and tenure process.

Such expansive and intrusive gathering of information will send the message that the rank and status procedure is not intended to discover the quality and breadth of the candidates' thinking, but is rather an effort to control the academic pursuits of faculty and to punish.

This action will have an inhibiting effect on research on and discussion of Mormon topics.

We assume that you and the members of your administration are interested in these issues. But your short response providing "information" belies that assumption.

We remain committed to our belief that BYU will be a more vital and productive university if decisions are made in the context of vigorous debate and open processes.


Members of the BYU Chapter of the AAUP

cc AVP Alan Wilkins, AAVP Jim Gordon

Letter from Jim Gordon to the BYU AAUP; 25 March 1997

March 25, 1997

Dear [Members of the BYU Chapter of the AAUP]:

I am responding to your letter of March 13.

Your letter correctly observes that the department and college committees did not request that the candidates include additional information in their files. However, the University Faculty Council on Rank and Status acted within its jurisdiction when it requested additional information relevant to the candidates' teaching, scholarship, and citizenship. Because the department and college committees asked to see any documents that the Faculty Council will use as it considers the candidates, the candidates were requested to include the documents in their files at the beginning of the process so that the items could be reviewed by the committees at all levels.

You have asked, "Does Jim's reply mean that the University has always collected all that information and has routinely used it for rank and status decisions, without the knowledge of the candidates or department or college committees?" The answer is no. If documents are added to a file, the candidate is given an opportunity to respond.

Incidently, your description of the documents requested by the Faculty Council is incorrect. I assume that you have not seen the Faculty Council's request, but are instead relying to some degree on a generalized description that was circulated in the English Department.

The Faculty Council's request is narrower than that description. I understand that the candidates have been advised of the specific request.

A faculty member's body of work consists of his [sic] teaching, scholarship, and citizenship as described in the rank and status policy. The requested documents relate to activities with students or in public and are relevant to the standards set forth in the rank and status policy.

While I have a close and longstanding friendship with Professor Gedicks, I disagree that the rank and status policy requires the Faculty Council to give candidates a list of concerns. That issue was addressed last year, and it was correctly concluded that the rank and status policy does not require such a list. The standards that apply to a candidate's teaching, scholarship, and citizenship are clearly set forth in the rank and status policy.

I would like to respond briefly to the drawbacks your letter asserts about the Faculty Council's request for additional information:

  1. The burden on candidates is not unreasonable in light of the importance of the rank and status process. In most cases it merely requires some additional photocopying.
  2. Review committees are entitled to evaluate theses and dissertation. Section 3.5.1. of the rank and status policy provides: "It is incumbent upon the applicant to provide persuasive documentation, such as the following: . . . The products of good teaching and mentoring, such as: . . . honors, masters, or PhD theses supervised . . . ." The theses and dissertations are relevant, and it is incumbent upon the candidates to provide them if requested by a review committee.
  3. The recommendations at every level will be more informed, not less, by the additional information.
  4. Faculty review committees request additional information when they have questions. The fact that they have questions about some candidates does not mean that they are being inconsistent. Review committees have also requested additional information about candidates in other departments.
  5. The request for additional information is intended only to help in evaluating the candidates' teaching, scholarship, and citizenship consistent with the standards set forth in University policy.
  6. The assertion that the request will inhibit research on Mormon topics assumes that the Faculty Council has requested, as your letter asserts, "any and all documents relating to Mormonism." That assumption is incorrect.

People will disagree about whether the benefits of the Faculty Council's request exceed the costs. However, that is not the issue. The issue is whether the administration should intervene in a faculty peer-review process and prohibit a faculty review committee from requesting relevant information. It is ironic that the AAUP, which advocates faculty self-governance, is insisting that the administration overrule the request of a faculty committee that is acting within its jurisdiction. It is also ironic that the local AAUP group advocates "vigorous debate and open processes," but wants the administration to deny a request for information that a faculty committee considers relevant in the review process. Vigorous debate and open processes are best served by honoring the Faculty Council's request for additional relevant information.

The practice of review committees to request additional information is well established. The administration has consistently honored requests for additional information by faculty review committees at the department, college, and university levels. To overrule a faculty committee's legitimate request for information would be a departure from established procedures.


James D. Gordon III

cc Randall L. Jones, C. Jay Fox, Thomas G. Plummer, Douglas H. Thayer

Letter to Jim Gordon; 9 April 1997

James D. Gordon III
Associate Academic Vice President
D-387 ASB

8 April 1997

Dear Jim:

Thank you for your letter of 25 March responding to our letters of 13 March and 27 February.

You correctly point out that in our first letter we requested something that seems to go against AAUP guidelines -- "We ask you to carefully consider the appropriateness of the request from the Rank and Status committee and direct them in the proper way to proceed." We added that sentence to a draft of our letter in a conscious attempt to ease the tension, to allow the administration to step back gracefully from a counterproductive and ill-advised policy. We should not have done so, and we apologize. In the process, however, you have clearly stated the administration's commitment to faculty governance, and that is a positive step.

It seems important, nevertheless, to consider the context in which we asked the administration to request that a committee adhere to university regulations.

There is essentially no faculty governance at BYU. The single elected faculty group, the "Faculty Advisory Council," has only advisory power.

Contrary to AAUP guidelines accepted and practiced by nearly every university in the United States, the University Faculty Council on Rank and Status, arguably the most important committee at this university, is not elected by faculty, but appointed by the administration.

This Council is not chaired by a faculty member, but by an administrator.

The Council on Rank and Status has overturned departmental and college-committee recommendations in every recent controversial case relating to academic freedom.

The letter requesting that the five English Department candidates for third-year review provide additional materials, including presentations made at symposia and fora relating to Mormonism, was written by you, as chair of that Council, and sent under your name.

On the basis of our experience with administrative procedures at least since 1993 (the Konchar-Farr and Knowlton cases) and on the basis of reports from members of the Faculty Council on Rank and Status, it is our perception that the committee did not vote to request that information, but that it was an administrative decision. (Endnote #1)

Third-year and tenure review has become a zero-sum game wherein even productive junior faculty members are in serious jeopardy of losing their jobs. Relations between the administration and faculty have suffered greatly; and the Faculty Council for Rank and Status, as it has gone against departmental and college recommendations on the basis of its interpretations of candidates' "worthiness," bears some of the responsibility for that decline.

A few additional notes:

You argue that we misrepresented the contents of your letter to the five candidates in the English Department. While we did not reproduce the exact wording, we correctly captured its meaning. Would you have preferred that we reproduce the extensive and telling list of suspect publications and symposia and fora you mentioned: Sunstone, Dialogue, B.H. Roberts Society, Mormon Women's Forum, etc.?

You write that "The request for additional information is intended only to help in evaluating the candidates' teaching, scholarship, and citizenship consistent with the standards set forth in University policy"; but in the context the administration has established with intrusive questions to and investigation of prospective faculty members (Endnote #2), and by refusing advancement to faculty members on the basis of arbitrary, unannounced, and unforeseeable standards, the request is bound to be seen as simply as an attempt to find reasons to deny advancement. In a more robust environment, your note that "vigorous debate and open processes are best served by . . . [providing] additional relevant information" would make sense. But in place of vigorous debate and open processes, we are witnessing concerted (and demoralizing) actions by our administrators to determine, unilaterally, which colleagues will join us and who will be required to leave.

While it is true that the rank and status document allows that "honors, masters, or Ph.D. theses supervised" may be (!) included in advancement files as evidence of good teaching (and we concur that theses can in fact reflect a faculty member's skill as a mentor), it seems clear that the current request of these five candidates is not aimed at evaluating teaching, but rather at finding methodological approaches (feminist? postmodern?) opposed by administrators, or statements by the students opposed to someone's definition of Church doctrine -- evidence that can be used to punish the advisor. Again, in an environment committed to academic excellence, our objection would not arise.

In response to our argument about the potential for misrepresentation through the raw data of student comments on evaluations as opposed to summaries provided by departmental committees and chairs, you wrote that "the recommendations at every level will be more informed, not less, by the additional information." Republican Senators recently demanded that they be allowed to see the raw FBI files on a cabinet nominee before approving him. Because those files include every unsubstantiated allegation and rumor and therefore contain false and/or irrelevant information, it was argued that more information was not better information. That is our argument: the best, most complete, most accurate picture of a candidate is found in the departmental summary of a candidate. After all, those with the best information and with the greatest ability to bring context to a candidate's strengths and weaknesses are those colleagues closest to the candidate.

Finally, although we appreciate the time you spend to respond to us, we are concerned that our exchange of letters is not particularly productive. This correspondence has turned out to be a largely private and adversarial process: you defending the administration's actions and we questioning them. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any real give and take. This is a "debate" over issues that have already been decided without consultation or apparent deliberation by the BYU administration, and you are merely providing "information." As we have stated repeatedly, we are concerned that the university community at large is not involved in an ongoing and meaningful discussion of faculty governance and academic freedom at BYU. We continue to be concerned that those affected by policies have little say in establishing and implementing them. These concerns led us to ask the AAUP to send its investigative team to BYU, and we hope that their eventual report will facilitate more faculty involvement in decisions here; but aren't there ways we can work better together as faculty and administration to decide questions crucial to us all?

What would you think, for example, of a public discussion of these issues, moderated by an independent, respected senior faculty member?


Members of the BYU Chapter of the AAUP

cc President Merrill J. Bateman, AVP Alan Wilkins

Endnote #1: Last Monday (March 31), in the English Department faculty meeting with Alan Wilkins and Merrill Bateman, members of the department raised the question of the fairness of the additional requests of our third-year review candidates. During the discussion, Stephen Tanner, currently a member of the University Council on Rank and Status, explained his perceptions of the request. He said that from the discussion in which this list was generated, he thought the list to be merely advisory and helpful to the English Department Rank and Status Committee. He said that Jim Gordon asked the Council, "What sorts of things should the English Department be looking at so that they examine all the relevant information about their candidates?" Suggestions were made by individual members of the Council, several of whom have only begun their assignment on that body. Stephen said that the material requested should not have been considered as an official request of the Council because the Council did not vote upon and approve the individual items suggested; they didn't feel they needed to because they were only making a recommendation, not issuing a mandate. For Jim Gordon then to interpret that list as a mandate and in his letter to require the candidates to submit the materials seems to us a misuse of his authority and a deception of both the University Council and the English Department. Or, if he did not do this intentionally, it is a very serious mistake that he ought to be willing to admit and rectify. Almost the entire faculty of the English Department was present in this meeting, and we all heard Steve Tanner explain what he thought. President Bateman seemed to agree with Steve Tanner and recognize the error because he instructed Doug Thayer to get back to Jim Gordon about the matter. President Bateman said, "It is likely this will not happen again." (As reported by three professors of English present at the discussion.)

Endnote #2: Reports from interviews with you indicate that you are disqualifying candidates based on their answers to questions that feel like they are coming from the House Committee on Un-Mormon Activities, e.g. What would you tell a student who said she prayed to a Mother in Heaven? What would you do if a General Authority asked you not to publish research you had done? What do you think of academic freedom at BYU?

2. Information on the Firing of Steven Epperson

The following article by Scott Abbott of Brigham Young University will appear in the coming edition of Sunstone.

On Ecclesiastical Endorsement at Brigham Young University

Scott Abbott

Religion is being destroyed by the Inquisition, for to see a man burned because he believes he has acted rightly is painful to people, it exasperates them. — William of Orange

During Gail Houston's August 1996 appeal of Brigham Young University's decision to deny her tenure, despite overwhelmingly positive English Department and College Committee votes, Associate Academic Vice President James Gordon testified that procedurally the University could not be faulted. Houston broke into his technical testimony to remind Gordon and the appeal panel that the hearing was about more than technicalities, that she was a woman with a family, that she was being forced from a position at a University where she had served with dedication, that the decision, in short, was existentially important to her. Gordon's responded to the panel that in her outburst she had exhibited the behavior that had lead to her dismissal: "From the moment she arrived on campus we have been unable to control her."

On October 22, 1996, Steven Epperson, an assistant professor of history at BYU since 1993, was told that his services would no longer be required as of the end of August 1997. This made him an early casualty of the policy announced by BYU President Merrill Bateman on February 8, 1996, according to which the bishop "of each Church member employed at BYU" would be asked to certify annually "whether the person is currently eligible for a [temple] recommend."

The University clearly has the legal right to establish regulations like the one demanding that all faculty must undergo ecclesiastical endorsement; and Epperson's bishop, for reasons I will enumerate later, would not certify him. Similarly, James Gordon may have been right when he asserted the University correctly carried out its own policies in Gail Houston's case (although the American Association of University Professors has argued otherwise, and is currently formally investigating BYU for academic freedom violations). But when Houston appealed for a wiser, more charitable judgment, when she asked that Gordon, for the University, look into her face and discern there more than the features of a feminist who has supposedly "enervated the moral fiber" of the University, she showed us a way out of the sanctimonious edifice we have constructed for ourselves, or have allowed to be constructed.

In this spirit, I would like you to consider the following portrait of Steven Epperson. My rendering will not do him justice; but it is fuller and more honest than the meager sketch passed from his bishop to BYU administrators. I have known Steven and his family for nearly twenty years. We have collaborated together. We are friends.

Steven was born in Salt Lake City in 1954. After high school he enrolled as a student at Brown University. He served a mission in France from 1974 to 1976. A section from his poem "Tangled Woods and Parisian Light" (Sunstone, April 1991) evokes an experience from that time, contrasting the quiet message of two missionaries with a riot taking place nearby:

  . . .

  A boy clung to his father's leg
  Eyes on the street wide and wincing,
  The man cradled his son's head listening
  While the other pair spoke in low voices,
  Searching for words in an alien tongue.

  A dog was strung up on a lamp post,
  A placard hung round its attenuated neck,
  Its hanging tongue the same deep crimson
  As the shrill apocalyptic text
  Which it bore upon its broken chest.

  The two bent nearer the father and the son
  As if to shield them from the proximate menace,
  Continuing the tale of a youth
  And the questions he bore into a tangled wood.

  The seried ranks of acolytes bore the epicenter of the quake away
  Leaving clustered knots of onlookers among the rubble
  To register the aftershocks, the emptied vials of wrath --
  The simplicity of the shouted syllogisms
  The utter directness of the violence
  The thrill of the extraordinary gesture.

  The tale neared its end:

  "The woods shone.
  The boy returned through the fields,
  A live ember of divine words in his hand.
  And thus his story began."

Steven was graduated from Brown in religious studies in 1979. He married Diana Girsdansky, whom he had met in the Providence Ward. After he had earned an M.A. from the University of Chicago Divinity School, Steven moved with Diana and their children to Princeton, New Jersey, where they spent a year before beginning a Ph.D. program in religious studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. I still remember the first priesthood meeting I sat through with the young man whose earnest voice and careful thinking made us all look forward to the year he would spend as a member of the Princeton Ward. At Temple, Steven studied with Paul van Buren, now director of the Center of Ethics and Religious Pluralism at the Shalom Institute in Jerusalem, and worked with Mormon historian Richard Bushman, then at the University of Delaware. For a personal description of Steven's years at Temple, see "House of the Temple, House of the Lord: A View from Philadelphia" (Dialogue, Fall 1987).

After graduation, the Eppersons moved to Salt Lake City, where Steven became history curator at the Museum of Church History and Art. He helped develop the permanent exhibition of Church history now displayed on the museum's main floor and curated various exhibitions on Church history and art, including "The Mountain of the House of the Lord," an exhibit commemorating the centennial of the Salt Lake Temple. In 1993 Steven began teaching as an assistant professor in BYU's history department.

When BYU's new policy required Steven's Bishop, Andrew Clark, to certify his temple worthiness, Clark refused, on the grounds that Steven was not attending Sunday school or priesthood meeting, nor was he currently paying tithing. Some background on both counts will be helpful.

Although he was still paying fast offerings, Steven was in fact paying no tithing at the time. Diana was starting up the Children's Music Conservatory, a public, non-profit, and initially expensive undertaking, and their best estimate was that after the Music Conservatory's summer camp in June it would begin to break even and they would be repaid the money they had paid out.

Hannah, the Epperson's daughter, and Diana were not attending church, the family was going off in different directions, Steven reports, and there was some tension and disagreement. Uncomfortable with that state of affairs, they followed Hannah's advice and sought a Sunday activity they could do together as a family. Eventually they began going to Pioneer Park to join other Salt Lake residents in feeding the homeless. This was a deliberate and thoughtful attempt to keep the family together and focused on Sunday-related issues and services. Between November 1995 and April 1996, Steven raced back from Pioneer Park to attend sacrament meeting in his ward.

On May fifth, several months after Bishop Clark's initial refusal to certify Steven temple worthy and after Steven had been contacted by James Gordon, Steven met with Clark. He offered, despite the family problems it would cause, to attend priesthood and Sunday school in a neighboring ward, and explained he would pay tithing again after the Conservatory's summer camp. On the same day, in an incident that felt, in the context of the attempt to come to terms, like a slap in the face, Clark refused to approve Nick, the Epperson's youngest son, for ordination to the priesthood -- because he would not promise to attend all of his meetings. Nick said he would be with his family half of the month and attend meetings the other half; but this wasn't good enough for Clark.

On May 10, Steven had a follow-up telephone conversation with Clark, who told him that July-September was an insufficient period to judge whether he was a sincere tithe payer, and that no other church meetings would fill the requirement. Steven was a member of the 18th Ward. Period. Clark lectured Steven on principles of "priesthood leadership," explaining that Steven should lead and expect his family to follow as he "laid out the program." (Later in the month, Steven met with Stake President Wood in a desparate attempt to plead Nick's case. Wood listened while Steven explained that it felt to him that Clark was punishing Nick for Steven's choices, but finally said he would have to work out the matter with Clark.)

All Steven could hope for at this point was that the BYU administration would try to understand that his predicament was the result of the inflexibility of his local leaders, and perhaps intervene. On May 17, Steven met with Gordon and told him that Clark had rebuffed his good faith effort to begin paying tithing at the end of June and to attend priesthood and Sunday school in another ward. He asked Gordon to speak with his bishop to try to achieve a compromise. Gordon said he could do nothing.

Finally, in mid-October, Gordon asked Steven if he could speak with his bishop. Steven agreed, asking only that Gordon give him a full report of what Clark said, so that he could verify the information. Gordon agreed. On October 22, Steven was summoned to Gordon's office, to discuss, Steven thought, what the bishop had said. Gordon gave a short report of his conversation with Clark. Steven responded. The letter of dismissal, which Gordon subsequently handed to Steven, was lying on the desk while they spoke. The administration had decided, the letter said, to terminate Steven's contract as of August 1997.

When Gordon later explained, in a Deseret News article about Steven's dismissal (23 January 1997), that the person involved "can give us permission to speak with the bishop, and we will work with people if they are making a good faith effort," it did not match the process Steven had experienced, for Gordon had refused to speak with the bishop to work things out and denied Steven's good faith effort in the face of absolute inflexibility.

I tell this story not to argue that Steven was doing something better than going to church, nor to argue that his stubbornness in the face of what he saw as un-Christian inflexibility was the most politic choice, but rather to point out that routine church activity (as opposed to deeply held values) may be subject to circumstances. What is possible one year becomes more complicated the next; sometimes family dynamics require innovative strategies. A religious community that governs itself according to the spirit of its laws and basic principles, such as the sanctity of marriage, the primacy of the family, self reliance, etc., should be flexible enough to include a variety of non-destructive behaviors. A formalistic, impatient, over-pious community may break its less-orthodox members on the wheel of ephemeral policy. Do thirty years of devotion, tithe paying, a mission, temple marriage, and church work mean nothing in the face of a year of well-meant but slightly altered church activity?

Where does this kind of insistence on the letter of administrative procedure get us? Will more people comply with its demands than before the new policy? And more to the point, will BYU faculty and staff now be more spiritual? Or do others respond to coercion the way I do? My nature is to do well the things I choose and to despise and evade what I am forced to do. Or, if I decide to knuckle under even while disagreeing with the requirement, I experience a diminished sense of dignity. Emphasizing the letter over the spirit shifts a people's sense of morality from heartfelt individual commitment to superficial observance of outward requirements. And the arbitrariness of the policy is staggering; in contrast to Steven's case, one Tooele County bishop has called a ward member who finds church attendance distasteful to serve breakfast to the homeless in Salt Lake City.

Steven Epperson stands for others who are currently under investigation by the BYU administration (on December 13, 1996, Merrill Bateman told BYU Humanities faculty that these number approximately 100) and who, too, may be asked to leave, one by one, in the coming months. By insisting on the letter of its new policy, by weeding out members of the staff and faculty who cannot satisfy individual bishops' personal interpretations of the standard of temple worthiness, no matter how idiosyncratic, what does the University lose?

In Steven, it loses one of the fine apologists for our religion. As an invited speaker at conferences in Jerusalem, Baltimore, the former Soviet Union, and elsewhere, Steven has argued our case eloquently. Thinking people in many parts of the globe hold us in higher esteem as a people because he confesses our creed. Jacob Neusner, distinguished research professor of religious studies at the University of South Florida, begins his review of Steven's book Mormons and Jews: Early Mormon Theologies of Israel (Signature Books, 1992) with the words "Brilliantly conceived and elegantly executed," and then writes of "the doctrines Epperson lays out with the authority of scholarship and the passion of faith. He writes with craft and care; he speaks with humility; in the framework of his subject and his sources, he has given us a small masterpiece" (Sunstone, December 1994, 71-73). And he continues with an anecdote that illustrates the service Epperson has performed for the Church:

A personal word may prove illuminating. The first time I lectured at Brigham Young University, my topic, Pharisaism in the first century, spelled out in four academic lectures, interested only a few. The question periods after each lecture provided an exercise in practical missiology for young Mormons. I was the designated candidate, they, the aggressive proselytizers, and the protracted question periods, for four successive days, concerned only, what does a Jew say to this argument? And how can we devise a compelling answer to that negative response? In the end I wondered why my hosts had gone to so much trouble to bring me to undergo so sustained and demeaning a public roast. I left with the impression that all the Mormons wanted to know about the Jews was why we were not Mormons. When the Mormons sought permission to build their center in Jerusalem, I therefore took note, in the Jerusalem Post, that they have written a long record of persistent missions to Israel, the Jewish people, marked by an utter absence or regard for our religion, the Torah.

But God does not leave us standing still. People change, and God changes us. So I hasten to add that subsequent visits to Provo have proved far more productive. . . . Epperson's definitive work, both the historical and the theological chapters, lays sturdy foundations for the construction of a two-way street, one that both religious communities, each a pilgrim people, stubborn in its faith, eternal in its quest to serve and love God with and through intelligence (which is God's glory), may share as they trek toward that common goal that Israelite prophecy has defined for us all. (73)

Along with Steven's skill as apologist, we lose a talent for thinking creatively about our own beliefs and institutions. Consider, for example, the following depiction of the temple and its possibilities:

The temple is a paradox, an earthly home for a transcendent God. It cannot house his glory, yet he bids his children raise its walls, adorn its chambers, weave its veil. For he chooses just this place and not celestial spheres to disclose and veil his presence among the children of Israel. Signs of fellowship and wisdom, signs of sovereignty and orientation hewn upon the temple's sheer face betoken the knowledge and endowment bestowed within. Mortal hands and eyes are led by ones immortal to frame the fearful symmetry of his form, his house, his kingdom here on earth. We cannot place the crown upon his kingdom -- cannot bind all wounds, sate all hunger, pacify all violence, wipe away all tears. Yet he bids, he demands a realm of equity and justice, now, from our flawed hearts and feeble hands.

The House of the Lord is the matrix for the kingdom of God on earth. The temple transmutes city and wilderness: it pursues neither Eden, nor the heavenly Jerusalem. It sanctions neither a naive return to a romanticized past, nor the negation of the sensuous present, the real, for an abstract future. Rather, by a mysterious alchemy conjured through the conjunction of words from an improbable rite, it would bridge the rift between parents and children, the whole estranged family of Adam and Eve, and it would establish Enoch's city here, in this world, through unnumbered acts of charity and justice. (Dialogue, Fall 1987, p. 140.)

We lose, in addition, a fine critical eye. Steven recently published, for example, at the invitation of the editor of BYU Studies, a review essay of Robert Millett's and Joseph McConkie's Our Destiny: The Call and Election of the House of Israel (SLC: Bookcraft, 1993), a review that will help us, if we listen, move beyond morally ambiguous patterns of accepted thought. Steven points out, for instance, that

. . . . the authors contend that since "literal blood descent" from Abraham delivers "the right to the gospel, the priesthood, and the glories of eternal life," "rights" by blood descent are crucial for the exercise of legitimate authority to establish and maintain the Church. They claim that such authority is rooted securely, since the church's early leaders "were all of one stock," sharing with Joseph Smith a "pure . . . blood strain from Ephraim"; they are "pure-blooded Israelite[s]." This teaching, they assert, is to be taken literally; it is "neither myth nor metaphor." ("Some Problems with Supersessionism in Mormon Thought," BYU Studies V. 34, No. 4, 1994-1995, 132)

He then demonstrates that such assertions of pure blood lines are biological nonsense and points out that when the authors cite William J. Cameron as an authority and a "wise man," they are associating themselves with the thought and person of the editor of Henry Ford's Dearborn Independent, a virulently anti-Semitic weekly, with a man who was subsequently the editor of Destiny, the publication of the anti-Semitic Anglo-Saxon Federation of America. Cameron maintained, Epperson writes, "that Jesus `was not a Jew. And the Jews, as we know them, are not the true sons of Israel. It was the Anglo-Saxons who descended from the ten lost tribes of Israel'" (133). The review ends with a question: "Is it possible that, just when the LDS community is emerging from ethnic, linguistic, and geographical parochialism to become a world-wide religion, that Our Destiny would unwittingly turn us back?" Millett and McConkie had the opportunity to defend themselves, so this was no one-sided polemic. (And in fact, Steven received a letter from Salt Lake lawyer Oscar McConkie threatening legal action for having supposedly called Joseph McConkie racist.) Rather it was the kind of activity you hope university professors will engage in; for in the give and take of discussion ideas are sharpened and deepened and revealed for what they are.

Epperson was hired at BYU, in part, because of the quality of his book Mormons and Jews, which won the Mormon History Association's 1993 Francis Chipman Award for Best First Book and, in an earlier form, the MHA's William Grover and Winifred Foster Reese Best Dissertation Award. In the Fall of 1995, Steven underwent a routine third-year review in which departmental, college, and university committees judged whether he was making the progress in citizenship, teaching, and scholarship required of an assistant professor. During the process, the orthodoxy and quality of Mormons and Jews became the crucial questions in evaluating Steven as a professor, even though the book had been disallowed for consideration as productive scholarship during Steven's three trial years because it had been published prior to his arrival at BYU. Academic Vice President Alan Wilkins, after an hour-long discussion of the book's orthodoxy with Steven, asked "What would you do if the General Authorities asked you to suppress this, not to teach it, to recant? If they declared that this work wasn't doctrinally sound?" Steven replied that "that is their prerogative; they determine what is doctrinal for the Church. That's not what I do. I don't claim or teach this as doctrine. But I have done a professional job of recovering and re-presenting to readers what is in the historical record."

In late September 1996, nearly half a year after the results of other third-year reviews were announced, James Gordon asked Steven if he could send copies of the book to two outside reviewers for evaluation, and Steven agreed. Two weeks later, however, the evaluation was cut short with the letter announcing that Steven's bishop would not judge him temple worthy. Because of the six-month delay, Steven lost crucial time in the search for another academic position.

Steven Epperson's case is serious enough if it stands alone. But there are professors and staff members in every department of the University whose lives are under scrutiny at the moment, whose years of devoted and skillful service are being discounted under the new ecclesiastical endorsement policy. And if, for various reasons -- perhaps feeling themselves victims of unrighteous dominion, out of pride, from sheer obstinacy -- they refuse to comply to whatever their particular bishop requires, however arbitrarily, we lose their services. I am not arguing for leniency for rapists and thieves and plagiarists. BYU has routinely fired staff, faculty, and administrators caught in acts of moral turpitude. No matter what their skills, a morally solvent institution cannot afford to have such people around.

That is not, however, what is at stake here. The question is why the behaviors that we require of all members of our community, the laws by which we judge one another good or bad, must proliferate as they have. Why must we raise peccadillos to mortal sins? We would all agree that an absolute requirement against murder is in all our best interests and that it is appropriate to force one another not to murder. The consequences of a murder so far outweigh any benefits of free agency that we simply outlaw it.

But what about the cases of occasional church attendance or sporadic tithe paying? There are obvious spiritual benefits to paying tithing, to take the latter example; and a Church university all of whose faculty and staff pay tithing may be an especially fine place. The sweetness of that utopia diminishes, however, when compliance is forced. As opposed to a case of murder, the claims of free agency weigh heavy here.

No, one may argue, we are firing people who don't pay tithing or go to church so that we may employ only people who want to do so. And our new interviewing and screening procedures are aimed at ensuring such voluntary compliance; we are justified in our current practice of turning away for positions candidates who have current temple recommends but who, for some reason, have gone without a recommend previously. My answer is that you simply cannot ensure voluntary compliance. You can't even ensure involuntary compliance for that matter, for there are some bishops who refuse to play this spiritually destructive game. But "ensure" and "voluntary" don't belong in the same sentence. Remember the old joke about free agency and how to enforce it? You can kick out some of the students who wear shorts above the knee and thus force most of the others to wear longer shorts. You can fire faculty members who, for whatever reasons, don't go to church enough to satisfy their bishop and thus put the fear of ecclesiastical non-endorsement into their colleagues. But why would you want to do that? Trust, President Hinkley reminded members of the BYU community on 13 October 1992, comes from the top down.

So, to review my argument: 1. If forced compliance to proliferating policies has little spiritual benefit to the individual or to the university; and 2. if the principle of free agency (over which the war in Heaven was fought) is of extreme importance both to individuals and to the university; then 3. in all cases of transgression except those so egregious that we would all see them as unacceptable, the transgressor might receive charitable counsel but ought never to be coerced to be "good" (by expulsion from school, if a student, or by firing from a job, if staff or faculty). "Teach them correct principles, and let them govern themselves," said our founding Prophet. Do we not believe him? And why do we ignore the clear words of Jesus Christ? "Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel" (Matt. 23:24).

Scott Abbott
Sunstone, February 1997


My dear colleagues:

I have been informed by University administrators that my contract will not be renewed after its expiration in August, 1997. The immediate cause cited for that decision is my failure to obtain, over a reasonable period, the letter of ecclesiastical endorsement which we all must now secure annually in order to remain employed at BYU. It is, I believe, an unfortunate decision. But I will not appeal it or seek to have it set aside. Six months of interviews have served only to disclose how differently my bishop and I perceive my stewardship as husband, father, and priesthood holder. Six months of meetings have only disclosed how willing University administrators are to grant local ecclesiastical leaders inordinate power to determine who works and who does not work for this institution. I cannot imagine, as a condition for employment, submitting annually to the intrusive scrutiny of my private family life mandated by this ill-conceived policy.

It is very important to me, no matter what disagreements there may be between us on this policy issue, that all of you understand how appreciative I am of the confidence and fellowship you extended to me three and a half years ago when you voted to welcome me as a member of this department. I have never taken that trust lightly; I treasure it to this day. I hope only that you will not feel that your good will was mis-placed. When I signed my letter of appointment in 1993, I had every expectation that my stay at BYU would be an enduring and productive one. I am sorry and disappointed, keenly disappointed, that my stay here will be so brief.

I sincerely wish all of you the very best of success in your research, teaching, and service here. We have a marvelous body of students-intelligent, well-meaninged, curious and decent-who need excellent teachers/scholars/saints to assist in their pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. May we be equal to them.

The contract I signed in July is good for the academic year 1996-97. I look forward to our continued professional and personal associations through this year and beyond.


Steven Epperson
Department of History

3. Notes on BYU's 1992 Academic Freedom Statment and Related Policies.

Drafted by B. W. Jorgensen, Associate Professor of English

BYU Chapter, AAUP, January 1997.

  1. The Statement appeals to the 1940 AAUP Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure, yet seems to ignore the AAUP's 1970 "Interpretive Comments," especially comment 3: "Most church-related institutions no longer need or desire the departure from the principle of academic freedom implied in the 1940 Statement, and we do not now endorse such a departure."
  2. BYU's statement is "grounded on a distinction, often blurred but vital and historically based, between individual and institutional academic freedom," and attempts to balance the sometimes conflicting claims of these two freedoms.
  3. The Statement grounds individual academic freedom on the LDS scriptural principle of "individual agency" or "moral agency," concluding that "neither testimony, nor righteousness, nor genuine understanding is possible unless it is freely discovered and voluntarily embraced." Elsewhere the Statement reminds us that "There is no such thing as risk-free genuine education, just as according to LDS theology there is no risk-free earthly experience." Individual academic freedom is defined as a faculty member's right "'to teach and research without interference,' to ask hard questions, to subject answers to rigorous examination, and to engage in scholarship and creative work," and includes "the traditional right to publish or present the results of original research in the reputable scholarly literature and professional conferences of one's academic discipline." The Statement declares BYU's aspiration "to be a host for th[e] integrated search for truth by offering a unique enclave of inquiry, where teachers and students may seek learning 'even by study and also by faith.'" Citing prophetic and scriptural texts, the "scope of integration" is given as "in principle, as wide as truth itself," since "the gospel . . . affirms the full range of human modes of knowing." And in "summary" the Statement declares that "BYU students and their parents are entitled to expect an educational experience that reflects this aspiration."
  4. Nearly twice as long, the discussion of "institutional academic freedom" includes some fourteen footnotes citing recent analyses of academic freedom in religious institutions, and especially a number of articles on the "death" or "decline" of "religious higher education." The sponsors and writers of the Statement seem more anxious to define and defend "institutional academic freedom" than "individual academic freedom," perhaps because they felt the former was insufficiently understood.
  5. The "definition" of this freedom in BYU's case is that "BYU claims the right to maintain [its] identity by the appropriate exercise of its institutional academic freedom," which is "the privilege of universities to pursue their distinctive missions" or to "guarantee institutional autonomy." BYU's "identity" consists in its being "wholly owned by the Church," its mainly LDS faculty and student body, its Honor Code, and the contract stipulation that LDS faculty are "expected . . . to 'live lives of loyalty to the restored gospel.'" The Statement acknowledges that "It is not expected that the faculty will agree on every point of doctrine, much less on the issues in the academic disciplines that divide faculties in any unversity," and cautions that "It is expected . . . that a spirit of Christian charity and common faith in the gospel will unite even those with wide differences and that questions will be raised in ways that seek to strengthen rather than undermine faith."
  6. The discussion of "institutional academic freedom" stresses the institution's right to preserve its identity and pursue its mission (without outside interference); yet the main challenge to BYU's institutional academic freedom seems to be its faculty. Thus the Statment argues that "absolute individual [academic] freedom would place the individual faculty member effectively in charge of defining institutional purpose, thereby infringing on prerogatives that traditionally belong to boards, administrations, and faculty councils." But how "would" faculty ever "defin[e] institutional purpose," except as faculty always do, via syllabi, assignments, tests, texts, lectures, discussions, and critiques of students' work? How could faculty be limited in this normal influence on institutional purpose, unless boards and administrators performed faculty duties?
  7. Clearly one primary area of concern is "disagreement [on] Church doctrine, on which BYU's Board of Trustees claims the right to convey prophetic counsel." Apparently a faculty member might, by somehow opposing or violating "doctrine," commit an "arrogation of authority" and "defin[e] institutional purpose" in a way contrary to what the Board desires. It appears that institutional purpose includes the inculcation of orthodox belief by preventing faculty from disagreeing with the Board on "doctrine" and by reserving to the Board the prerogative of defining what "doctrine" shall include. It would be helpful for the Statement to indicate more fully and precisely what is considered "Church doctrine." Different aspects of "doctrine" would likely pertain to different disciplines; and faculty may be unaware of which statements or positions that pertain to their fields are considered "Church doctrine."
  8. The Statement declares that there cannot be "unlimited institutional academic freedom," yet effectively makes that freedom unlimited in the (undefined) area of "Church doctrine," which includes matters of the deepest personal, communal, and cultural consequence, and in which, if anywhere, individuals should most "freely discover and voluntarily embrace" truth.
  9. The Statement's "reasonable limitations," applying "when the behavior or expression seriously and adversely affects the university mission or the Church," reinforce this sense of unlimited institutional freedom. After its first sentence, this section of the Statement applies "limitation" only to individual academic freedom. It gives three "Examples" of "expression with students or in public." First, expression which "contradicts or opposes, rather than analyzes or discusses, fundamental Church doctrine or policy": this notably qualifies "doctrine" with "fundamental," yet without clarifying what that term means; it noticeably avoids the word "criticise" or any phrase like "ask hard questions," and faculty may wonder where the line will be drawn between "analyze" and "contradict." Second, expression which "deliberately attacks or derides the Church or its general leaders": it is not clear whether this makes the words or ideas of general Church leaders immune from critical discussion, even when those words or ideas are not (or seem not to be) about "fundamental . . . doctrine or policy." The third "example," expression that "violates the Honor Code because [it] is dishonest, illegal, unchaste, profane, or unduly disrespectful of others," offers no criteria for determining when expression falls within at least some of these categories. Without more precise guidelines, or much open discussion, faculty may feel themselves vulnerable to the "determination of harm," despite their most scrupulous efforts to avoid it. The institution's freedom to determine harm by such general and undefined categories as the Statement offers, seems unlimited or absolute.
  10. The policy declares individual academic freedom to be "presumptive," institutional intervention "exceptional," yet it effectively makes the latter absolute in the clause which reserves "ultimate responsibility to determine harm" to the administration and Board of Trustees, without indicating any criteria for determining harm, or any obligation on the administration or Board to demonstrate that harm has been done. There are no visible safeguards in the policy against a single member of the Board "determining harm" and threatening a faculty member's position.
  11. University Policy on Faculty Rank and Status requires University officials to "spell out in detail" the "terms and conditions" of all "offers" of faculty positions and "not to make or imply any oral commitments regarding employment, rank, salary, or work conditions" (2.9). Assuming "work conditions" to include any and all constraints on faculty activity, does not this policy oblige the University to spell out rather fully, in advance and in writing, those areas or kinds of research, creative work, and teaching which it does regard as "adverse" to the interests of the church and the university?
  12. The policy and procedures for handling complaints against faculty which are sent to General Authorities are internally incoherent and serve to perpetuate the very practices which they ostensibly discourage. That is, if this sort of "offense" is to be dealt with at the lowest possible level, it does not make sense to involve all the intervening levels, from General Authority to Commissioner to President to Dean to Chair, by sending the complaints down through those channels. With anonymous letters (which history shows to be often vicious), the policy guarantees that the whole weight of the Church and university hierarchy will be brought to bear on the target of the attack, while preserving the anonymity of the accuser.

B[ruce]. W. Jorgensen
3183 JKHB
English Department
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602-6280
Telephone: (801) 378-3205

4. Information on the BYU Visit of the National AAUP Investigative Team

January 29, 1997

Report On The BYU Campus Visit By The National AAUP Investigative Committee

At the request of BYU's chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), a panel of investigators appointed by the national AAUP came to the BYU campus this past week to examine issues of academic freedom at BYU. The panel spent Thursday January 23 through Saturday January 25 in Provo.

Long-time AAUP members and officers, Linda Pratt, Chair of the English Department at the University of Nebraska and Bill Heywood, Emeritus Professor of History at Cornell College met with more than 120 people while on campus.

The investigative committee heard from a wide range of BYU staff including administrators President Merrill Bateman, Alan Wilkins, Jim Gordon, and John Tanner; Professor Gail Houston; the authors of BYU's Statement on Academic Freedom; the present and past chairs of the Faculty Women's Association; approximately thirty-five faculty members and students who responded to the invitation for public discussion; Professor Houston's appeal panel; the 1995-1996 University Faculty Council on Rank and Status; administrators from the College of Humanities; and panels organized by the BYU AAUP Chapter working with the BYU administration dealing with Women and Academic Freedom, Hiring, Retention, Advancement, and Censorship.

The BYU AAUP chapter attempted to ensure that the national committee heard from all sides of the academic freedom issue at BYU. We scheduled every faculty and staff person and student who voiced interest by Wednesday afternoon for discussion with the committee. Beyond that, several late-comers were able to speak as well.

Representatives of our chapter also invited the BYU administration to provide us with a list of persons they wanted to talk with the committee. To the best of our knowledge, the investigative committee heard from every person on the administration's list. The meetings were professional and cordial as the committee gathered pertinent information.

Many who testified felt they were doing so at some risk to themselves, but felt it was important they be heard. A wide variety of opinion was expressed, and many individual stories were told. If any members of the BYU community have continuing interest in the process, they are invited to submit written comments to the AAUP investigative committee.

We have been asked repeatedly about what happens next. The national committee, which listened to involved parties and collected written documents, will now prepare a report on academic freedom at BYU. This report will be submitted to BYU officials for comment.

If the report suggests problems with academic freedom issues at BYU, we envision several possible outcomes. For example, the BYU administration and faculty could further refine the academic freedom document; instigate a program to clarify and make adjustments to the grievance process; further refine policies and procedures; etc.

In the event serious problems with academic freedom are found and our administration is unable to work out such problems with the AAUP, the possibility exists of a formal censure. We sincerely hope that this does not happen, for it would put us in the company of such academically peripheral institutions as Southwestern Adventist College (Texas), Southern Nazarene University (Oklahoma), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (North Carolina), University of Bridgeport, Stevens Institute of Technology (New Jersey), and Garland County Community College (Arkansas).

Good institutions are censured by the AAUP from time to time for single incidents (USC and NYU are currently on the list). Historically such universities work quickly and intensely to have the censure lifted, for the academic reputation and prestige of a college or university is at stake.

BYU is a fine university that over the years has developed a reputation for academic excellence in the context of religious faith. Members of our local AAUP chapter have been proud to make contributions to that reputation. We believe that our actions at this time continue to serve students and faculty at BYU, as well as the Church at large. Our opposition to current academic freedom policies, in short, is a loyal opposition. We will be a better university if we operate within a context of respect for and trust of multiple points of view.

Our BYU chapter has no disagreement with the proposition that a religious university should have the opportunity to suggest certain limitations to academic freedom. Our belief, however, is that such limitations must be narrow, well defined and clearly communicated. Furthermore, the limitations must be understood from the outset of employment. We do not feel these conditions have been met recently at BYU.

Finally, our local chapter wants to thank the BYU administration and individual professors and students who made the recent visit of the national AAUP investigative committee successful.

Contact persons (Members of the Board of Directors of the BYU Chapter of the AAUP):

Scott Abbott; 378-3207
Bill Evenson; 378-6078
Susan Howe 378-2363
Duane Jeffery 378-2155
Sam Rushforth; 378-2438
Brandie Siegfried 378- 8106

5. Gail Houston; Pertinent Information and Documents Relevant to Houston's Tenure Denial

The BYU Chapter of the AAUP and the National AAUP is seeking more information concerning Gail Turley Houston's Tenure Denial at Brigham Young University. The following documents are pertinent to this investigation. [Gail näyttää nykyään olevan New Mexicon yliopiston palveluksessa. suom.huom. 2000-11]

A Letter from the National AAUP to Gail Houston, August 15, 1996 Discussing Houston's Firing

August 15, 1996

Professor Gail Turley Houston
105l Fir Avenue
Provo, Utah 84604

Dear Professor Houston:

We have examined the abundant written material that you and our AAUP chapter have shared with us regarding the decision not to grant you continuing faculty status at Brigham Young University. Our paramount interest in this kind of situation, as I am sure you know, relates to academic freedom, both the impact on your own academic freedom and the climate for academic freedom at the institution on whose faculty you have served. Our reading has left us with a very deep sense of concern, much of it already enunciated in the communications that the AAUP chapter submitted to President Bateman on June 27. Noting that a hearing on your appeal against the decision of the President and the Provost is still to occur but is scheduled for the immediate future, we think it appropriate to await the result of that hearing before, assuming the decision stands, conveying our concern directly to the chief administrative officers and inviting their response. Meanwhile, I want to provide you and our chapter officers with a preliminary assessment of the very troublesome issues of academic freedom that your case poses to us. I shall refer, not in any order of relative importance, to four such issues.

First, the available evidence strongly suggests that the university administration, while allowing the offering of courses dealing with feminism and postmodernism, and while engaging faculty members such as yourself who specialize in these areas, determined tnat your services should be terminated not because of any significant deficiency in your widely praised academic performance but because some few found your handling of the subject matter offensive to the teachings or traditions of the university's sponsoring church regarding the role of women in society.

Second, following positive recommendations based on your academic record on your candidacy for continuing status from your department and your college committees and administrators, the University Faculty Council on Rank and Status evidently rejected your candidacy on grounds of "citizenship," focusing on questions about your religious beliefs and orthodoxy that most would see as private and personal and simply not the business of persons charged with evaluating academic performance. This seems to us an especially troublesome concern for academic freedom in the case of someone, like yourself, who has reportedly been judged temple worthy and otherwlse in good standing by your responsible ecclesiastical superiors in your church.

Third, with respect to the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic freedom and Tenure and its premise that there can be limitations on academic freedom and tenure because of the institution's religious aims provided that the limits are set forth in writing, the authors of that document--university professors and university presidents--emphasized at the outset that any stated limitations must be narrowly crafted and precise. The limitations discussed in the Brigham Young University statement on academic freedom strike us as very far from precise, and we do not see them as notifying you adequately of parameters on your academic freedom in the areas or incidents in which shortcomings by you were subsequently alleged.

Fourth, there seem, after all, to have been a total of three incidents during your years on the faculty in which you said or did something publicly that later was cited as ground for concern about your "citizenship" in assessing your fitness for continuance on the faculty: what you wrote for Student Review. your Sunstone presentation, and the "White Roses" event (all of these dating back three or more years). Whether or not you may have crossed the line regarding the Bngham Young University expectations of adherence to academic freedom limitations in any of these incidents, if there was a transgression it seems to us to have been exceedingly slight. The finding of the University Faculty Council on Rank and Status, apparently endorsed by the administration, that these activities by you "not only have . . . failed to strengthen the moral vigor of the university, they have enervated its very fiber" tells us that the university administration's willingness and ability to stand up for academic freedom is weak indeed.

Please continue to keep us informed.


Jordan E. Kurland

cc: Professor Scott Abbott, President
AAUP Chapter

A Letter from the BYU AAUP to Merrill Bateman, September 24, 1996, Outlining our Concerns about the Houston Case and Seeking an Investigation from the National AAUP

24 September 1996

Dr. Merrill J. Bateman
President, Brigham Young University
D-346 ASB
Provo, Utah 84602-1346

Dear President Bateman:

The BYU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors is concerned with the recent firing of Professor GailTurley Houston. We had hoped the decision would be reversed either by the appeal panel or by you. Apparently members of the panel were sympathetic to many of the arguments made in Prof. Houston's behalf, but the University advocate asked the panel to rule only on whether proper procedures had been followed. Our Chapter is convinced that procedures were indeed violated (as pointed out in previous correspondence) but that is not the main purpose of this letter.

Our main concern here is with the arguments made about violations of Prof. Houston's academic freedom--large issues that include misrepresentations and misunderstandings of feminist and postmodern theory. We are discouraged with the atmosphere for faculty and staff at BYU, particularly for women. Likewise, we take issue with growing restrictions on scholarship and teaching at BYU.

After a review of many of the relevant documents, a representative of our national organization offered the following preliminary evaluation of the situation:

    August 15, 1996

    Dear Professor Houston:

    We have examined the abundant written material that you and our AAUP chapter have shared with us regarding the decision not to grant you continuing faculty status at Brigham Young University. . . . I want to provide you and our chapter officers with a preliminary assessment of the very troublesome issues of academic freedom that your cases poses to us. I shall refer, not in any order of relative importance, to four such issues.

    First, the available evidence strongly suggests that the university administration, while allowing the offering of courses dealing with feminism and postmodernism, and while engaging faculty members such as yourself who specialize in these areas, determined that your services should be terminated not because of any significant deficiency in your widely praised academic performance but because some few found your handling of the subject matter offensive to the teachings or traditions of the university's sponsoring church regarding the role of women in society.

    Second, following positive recommendations based on your academic record on your candidacy for continuing status from your department and your college committees and administrators, the University Faculty council on Rank and Status evidently rejected your candidacy on grounds of "citizenship," focusing on questions about your religious beliefs and orthodoxy that most would see as private and personal and simply not the business of persons charged with evaluating academic performance. This seems to us an especially troublesome concern for academic freedom in the case of someone, like yourself, who has reportedly been judged "temple worthy" and otherwise in good standing by your responsible ecclesiastical superiors in your church.

    Third, with respect to the 1940 'Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure' and its premise that there can be limitations on academic freedom and tenure because of the institution's religious aims provided that the limits are set forth in writing, the authors of that document -- university professors and university presidents -- emphasized at the outset that any stated limitations must be narrowly crafted and precise. The limitations discussed in the BYU statement on academic freedom strike us as very far from precise, and we do not see them as notifying you adequately of parameters on your academic freedom in the areas or incidents in which shortcomings by you were subsequently alleged.

    Fourth, there seem, after all, to have been a total of three incidents during your years on the faculty in which you said or did something publicly that later was cited as ground for concern about your "citizenship" in assessing your fitness for continuance on the faculty: what you wrote for Student Review, your Sunstone presentation, and the "White Roses" event (all of these dating back three or more years). Whether or not you may have crossed the line regarding the BYU expectations of adherence to academic freedom limitations in any of the mentioned incidents, if there was a transgression it seems to us to have been exceedingly slight. The finding of the University Faculty Council on Rank and Status, apparently endorsed by the administration, that these activities by you 'not only have . . .failed to strengthen the moral vigor of the university, they have enervated its very fiber' tells us that the university administration's willingness and ability to stand up for academic freedom is weak indeed. . . .


    Jordan E. Kurland
    Associate General Secretary of the AAUP

The members of our Chapter concur with this evaluation and are committed to bringing about more open and tolerant conditions at BYU. We wish to work with colleagues and the administration to recreate an atmosphere in which discussion is possible, scholarship is encouraged, trust is a matter of course, and the principles espoused in our "Statement on Academic Freedom" are adhered to.

As pointed out in the University Self Study and in the accreditation report of the Commission on Colleges of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, there are serious problems here with faculty and staff morale. A series of apparently harsh and unfair decisions on tenure and promotion, including most recently Prof. Houston's case, has affected that morale substantially. Further, our reputation as an academic institution has begun to fall as we take actions clearly in conflict with accepted and proven academic practice. As a result, departments are finding it ever more difficult to hire new faculty, early retirements are increasing, and tenured and untenured faculty are taking jobs elsewhere. We must take action to reverse that trend.

In this spirit, we have decided to ask the National AAUP to more thoroughly review Professor Houston's firing. We believe it is in the best interest of the university to obtain the opinion of an impartial external organization whose main purpose is to further academic freedom at colleges and universities across the country. We have no punitive goal in mind. But we are committed as a group and as individuals to the long-term health and flourishing of BYU. Many of us have been here for our entire careers and want nothing more than to see BYU reach its full potential as a university with deep religious commitments. This is possible only if we foster a rigorous ethical and academic standard in fact and not only in theory. So, we will continue to work for the advancement of our institution.


Members of the BYU Chapter of the AAUP

cc Jordan E. Kurland, AAUP

A Letter from the National AAUP to Merrill Bateman, October 1, 1996 outlining Concerns Relating to Houston's Firing and Asking for Information from BYU

October 1, 1996

Dr. Merrill J. Bateman
Brigham Young University
D-346 ASB
P.O. Box 21346
Provo, Utah 84602-1346

Dear President Bateman:

Dr. Gail Turley Houston, who has served as Assistant Professor of English at Brigham Young University, has sought the advice and assistance of the American Association of University Professors as a result of the letter of June 5, 1996, signed by the Associate Academic Vice President, the Dean of her College, and the Chair of her Department, informing her that the President and provost had decided against granting her continuing faculty status. We understand that Professor Houston appealed the decision to an appointed panel and that by letter of September 11 you informed her that you had accepted the panel's recommendation that the decision be sustained.

The interest of this Association in Professor Houston's case -- requested also by the Brigham Young AAUP chapter officers as indicated in their letter to you of September 24 -- stems from our longstanding commitment to academic freedom and tenure. The basic tenets are enunciated in the enclosed State of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, coauthored by the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges and Universities and endorsed by over 150 professional organizations and learned societies. Derivative standards applicable to probationary faculty members are set forth in AAUP's enclosed Statement on Procedural Standards in the Renewal or Nonrenewal of Faculty Appointments. Also relevant are Regulation 9 ("Academic Freedom and Protection against Discrimination") and Regulation 10 ("Complaints of Violation of Academic Freedom or of Discrimination in Nonreappointment") in our enclosed Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and tenure. We are familiar with Brigham Young University's University Policy on Faculty Rank and Status: Professorial.


We wish, first to address a key concern with respect to procedure. As you know, Professor Houston was recommended for continuing status (or indefinite tenure) by the English Department, by its Chair, by the College Committee on Rank and Status, and by the Dean of the College. The University Council on Rank and Status, however, recommended against continuing status for Professor Houston, essentially on the grounds of "citizenship"; the Academic Vice President concurred, and you and the provost acted in accordance with the negative recommendation.

In moving to contest the decision, Professor Houston alleged that it resulted from considerations violative of her academic freedom and that it constituted discrimination against her on the basis of sex. Under the enclosed AAUP-supported standards, she should have been afforded opportunity to have these allegations heard by an elected faculty body and potentially in an adjudicative hearing of record. By contrast, Professor Houston's appeal was directed to an administration-appointed panel of five persons, three of them administrators including the panel's chair. In his pre-hearing response to Professor Houston's appeal, the administration's representative did not squarely address her complaints regarding academic freedom and discrimination, asserting that "the only issue before this panel is the reasonableness of the President's decision." In its recommendation that the decision be upheld, the panel, except for stating that its considerations included "more general concerns about the environment for women faculty on campus," also did not address the issues of academic freedom and discrimination. Professor Houston's allegations thus seem to have gone unrebutted and untested at the university.


With respect to discrimination issues, we understand that on September 23 Professor Houston filed a complaint with the Utah Industrial Commission's Anti-Discrimination Division. Several additional complaints involving women at BYU have been brought to our attention over the last year or two. Suffice it for now for us to remark that we wonder whether the result for Professor Houston, were she not a woman, would have been the same.

With respect to academic freedom issues, the AAUP chapter's September 24 letter to you includes the preliminary assessment that I sent to the chapter and to Professor Houston on August 15. A copy of the August 15 letter is enclosed for your convenience. We subsequently examined voluminous documentation that went into the record of Professor Houston's appeal, and nothing that we have read leads us to modify our comments on the four areas of concern that we addressed. We would very much welcome having the university administration's response to these concerns, and any other information you can provide that would add to our understanding of the decision to deny Professor Houston continuing faculty status, as we proceed to determine our further responsibilties in the matter.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Jordan E. Kurland
Associate General Secretary, AAUP

Article from the October 25, 1996 "Daily Herald" on the National AAUP Seeking Response from BYU on the Firing of Gail Houston

BYU Group Asks For Investigation

The Daily Herald October 25, 1996

A professional faculty association at Brigham Young University is calling for an outside review of academic freedom at the Mormon Church-owned school.


Members of the BYU chapter of the American Association of University Professors have asked their parent organization to investigate the university's decision in June to deny continuing status to assistant English Professor Gail Houston.

A report of alleged violations of academic freedom at BYU has been supplied by faculty to the national organization, which has asked university President Merrill J. Bateman for an explanation of Houston's dismissal and other issues raised by the local AAUP chapter.

Houston, who now teaches at the University of New Mexico, was denied tenure in June for allegedly contradicting fundamental Mormon doctrine and attacking The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its views on women.

In September, a five-member appeals panel composed of two associate academic vice presidents and three faculty members upheld Houston's dismissal by Bateman, who acted on the recommendation of the University Faculty Council on Rank and Status.

But the AAUP believes the university's action and subsequent appeals process was fraught with problems. In a Sept. 24 letter to Bateman, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Herald, local chapter members say BYU violated procedure and Houston's academic freedom.

AAUP members contend in the letter that the appeals panel was improperly limited to a review of whether proper procedure was followed in Houston's case and was not allowed to address the substantive issues she raised about gender discrimination and an overall hostile environment toward women at BYU.

"We are discouraged with the atmosphere for faculty and staff at BYU, particularly for women," AAUP members told Bateman in the letter. "Likewise, we take issue with growing restrictions on scholarship and teaching at BYU."

Chapter members further state in the letter that they believe it is in the best interest of BYU to get the opinion of the national AAUP, an impartial organization dedicated to the furthering of academic freedom at colleges and universities throughout the country.

But Jim Gordon, BYU associate academic vice president, disputes any suggestion of impropriety by the university. He said the appeals panel was fair and weighed both arguments about alleged procedural errors and the merits of Houston's dismissal before recommending Bateman's original decision be sustained.

l "BYU is very open about what its standards are," Gordon said. "The university holds everyone to the same standard. The problem was not that she was treated differently, but that she chose to violate those standards by contradicting fundamental church doctrines and attacking the church."

Among Houston's more egregious errors, as far as BYU is concerned, was her open admission of praying to a Heavenly Mother and alleged support for the right to reject church prophets' and priesthood leaders' pronouncements on the role of women. In addition, the administration took issue with her expressing agreement with individuals who had been excommunicated by the church for apostasy.

Despite those accusations, Houston has steadfastly maintained her loyalty to the church and university. She accuses the university of violating her academic freedom and of having a hostile attitude toward women in general and her in particular.

"It's really very sad to see the oppressive atmosphere that is taking place at BYU." she said.

While making no definitive ruling on Houston's case, the national AAUP has expressed support. In an Aug. 15 Ietter to Houston, a copy of which was provided to Bateman, AAUP Associate General Secretary Jordan Kurland said her case suggests that she was dismissed "not because of any significant deficiency" in academic performance, but because of her handling of church teachings on the role of women in society.

Kurland stated in the letter that a person's religious beliefs are not the business of those who judge academic performance. He further said the limits BYU places on academic freedom are imprecise and out of harmony with the AAUP's 1940 declaration on the principle of academic freedom.

"The finding of the University Faculty Council on Rank and Status, apparently endorsed by the administration, ... tells us that the university administration's willingness and ability to stand up for academic freedom is weak indeed," Kurland wrote.

The disagreement over Houston's firing underscores the tension between the administration and BYU's chapter of the AAUP which has about 50 members. Organized in spring 1995 after a 21-year absence on campus, the BYU chapter has been unsuccessful in its repeated attempts to meet with Bateman. The president has thus far elected to respond to members as individuals, rather than recognize them as a group.

AAUP members at BYU, at BYU as well as some who do not belong to the organization, believe there has been a systematic erosion of academic freedom and a general climate of fear on campus over the past five years. As evidence, they cite BYU's new policy that requires ecclesiastical leaders to inform the administration if BYU employees in their congregations are worthy to enter Mormon temples.

Concern has also been expressed about BYU's treatment of feminists and about the number of faculty candidates, particularly in the English department, who have been rejected by the administration without explanation.

6. Brian Evenson; Letter of Resignation from BYU


Brian Evenson
Department of English, 205 Morrill
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078

Open letter addressed to Jay Fox, Chair
Department of English, 3146 JKHB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602

Dear Jay,

Though I respect many of the faculty and students at Brigham Young, I do not feel that BYU fosters the academic freedom and exploration which are necessary to a university environment. Indeed, I feel that many of BYU's administrators, as well certain members of the faculty and some of the students, are taking action and imposing restrictions which severely stifle academic freedom. BYU provides a climate in which academic inquiry is not allowed unless it is restricted within unacceptably narrow parameters. All indications suggest that these parameters will continue to narrow.

I have very specific objections to Brigham Young University's current policies. For instance:

--Though I do not object to temple worthiness, I object to the way in which temple worthiness is now being enforced. I feel the policy will lead on the one hand to hypocrisy and on the other to the lessening of the enjoyment many BYU faculty members will receive from attending the temple and from paying their tithing.

--I feel that BYU creates a hostile work environment for women: women who are scholars and women involved in cultural studies and gender studies in particular. I feel that BYU's harassment of the women's organization Voice-- as well as President Bateman's and the administration's attack of the nationwide clothesline project --show a lack of understanding of and sympathy toward abuse. I am not willing to participate, even passively, in the maintenance of such an environment.

--I feel that President Bateman's unwillingness to acknowledge the AAUP Academic Freedom Association is reflective of BYU's larger unwillingness to allow academic freedom in certain areas.

--I believe the continuing status review process as it currently stands is dishonest and manipulative. I feel this in particular in Gail Houston's case, in which documents were introduced after the departmental and college level reviews without Gail having a chance to respond to them. I feel that faulty conclusions were drawn --as far as I can tell purposefully. Data that showed Gail to be a dedicated teacher and scholar, as well as a strong spiritual support to students, was interpreted counterproductively. I feel that if I returned to Brigham Young I could not depend on a fair and honest continuing status review.

--I do not feel that I can depend upon your support as a chair. I feel that this is made clear by the way in which you handled Gail's case.

--I have been shocked at the willingness of both President Lee and President Bateman to make uninformed statements in both public and private about the inappropriate nature of my book, particularly when Lee claimed that BYU's process would leave judgement of the book to people trained in literature. Despite all claims made for a fair review process, the administration has already made up its mind. In the case of both presidents, their comments demonstrate that if they have read my book at all, they have read it in only a cursory fashion.

--I feel that Brigham Young University has been dishonest in regard to the anonymous letter that was sent to a general authority criticizing my work. First I was asked to respond to the letter and then, several months after I did so, it was claimed that the anonymous letter was of no importance. Later, BYU disingenuously gave the press the impression that they had arranged for me to meet with the anonymous student and that I even had already done so. In fact, no meeting was ever arranged or planned, despite several requests on my part.

--I am also somewhat disappointed that though the English Department has strong proof that a particular professor has written letters to the General Authorities about myself and others, and has had repeated violations of standards, nothing has been done about him. I think it a profound weakness of the department and of BYU in general that, though you scold such people and warn them, you seem unwilling to fire them. Yet you show no such compunction about releasing scholars such as Gail Houston for reasons which are flimsy and insufficiently substantiated at best.

All this is further complicated by the fact that a General Authority is now the President of the University. Many Mormons teaching at BYU believe it wrong to question the decisions of a General Authority, and many will be unwilling to tell him when he is making poor decisions. I think that in his actions and decisions Merrill Bateman has demonstrated both a willingness to further compromise academic freedom and a lack of understanding of academics and what it takes to run a university effectively. His comments and speeches have made me feel that he is either uninformed or wrongly informed on current trends in academia. I feel that under his leadership BYU can only get worse.

I would not be proud to remain at Brigham Young University. I am not proud of the negative reputation that the BYU English Department is gaining in the profession at large. I am not pleased with the way BYU treats its faculty. I feel that its current policies and attitudes do great damage not only to faculty but to students. For this reason, I am tendering my resignation as an assistant professor of Brigham Young University, effective immediately.


Brian Evenson

7. Issues Pertinent to the Status of Women at BYU

The following document was prepared by a committee of the BYU Chapter of the AAUP during the winter of 1996. This document poses some of the problems with academic freedom for women at BYU.

March 1996

Limitations on the Academic Freedom of Women at Brigham Young University

Because Brigham Young University isowned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Church's leaders have largely determined the attitudes and practices of the university. Those leaders, as well as the university's administration, are all empowered men in the Mormon culture who defines right and good by male standards. The experience of women often calls those male-centered standards into question as incomplete or otherwise inadequate.

As a result, Brigham Young University has a history of suppressing scholarship and artistic expressions representing the experience of women. The following list provides examples of some of the ways in which university officials have acted over the past several years to silence women faculty and staff and suppress their scholarship. University officials imply that their actions with regard to women are taken to ensure that the university uphold the doctrines and standards of the LDS Church. But the women they have silenced or punished are also committed, faithful members of that Church (though the leaders seem to see these women as less important than themselves).

It finally comes down to a question of the right of representation: do Mormon women scholars have the right to represent their own experience in their own voice, or must representations of women and women's experience conform to a male-formulated construct of that experience? This would seem to be an issue of academic freedom that the Accreditation Committee might consider significant in its evaluation of Brigham Young University.

**In 1992 the administration refused to hire candidate Barbara Bishop for a faculty appointment in the English Department, although she was the choice of the section, chair, and college dean for the position and had the full support of her local ecclesiastical leaders. At the time she even headed the Primary (the children's organization of the LDS Church) in her ward (congregation). The reason the administration gave for not approving her hire was that 17 faculty members in the English Department (of a faculty of 75) did not vote in favor of hiring her. Bishop's scholarship dealt with the works of African American writer Zora Neal Hurston and other American women writers.

**In 1992, the LDS Church celebrated the sesquicentennial of the Relief Society, the Church's organization for adult women. In conjunction with that celebration, Professor Marie Cornwall, then the head of the BYU Women's Research Institute, organized a scholarly conference on the Relief Society. Because speakers at that conference criticized as well as praised the Relief Society, Professor Cornwall was called in and censured by University Provost Bruce Hafen for planning this conference and carrying it out.

**In 1992, the organizing committee of the BYU Women's Conference chose as the keynote speaker for the 1993 conference Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, faithful Mormon woman, recent Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, and winner of a MacArthur Grant. Ulrich's book has been so significant because she uses the twenty-year diary of Martha Ballard to reconstruct late 18th-century New England history to include the experiences of women. This study has made scholars of political, economic, social, and medical history of the period revise their conclusions and include women's contributions in their historical research. Brigham Young University's board of trustees did not approve Ulrich to be a speaker for the women's conference. Although both she and her ecclesiastical leaders tried to find out why she was not approved, she was never given a reason.

**In 1993, the board of trustees fired the chair of the BYU women's conference, Carol Lee Hawkins, from her position, even though during the six years she directed the conference, attendance almost doubled and the conference received an approval rating from participants who completed the exit questionnaire of over 90 percent. To explain the firing, the Board suggested only that a change of assignment was a good thing from time to time, as if this position were a Church assignment rather than a paid university administrative position and Hawkins's employment. Just after Carol Lee Hawkins was fired, a group of women's studies faculty from across the university met with University Provost Bruce Hafen and asked him about that action. He answered that Hawkins had not been fired, that she had indicated that she wanted a change in assignment, and that she was just moving to another position in the university. Hafen did nothing to help Hawkins secure another position.

**In the summer of 1993 Provost Bruce Hafen tried to keep faithful Mormon woman and historian Claudia Bushman from speaking in a week-long faculty seminar sponsored by the Dean of Honors and General Education, although her husband Professor Richard Bushman was approved to speak. When Hafen learned that the Bushmans had both already been invited to participate, he required that Honors Dean Harold Miller only advertise Richard Bushman.

**In 1993 the university terminated Professor Cecilia Konchar Farr after her third-year review. Konchar Farr is a feminist activist who worked to educate people about violence against women, who helped establish the feminist activist student club Voice on campus, and who took a public pro-Choice position, although she also said in her speech that she did not favor abortion and fully supported the LDS First Presidency's position on abortion. She also had the full support of her local ecclesiastical leaders as a faithful Mormon, worthy to participate in all Church ordinances. At first the university tried to represent Konchar Farr as an inadequate scholar and teacher, but after the appeal hearing, an agreement was reached by which both sides were to say only that there were "irreconcilable differences" between the administration and Konchar Farr. Again, a woman professor's career was damaged, and the university gave no satisfactory reason for that action. (The accreditation committee might benefit from examining some of the files from the appeal of that decision; these files are in the possession of Professor William A. Wilson, Konchar Farr's advocate in the review proceedings and the chair of the English Department when she was hired.)

**In 1994 candidate Marian Bishop Mumford was selected by the English Department, with the full approval of the department chair and the dean of the College of Humanities, for hire to the faculty of the BYU English Department. Her Ph.D. dissertation was an examination of women's journals, including the journal of Anne Frank, to demonstrate that women construct themselves most authentically in their journals, because they consider themselves to be the sole audience. A part of that study was to examine the ways in which Anne Frank wrote about her body as a way to give herself identity at least in language, in a culture that literally erased her from existence. Acting under the instructions of Provost Bruce Hafen, Chair Neal Lambert told Bishop Mumford that she would be hired only if she agreed to discontinue her current scholarship. The candidate declined to come to Brigham Young University under those circumstances.

**In 1994 and 1995 Joni Clarke was selected from a large pool of applicants as one of the two best candidates for an American literature faculty position in the English Department. She had the full support of her local ecclesiastical leaders and also university academic vice president Alan Wilkins, who called her and interviewed her for over an hour to determine her worthiness to teach at BYU. Her research deals with Native American texts, particularly those by women. Provost Bruce Hafen did not approve her to be considered for hire.

**In 1995 Dorice Elliot was also selected from a large pool of applicants as one of the two best candidates for a British literature faculty position in the English Department. Her research deals with 19th century British literature by women. She is greatly admired by her ecclesiastical leaders because of her work as the Relief Society president in her congregation. Provost Bruce Hafen did not approve her to be considered for hire. In both of the above-mentioned cases, the faithfulness of these women to the Mormon Church was not in question. Why, then, were they excluded from candidacy for hire at Brigham Young University? The administration does not give reasons for its actions, but we may perhaps look at this as part of the pattern of exclusion or silencing of those who want to study women's experience from women's perspective.

**In 1995 Professors Karen E. Gerdes and Martha N. Beck were forbidden from publishing the results of their study of the experiences of Mormon women survivors of childhood sexual abuse who asked for help from their Mormon ecclesiastical leaders. In the majority of cases, the advice these victims received was damaging rather than helpful. Both professors have since left the university; the study appeared in the Spring 1996 issue of Affilia, Journal of Women and Social Work (Vol. 11, No. 1).

**In April 1996 Katherine Kennedy was chosen for an English Department faculty appointment in Romanticism, the unanimous choice of the later British literature section and with almost unanimous support from the department. Kennedy was supported for hire by the dean and even the general authority who interviewed her, as well as by her local ecclesiastical leaders. But the administration rejected her. Kennedy's research examines images of motherhood, including breastfeeding, in British Romantic poetry by women. Regarding the decision not to hire Kennedy, University Academic Vice President Alan Wilkins explained to the Department Advisory Council that the English Department could assume there was something about Kennedy's feminism that the administration did not approve of.

**There is only one university lecture named after a woman, the Alice Louise Reynolds lecture. Money was raised to endow this lecture by Helen Stark, a strong feminist and well-known member of the Mormon community. She herself contributed approximately $15,000 to the endowment fund. Stark died two years ago at the age of 89. In 1995 the committee selected Elouise Bell, a prominent woman full professor to deliver that lecture. The administration not only rejected the woman as the speaker; it informed the committee that Roger R. Keller, a male associate professor from the Department of Religion, would be the speaker. In 1996 the Alice Louise Reynolds lecture was not held.

**For several years women candidates for faculty employment at Brigham Young University have been asked this question by the academic vice president: "If a general authority [general leader of the Mormon Church] asked you not to publish your research, what would you do?" It has been suggested to the candidates that they must agree not to publish in such a case. This condition of employment undermines the position of new women faculty members at Brigham Young University. To be hired, they apparently must agree to let male ecclesiastical leaders who are not trained in their disciplines have final authority over the publication of their scholarship. They are offered no review process to determine the fairness or accuracy of the authority's request. Again, women are instructed that they must suppress their own perspectives on their own experience or research if a male authority so directs them.

**In its entire seventy-five year history, a woman faculty member has never been chosen to present BYU's distinguished faculty lecture.

The BYU AAUP Chapter will provide documentation of all of the above claims upon request. We will obtain statements from or provide the Accreditation Committee with the addresses and telephone numbers of the individuals named in this document.

8. Issues Dealing with the new BYU Ecclesiastical Endorsement Policy

Correspondence Between William E. Evenson And President Merrill J. Bateman, Winter 1996.

In order that those who have asked might see the full correspondence between William E. Evenson and President Merrill J. Bateman relating to academic freedom at BYU and the BYU policy of annual monitoring of employees for temple worthiness as a condition of employment, four documents follow. These are

  1. William E. Evenson, Guest Opinion, The Daily Herald, Provo, UT, February 14, 1996.
  2. William E. Evenson to President Merrill J. Bateman, memo of thanks (March 8, 1996) and detailed summary of their meeting held March 5, 1996.
  3. President Merrill J. Bateman to William E. Evenson, letter of April 1, 1996.
  4. William E. Evenson to President Merrill J. Bateman, memo of response to April 1 letter, April 23, 1996.

The Daily Herald, Provo, Utah, February 14, 1996: Guest Opinion

New BYU policy undermines trust

By William E. Evenson

I believe the recent decision to send an annual list of BYU employees to their stake presidents and bishops in order to verify their current eligibility for a temple recommend is a most ill-advised policy.

I do agree that it is important that BYU employees be faithful, committed members of the LDS church or supportive persons of other faiths, yet I am still troubled and offended by this latest policy.

For me, the most troublesome aspect of this approach to maintaining a faithful faculty and staff at BYU is the extent to which it intrudes into one's personal religious life. My faith is personal and largely private. I share it with my family and with church leaders and occasionally with very close friends. I share it as I choose and as I feel moved to do.

Something essential is taken away from this personal faith when my relationship with my religious leaders becomes a matter of maintaining my employment. This intrusion of employment concerns into that relationship seems controlling and inappropriate. As such, it is manipulative, counter-productive, and outside the Gospel. Driving persons to outward obedience severely compromises the development of genuine inner spirituality.

Second, a regular and formal request made to ecclesiastical leaders, through ecclesiastical channels, to review the conduct of all BYU employees is threatening and conveys a serious lack of trust, no matter what verbal assurances are given.

And what is gained in exchange for the lost trust? Nothing. Local Church leaders have already been asked to alert BYU officials, through proper channels, if serious problems exist. Why, then, impose a new procedure that destroys the sense of trust LDS church leaders and BYU officials should convey to the thousands of faithful BYU employees -- a procedure justified on an unproven premise that a tiny fraction may not be faithful?

Nearly all of our LDS BYU employees are faithful and loyal, and those who are not LDS are almost uniformly willing to live according to LDS Church principles. Policies should be constructed to provide encouragement and opportunity, not to put all the faithful employees through a sieve designed only for an uncommitted few. Henry Stimson said, "The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him." There are better ways than this policy to solve any problem that may exist.

I believe it is wrong to set up a system of monitoring. Many crucial expectations are not monitored, with no serious harm to the university or the church. For example, who is sent a list of employees in order to certify avoidance of sexual harassment or gross abuse of trust in a faculty-student relationship, both of which are grounds for dismissal? Whenever problems in these or numerous other areas come to the attention of university officials, they are dealt with; everyone expects that. But monitoring undermines trust, encourages dishonesty and finally doesn't make anything better anyway. People resent such policies and resist them and subvert them.

I am convinced that most bishops and stake presidents are and will be supportive and even protective of their members who are BYU employees. Nonetheless, when the university effectively puts employment decisions in the hands of these church leaders via the determination of "eligibility" for a temple recommend, university employees are ultimately subject to a very wide range of judgments about attitudes and personal views. And consistency in these judgments will be unattainable.

"Eligibility" for a temple recommend goes well beyond what has actually been a condition of employment at BYU previously: "Conduct" consistent with temple privileges. It is appropriate to hold employees accountable for their conduct, but their private views are much more personal and less relevant for university employment, while being much more subject to arbitrary judgment and interpretation that can vary from one LDS leader to another.

This move from "conduct" to "eligibility" is significant to many of us, and we are offended that it was undertaken without discussion in the campus community. And even if one were to grant, which I do not, that the change in policy is small, that would not make the policy right.

When the academic freedom policy was discussed at BYU prior to its adoption in 1993, university administrators were explicitly asked whether stake presidents would be given a list of BYU employees in their stakes in order to monitor their behavior.

Assurances were repeatedly given, some of them to me personally and one in a public meeting in the de Jong Concert Hall, that university officials would never ask ecclesiastical leaders to report on their ward and stake members (although LDS leaders were free to initiate such contact when they deemed it necessary) and that strict boundaries would be upheld between spiritual matters and university business. Unfortunately, the present policy goes against those promises.

Finally, I must address a question I have been asked as I have spoken out against this policy: Why don't those who are unhappy with the policy simply leave BYU? This would diminish BYU immeasurably.

I and many of my colleagues who are disturbed by this policy have given many years of our careers to help BYU become a first- class university of faith, something very difficult to accomplish but surely worth aspiring to.

We have too much invested to simply want to turn our backs on BYU because university officials have not seen clearly the futility and impropriety of what is, no doubt, a well-intentioned policy.

I hope we can join together to make a better policy and a better university.

(William E. Evenson is a professor of physics at Brigham Young University. He is a former associate academic vice president, former Dean of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and former Dean of General Education.)

William E. Evenson

President Merrill J. Bateman

March 8, 1996 211 KMB8-6078 D-346 ASB Re: Thanks for the discussion

Thank you for inviting me to your office on Tuesday to discuss the concerns I have expressed about the policy of having an annual check-off of temple-worthy conduct for BYU employees. I appreciated the discussion, especially your candor and openness. I also appreciated your affirmation of the legitimacy of my public expressions of concern about a public policy of the University.

Because I feel strongly about the issues we discussed, I made fairly detailed notes of our discussion for my own reference shortly after our meeting. I enclose a copy of those notes for your information. I do not intend to make them available to others beyond family and one or two close confidants. If you see anything in these notes of our meeting that you think does not faithfully reflect our exchange or even the intent of something one or the other of us may have said, I would be grateful for a clarification.

There are three large related issues that I would like to explore further in separate memos to you and your colleagues in the university administration, if that would not be imposing too much. These issues are

  1. what I think will be required to build a great university that properly serves the students, both in their intellectual development and in providing academic credibility for their degrees, and maintains an appropriately close and supportive relationship with the Church,
  2. how I see accountability and renewal of commitment operating in the university setting, and
  3. how the present retirement program is limiting the voluntary departure of some employees who do not belong at BYU.
Thank you again for meeting with me and for your commitment to lift the University.

March 5, 1996 Recollections of Meeting with BYU President Merrill J. Bateman Meeting held March 5, 1996 by William E. Evenson

Present: President Bateman and William E. Evenson

This meeting was held at the invitation of President Bateman in response to my public comments about the policy to have local Church leaders report annually on BYU employees' adherence to LDS standards.

President Bateman was very cordial and congenial throughout the meeting. At the outset of the meeting, he took time to get acquainted, asking me about my background and experience at BYU. He said that he had been reading about me quite a lot and felt it would be useful to get acquainted face to face.

President Bateman made clear that his purpose in the meeting was to reassure me that the policy will be implemented fairly and cautiously. He said that Jim Gordon, Associate Academic Vice President - Faculty Personnel, will be the University's represen tative in these matters and deal directly with BYU faculty who are not listed as worthy by their bishops. [Who handles non- faculty employees? Are there two contact points at the Univer sity?]

President Bateman also tried to assure me that he understands my concerns but is convinced that the abuses I fear will not be realized because of the care they are taking in implementation. He assured me that the standard remains a conduct standard, not a belief standard, and that he understands the difficulties that would be associated with judging shades of belief. I thanked him for the clarification that appeared in the Y News.

I asked why he thinks they need to do this at all, i.e. what problem do they think they are solving with this procedure. He responded that the previous policy, whereby Church leaders were asked to take the initiative to alert the University when they were aware of a problem, was implemented unevenly and hence unfairly. The present approach is more likely to treat everyone the same.

I noted that I am not in favor of any policy that has bishops or stake presidents report on their members' eligibility for employ ment. I pointed out that before such a policy was in existence I participated as a university administrator in resolving problems with faculty members who were not living in accordance with Church standards. We were made aware of several cases, and we worked with them directly. Such cases are difficult and time- consuming and demand a great deal of energy to handle correctly. They must each be handled in a way that protects both the faculty member and the University. I offered the opinion that such cases were handled more effectively during the Holland administration without a monitoring policy than during the most recent univer sity administration, where I have sensed that they hoped the problems would be solved by rules rather than by dealing directly with them.

I said that I find it hard to imagine that University leaders would remain unaware for long of faculty members who are actively undermining faith. So why make a rule that imposes on all employees in order to solve a very few real problems? This creates a feeling of lack of trust as well as interfering with the private relationships between employees and their Church leaders.

President Bateman acknowledged that we had handled some difficult problems during the Holland administration without the current policy, and perhaps more effectively than the current policy would allow. However, he pointed out that there are some cases that have persisted. He agreed that university administrators do become aware of problems, but this policy gives them a better tool to handle the problems. I agreed that we were not able to handle all the problems effectively that came up during the Holland administration, but that is always true: these problems are difficult and time-consuming; one has no choice but to prioritize and work on the most serious ones. President Bateman agreed with that and said, "We will have to do that, too."

I pointed out that these problems will always be with us. People come to the University idealistic and committed, but some will change their views over the years. Others create problems in their lives that make it no longer appropriate for them to stay here. So care in hiring alone will never prevent personnel problems related to these conduct standards. But the rules will not uncover or resolve such problems by themselves. University administrators will always have to work through long and diffi cult personnel issues. President Bateman agreed that we will always have problems of this type to work through; the policy will not make them go away, but he hopes the policy will help University administrators identify and deal with the problems.

President Bateman also agreed that there is a problem at the University with trust: employees do not feel trusted. He said he intends to work on establishing a level of trust, acknowledg ing that it will take a long time to develop the level of trust that should be here.

As I outlined my experience with personnel problems at the University and the more open approach that experience has led me to favor, I noted that I had made many of the points of my newspaper piece privately to University administrators three years ago, when I was dean of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. I received only an acknowledgement and thanks for those comments at that time, never a substantive reply. Now the issue has become a public one, with the promulgation of the recent policy. President Bateman immediately said that he had no problem with my expressing my concerns publicly; I have every right to say what I think about a public policy of the University.

President Bateman also said that yesterday in Deans' Council a couple of the deans reported that they had already been visited by employees who are not in compliance with the expectation of worthy conduct. These employees came to say that they were not in compliance, they had not been in compliance for years, they would not be in compliance, and what was the University going to do about it? President Bateman offered this as evidence that the new policy is already working, bringing people with problems out into the open. I pointed out that the University has always been able to deal with open defiance of the standards. [And what is the likelihood that these cases were previously unknown to the deans?]

I argued that, while it is appropriate to expect employees to be faithful, this policy of looking over everyone's shoulder biases people toward safe work, even in cases where the work does not have direct or obvious religious implications. Any path-breaking work leads people to see the world anew. This is threatening in itself to many people. A bias toward safe work necessarily interferes with our progress as a university, limiting our ability to challenge students to their fullest potential and to stimulate their greatest intellectual development, as well as restricting our contributions to the expansion of knowledge.

President Bateman did not agree that the policy could have a negative effect on the work of faculty members where that work is clearly separate from Church issues. He shares my assessment of the importance of pioneering work at BYU and of the necessity for reaching beyond "safe" work in the disciplines. He is confident that we will be able to do such work here. He expressed grati tude for the opportunity he has had to study at a university where the faculty were intellectually alive and to see a profes sor have insights in the classroom that changed the course they were teaching and led to important contributions in the disci pline. He expressed confidence that we can provide those experi ences for our students at BYU.

I then suggested that the University must always be supportive of the Church, but it must also be separate from the Church. There are many things that must take place in the classrooms, lecture halls, and theaters of the University for the benefit of the students' intellectual development that would not be appropriate in a Church setting. Yet some of these activities now stimulate complaints from the surrounding Church community because they do not understand these differences. I believe the line between University and Church has blurred too much and that this blurring now interferes with carrying out the mission of the University. I agree that the Church needs to define and defend its central doctrines, and the University needs to respect and assist that support of doctrine. But those central doctrines should consti tute a restricted set of issues, and it should be clearer than it is now that beyond those limits great freedom of thought and expression are appropriate.

President Bateman reaffirmed that BYU should be viewed as an arm of the Church. He does not share my view of the importance of maintaining a distinction between these institutions, even though he agrees that their missions differ. Rather, he thinks it is more important to emphasize their relatedness, even at the risk of blurring the distinctions, than to dwell on the separate mission of the University.

The meeting ended on just as cordial a note as it began.

[Brigham Young University President's letterhead] April 1, 1996

Professor William E. Evenson 211 KMB CAMPUS

Dear Bill:

I appreciated the opportunity of meeting with you a short time ago and read with interest the letter you sent to me after ward. There is one statement in your letter which is not accu rate. You thanked me for approving your statements to the press regarding the temple eligibility policy. If I remember cor rectly, my statement was that "you did not offend me personally by writing to the press."

You should understand, however, that your actions are not consistent with the spirit of this university. In that regard, the first point to be made is that the policy you are criticizing is not a policy initiated by the University but one initiated by the Board of Trustees for the entire Church Educational System. Since the Board of Trustees consists of the First Presidency and other general authorities, the temple eligibility policy and the review procedures have come from them.

For your benefit, I am enclosing an excerpt from a statement made by President George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency on this matter. I think you will find it of great interest. I hope you understand that although your actions did not offend me personally, they were not actions of which I approve.

Again, I hope that you will understand my sincere desire to help you and that all of our desires are to make BYU a better university.


(signed Merrill)

Merrill J. Bateman

MJB:jne, enclosure


Photocopies of title page and pages 276-7 and 272-3 from Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, First Counselor to Presidents John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow, Volume 2, 1974. (Selected, arranged, and edited by Jerreld L. Newquist, published by Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah)

The three photocopied pages included in the top margin facsimile traces from "LDS HISTORICAL DEPT." on Friday, March 29, 1996, 11:34 am and from "CHURCH ADMIN BLDG 3RD FL" on Friday, March 29, 1996, 12:09 pm.

Highlighted in yellow along the left margin was the following paragraph from pp. 276-7 (ellipses in original):

OPPOSITION TO AUTHORITIES CAUSES APOSTASY. A friend . . . wished to know whether we . . . considered an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the Authorities of the Church was apostasy. . . . We replied that we had not stated that an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the Authorities constituted apostasy, for we could conceive of a man honestly differing in opinion from the Authorities of the Church and yet not be an apos tate; but we could not conceive of a man publishing these differences of opinion and seeking by arguments, sophistry and special pleading to enforce them upon the people to produce division and strife and to place the acts and counsels of the Authorities of the Church, if possible, in a wrong light, and not be an apostate, for such conduct was apostasy as we understood the term.

We further said that while a man might honestly differ in opinion from the Authorities through a want of understanding, he had to be exceedingly careful how he acted in relation to such differences, or the adver sary would take advantage of him, and he would soon become imbued with the spirit of apostasy and be found fighting against God and the authority which He had placed here to govern His Church. (DEN, November 3, 1869)

Pp. 272-3 contained the following marked passage (ellipses in original):

A SYMPTOM OF APOSTASY. It is not for everyone to judge and condemn God's servants. It is against such a feeling that the warning is given, "Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm." [1 Chronicles 16:22.]

We have been taught from the beginning that one of the most dangerous symptoms of apostasy from the Church is speaking evil of the Lord's servants; whenever a spirit of this kind takes possession of one who is called a Latter-day Saint, it is sure to grieve the Spirit of God; it invites darkness to enter the mind, and, unless it is sincerely repented of, it causes apostasy to follow. For this reason, if for no other, our children should be taught from the time they are old enough to comprehend that they are treading upon slippery ground whenever they venture to criticise, censure or condemn those whom the Lord has chosen to be His servants.

Many think it is part of their privilege in the exercise of free speech to do this and this it is a sign of independence. But there is none of the true liberty of free speech in it; it becomes license and is offensive to the Lord. . . . Respect for authority should be constantly taught. . . . The Saints honor God; they honor the authority which He bestows; and in honoring that authority they honor those who bear it. This is the spirit of true independence, and it does not take away the least particle from the true dignity of manhood and womanhood. The Lord says: ". . . them that honour me I will honour, and they hat despise me shall be lightly esteemed." [1 Samuel 2:30.] (November 1, 1894, JI 29:668)

William E. Evenson

President Merrill J. Bateman

April 23, 1996 211 KMB8-6078 D-346 ASB
Re: Public discussion of university policies

I have pondered long over your letter of earlier this month which included statements from President George Q. Cannon.

I have no desire to be out of harmony with the Church. Indeed, I have tried to comport myself both privately and in public accord ing to the principles of the gospel, including the following counsel which the First Presidency gave in an official message to the Church in 1910:

Free will, free thought, free speech, free action to the line of the liberty of others form an essential part of our faith and practise.

It is hard for me to understand that actions which I believe to be in harmony with this instruction from the First Presidency could be "not consistent with the spirit of this university."

I hope there is a fundamental misunderstanding at the basis of your letter to me. The excerpts from President George Q. Cannon on pp. 272-3, given while he was in the First Presidency, refer to judging or condemning "God's servants." I have expressed strong disagreement with a university policy, but I have not intended to show, nor do I believe I have shown, disrespect or judgment or condemnation of the General Authorities who guide this university. I have tried to be very careful to keep the discussion on the level of policy. I understand from the First Presidency statement quoted above that this level of discussion is not only to be permitted, but is "an essential part of our faith and practise."

The other excerpt from President Cannon, on pp. 276-7, that was highlighted in the copy you sent me, is much more clearly rele vant to my recent actions. Unfortunately, it is difficult to see how this statement, given while Elder Cannon was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, squares with the First Presidency instruc tion quoted above. And it is also difficult for me to see how this statement can be reconciled with the following, later statement by President Cannon when he was first counselor in the First Presidency:

There must be the greatest possible liberty of thought, of expression and of action in our midst -- that is the greatest possible consistent with good order, and the preservation of the rights of others. Liberty cannot be permitted to degenerate into license, but the utmost liberty can be enjoyed so long as it does not overstep that boundary. It becomes, therefore, a natural duty devolving upon us, with our views concerning these eternal principles that have come down from God, that were taught by God in the early ages unto man, that have been re-enforced from time to time by Him through the silent, unseen agency of His power in various ages -- I say it becomes our natural duty to see that these principles are carried out and maintained in the earth. We become their natural champions. Besides advocating and maintaining them, it becomes our province to strug gle for their supremacy. (JD 24:58-9, March 18, 1883)

In my study of Church teachings regarding the propriety of free expression about matters of policy, I find many additional statements endorsing free expression, like those quoted above. For example, President Joseph F. Smith as President of the Church, testifying under oath to the U. S. Senate in 1904:

The members of the Mormon Church are among the freest and most independent people of all the Christian denom inations. They are not all united on every principle. Every man is entitled to his own opinion and his own views and his own conceptions of right and wrong so long as they do not come in conflict with the standard principles of the church. (Smoot hearings, p. 98)

President Hugh B. Brown as first counselor in the First Presi dency made another such statement at BYU in 1969:

Preserve, then, the freedom of your mind in education and in religion, and be unafraid to express your thoughts and to insist upon your right to examine every proposition. We are not so much concerned with whether your thoughts are orthodox or heterodox as we are that you shall have thoughts.

I repeat that I do not desire to be out of harmony with the Church. I have labored under the conviction that my actions have been in the spirit of the teachings of the First Presidency, as reflected in the sampling given above. Thank you for your clarification of our conversation. I see BYU as an institution that is necessarily separate from and fully supportive of the Church. I will continue to try to help Brigham Young University become the best it can be.

9. Issues of Academic Freedom at BYU

The following document was prepared by members of the BYU AAUP for submission to the Northwest Accreditation Association during the spring of 1996. This document was designed to represent the point of view of the BYU AAUP regarding issues of academic freedom at BYU during the past few years. We wanted to have the accreditors hear an alternative point of view during their period of examination of BYU for reaccreditation.

5 March 1996

BYU Chapter Of The American Association Of University Professors

Report On Issues Of Academic Freedom At BYU

While the details are numerous and complicated, our argument is simple. BYU has, in recent years, not adhered to the following principles stated in the Accreditation Handbook (1994 Edition) of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges:
  1. p. 7, item 3: "An institution owned by or related to an outside agency, such as a church . . . should ensure that it maintains an atmosphere in which intellectual freedom and independence exist."
  2. p. 8, item 13 and p. 133, item 2: which require that "reasonable limitations on freedom of inquiry or expression which are dictated by institutional purpose" be "published candidly."
  3. p. 67, top: "Faculty security should also be implemented through faculty tenure provisions and safeguards for academic freedom."
  4. p. 126, Institutional Integrity: "A college or university is an institution of higher learning. Those within it have as a first concern evidence and truth rather than particular judgments of institutional benefactors, concerns of churchmen, public opinion, social pressure, or political proscription.

"Relating to this general concern corresponding to intellectual and academic freedom are correlative responsibilities. On the part of trustees and administrators there is the obligation to protect faculty and students from inappropriate pressures or destructive harassments."

The following brief examples indicate that for approximately the last six years BYU has become increasingly less open to differences of opinion and more inclined to control faculty and student expression and behavior.

Over the course of five years these progressive changes have appeared, with no previous discussion, in faculty contracts:

    -- 1992 contracts, for the first time, included language to the effect that "Faculty who are members of BYU's sponsoring Church also accept the spiritual and temporal expectations of wholehearted Church membership."

    -- 1993 contracts changed this phrase to the more specific "LDS faculty also accept as a condition of employment the standards of conduct consistent with qualifying for temple privileges."

    -- And in 1996 it was announced that employees' ecclesiastical leaders would be required to report yearly on whether employees were in fact "temple worthy."

MacArthur Fellow, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Harvard Professor of History, and Mormon Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, with no explanation and no chance for discussion, was declared unfit to give the keynote address at the 1993 BYU Women's Conference and has not been allowed to speak on campus since. Other speakers have been similarly disqualified without comment or discussion.

Candidates for faculty positions (all of whom must be approved by the administration before being invited to campus) are routinely turned down without explanation and with no chance for departments to argue their cases. This has been especially egregious recently in the English Department.

The administration has repeatedly responded to allegations made in anonymous letters about faculty members by alerting deans and department chairs and requiring faculty to respond to the charges, although there is no chance to face the accuser and no due process. Accusations that have caused faculty trouble (from contracts not being renewed to general intimidation to time lost answering the charges) include complaints about books being used in courses, plays performed, art exhibited, references to evolution, mention of population issues, politicizing the classroom (feminism, postmodernism, and environmentalism are three of the favorites), and a range of theological issues.

We have chosen to document extensively three of the most troubling cases in which young faculty members have been forced to leave BYU, cases that received much press coverage, that evoked protests on campus, and in the aftermath of which other faculty left the university as well (most prominently Hal Miller, then Dean of Honors and General Education, Tomi-Ann Roberts, assistant professor of Psychology, William Davis, assistant professor of German, Martha Bradley, assistant professor of History, and Martha Nibley Beck, assistant professor of Sociology).

In two of the cases (David Knowlton, Cecilia Konchar-Farr) University administrators acted improperly to terminate the employment of the faculty member. Rather than forthrightly stating that BYU faculty may not take a personal pro-choice position in abortion debates (Konchar-Farr) or that discussion of the Church missionary system in the independent Mormon forum of Sunstone is unacceptable (Knowlton), the administration argued that because of inadequate scholarship the two professors should not be advanced to candidacy for tenure. The following documents, including the reports of an ad-hoc academic freedom committee, letters by department chairs and others about the review process and specific cases, and the professors' own statements, substantiate the claim that contrary to official statements, the two professors were at least as academically productive as others who passed the same review, and that the standard third-year review process was suddenly and drastically changed for specific political ends.

The third case (Brian Evenson) did not play itself out because Evenson left the university to take another job, but it too was a case in which the administration moved to undermine a fair review process.

Although the administration worked to make it appear that standard procedures of faculty governance were followed in each case, there are indications (Rex Lee's statements after the appeals, English-Department-Chair Jay Fox's memo) that decisions were made at the behest of a member or members of the BYU Board of Trustees (in Evenson's case as the result of an anonymous letter denouncing him to the Board), but in no case was the faculty member given a chance to speak with members of the Board, and there was no evidence that the administration, rather than simply carrying out orders, argued the respective faculty member's case with the Board of Trustees or seriously took into account the points made during the appeals process. The outcomes were foregone conclusions

In saying this about members of the administration and our Board of Trustees, in presenting this documentation at all, we run the risk of being dismissed from the university (without appeal to anyone other than the prosecutors of the case -- see below) on the charge that our behavior or expression seriously and adversely affects the University mission or the Church. Examples would include expression with students or in public that: 1. Contradicts or opposes, rather than analyzes or discusses, fundamental Church doctrine or policy; 2. Deliberately attacks or derides the Church or its general leaders. . . . The ultimate responsibility to determine harm to the University mission or the church, however, remains vested in the University's governing bodies -- including the University president and central administration and, finally, the board of Trustees. (Statement on Academic Freedom at Brigham Young University)

The three cases we document here are examples of actions by our administration that have contributed to a climate of distrust and fear on campus. It is virtually impossible to criticize decisions of those who run the University without being branded "advocates of the adversary" (Pres. Bateman, Daily Universe Interview) and thus being defined as those whose actions seriously and adversely affect the University's mission.

We see our role in quite different terms, as the kind of open and productive criticism and argumentation that foster good thinking and moral decision making. We founded the BYU Chapter of the AAUP last year hoping to contribute constructively to a University to which we are devoted and to which we have given our best efforts over many years. We present the following information in that spirit.

Members of the BYU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors




 Etusivu > Artikkelit | Sivun alkuun


 2000-11-12 — 2003-09-19