The Government of the Student Body Meeting

Senator Danielle Nygard argues why she believes a bill should not be passed that would limit who could run for a seat in the Senate at the Government of the Student Body meeting on Wednesday, April 15.

Student Government passed a resolution Wednesday night in opposition to Brigham Young University (BYU) possibly joining the Big 12 Conference.

Sen. Abhijit Patwa introduced the resolution regarding BYU, arguing that Student Government should not support BYU’s membership bid to the Big 12 Conference at this time.

The reason behind the resolution is that Patwa, and later Student Government, has determined that “BYU’s discriminatory policies and practices are inconsistent with the values of the Big 12.”

BYU has fallen under fire recently in regard to its Honor Code, which according to the resolution, the Honor Code “explicitly prohibits its students, staff and faculty from 'not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.'”

BYU, located in Provo, Utah, and owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints (LDS), has been near the top of the list of potential Big 12 expansion candidates.

Patwa introduced the resolution to the Senate by citing an anecdote to Jack Trice, the first African-American athlete at Iowa State College. Trice died following a football game against the University of Minnesota in 1923, after sustaining injuries during the game.

“[It is] widely accepted that the attack on Jack Trice was racially motivated,” Patwa said, further referencing that by passing this resolution that it’s time Student Government “take a stance to what we believe in.”

Vice Speaker Conner Tillo furthered the debate, arguing that it’s their [Student Government’s] responsibility to advocate for their fellow Big 12 Universities.

Student Government President Cole Staudt offered comments on the resolution, arguing against Patwa that he feels the Senate should not pass the BYU resolution.

stu gov meeting-16.jpg

Student Government President Cole Staudt speaks during the first Student Government meeting of the semester Aug. 24. 

“I have been speaking with other presidents of Big 12 institutions," Staudt said. "A number of them said that they don’t believe we should be taking a position at all."

Staudt also said that while he does not agree with BYU’s honor code at all, he is in a struggle, stating that it might be somewhat hypocritical of Student Government to say that it can’t be a part of the Big 12 community.

“You can’t change people by making them sit in the corner,” Staudt said.

Sen. Zoey Shipley also countered the resolution and backed Staudt’s argument, saying that the conduct of BYU is based on its beliefs, and when students go to that school, they go there because of their beliefs.

“It takes one student to say, ‘Wow, you don’t agree with them, you don’t agree with me,’” Shipley said.

BYU resolution

The first page of the BYU resolution.

Sen. Cody Woodruff, who was in support of passing the resolution, said he talked to a friend who has a relationship to BYU and said that students want this reform at their university. Many senators were hesitant in passing the resolution, however, because they felt it wasn’t their position or to make a statement at this time.

Patwa later countered, saying, “I am a heterosexual male. I am not an athlete. This in no way affects me, but this problem is bigger than us.”

Other senators felt that in passing the resolution, it gets in the way of free speech and the First Amendment.

“I’m against this resolution ...,” said Sen. Eric Schultz. “[I] believe it’s a free speech issue, BYU has right to believe in what they want, and if you don’t like it, don’t go to their school.”

One of the last arguments debated stemmed from whether the issue was timely, as the decision to whether BYU could enter the conference wouldn’t be decided until later in the semester.

“There are many schools still in the running,” said Speaker Danielle Nygard. “Maybe this resolution is not the right time and place.”

stu gov meeting-16.jpg

Student Government President Cole Staudt speaks during the first Student Government meeting of the semester Aug. 24. 

After nearly an hour of debating over the specifics of the resolution, many senators found themselves heated over the topic.

Leading into a recess, Staudt, who had been objected to speaking a second time during the meeting, began yelling at the Senate regarding the resolution.

"I’m disappointed, I don’t have to be here. It’s [disrespectful] to say that you don’t have the time to listen to us," Staudt said, as about half of the senators left the room for a short break.

“You make change by embracing people,” Staudt said. “...This resolution is not the way you make change. We don’t make change by excluding people.

“You don’t say to a student, to me, that you can’t sit here for five more minutes.”

Following the recess, Sen. Woodruff helped conclude arguments, saying, “BYU is inclusive, but discriminatory.”

21 senators voted for the resolution, while six voted against.

The resolution will be sent to Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Baylor University Interim President David Garland, Iowa State University President Steven Leath, University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, Kansas State University Interim President General Richard Myers, University of Oklahoma President David Boren, Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis, University of Texas at Austin President Dr. Gregory Fenves, Texas Christian University Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr., Texas Tech University President Dr. Lawrence Schovanec, and West Virginia University President Dr. E. Gordon Gee.

Also addressed at the meeting was the passing of a bill that will eliminate the monthly allocation process for funding.

“Students need money now,” said Sen. Steven Valentino, while pushing to have the bill passed.

By cutting the monthly allocation and streamlining it to a different process, it allows Student Government to better filter the funding process for student groups.

According to the act, taking this process away can lower the risk of having to waive a second read due to a club or organization needing money in the immediate future when a request is replaced rather than the end of the month, which is thought to be inconvenient based on the need for the allocation.

The removal of the monthly allocation process was passed in a majority vote by the Senate.

The meeting concluded with closing comments, where Staudt apologized for interrupting the meeting, but said he was not sorry, and would do it again if the circumstances were all there.

He reminded the Senate, however, that no matter what happens in the meetings, they’re all still friends and colleagues.

(26) comments

Greg Wizer

Disappointing to see that religious bigotry is alive and well at Iowa State. A little further research would have shown that there IS a LGBT student group at BYU and visitors who attend any events there are not held to the standards of the Honor Code. There is also a youtube video that has BYU LGBT students sharing their views about BYU. Yes, the same students that attend BYU and live within the Honor Code. It's shameful that a group of students, who have never attended or lived under the Honor Code at BYU, would criticize something they have never experienced and speak for those who don't seem to have a problem.

Talon Jensen

Several decades ago I attended BYU and knew at least five LGBT friends. In a school of 33,000+ students I'm sure there were some who discriminated, but I never saw it and I remember a conversation with two of them on the subject where they loved their time at BYU. I'm pretty sure things are not worse today for LGBT students.

Just for the record sex outside of marriage is forbidden for all students, not just LGBT students.

EJ otero

These kids have jumped into the selfrighteous bandwagon and actually believe they can legislate what is good for the Big 12. Arrogant and pompous. At least do research and learn that there are LGBT students at BYU openly. Low point for Iowa State what these uninformed "senators" did.

Greg Wizer

Forgot to include link to the video i mentioned. Here it is:

Tom Andews

Gross. These kids either have no idea what they're talking about, are religious bigots, or the IQ at ISU is that low.

Talon Jensen

While I may share some of your intent in that I believe many students today promote sharing of Internet untruths without any real research, name calling really never works.

Tom Andews

You're right and my message was wrong. I tried to delete it after posting it but couldn't. I actually get along much better with gays than Mormons I just get hot under the collar when these groups target and attack people.

Tom Andews

Also don't ask me why I have different names. I had troubles signing up to post comments :/

Greg Wizer

Are these Iowa State values of which you speak?

Talon Jensen

Maybe the students can pass a resolution to allow the University of Northern Iowa Panthers to take Iowa State's place in the Big 12 since the Panthers just beat Iowa State at home for their opening game. The Big 12 should be looking to upgrade football and basketball in more ways than one.

James Barrett

It is really discouraging to see the lack of understand displayed by these students regarding the enumerated freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Do they really think the newly "found" rights (by a highly partisan SCOTUS), should trump those specific enumerated rights? One would hope that these students would spend less time vocalizing their lack of education and more time gaining one.

No one is forced to attend BYU. Agreeing to abide by the BYU Honor Code is completely voluntary.

Our Constitution protects not only our religious freedom, but also our right of association. Yet these still wet-behind-the-ears kids would trample all over those freedoms because they allow an individual or institution to not march in lock step to their flavor of the day issue.

This is the same tactic used by many on the left to shout down disagreeing voices. The LGBTQ advocates, in their never ending quest for relevance, will only be satisfied when have completely shut down all who believe in God, morality and accountability. Such nonsense is far more fitting for Nazi Germany than for freedom loving Americans.

I suggest that the ISU student senate should adopt a theme song for themselves. "Send in the Clowns" is probably a good choice.

Brent Hansen

This has the potential to be a great case study of group think. It appears a group of students only spoke to one side and took the information they learned as gospel. I am sure if they would have done their research, and spoke to the other side the outcome would have been different, but that's what you go to school for. That being said I'm disappointed that students at Iowa State didn't do a better job. I am impressed with Cole Staudt, who I am sure has a great future in front of him.

Adam Guenther

I agree with the senate and their resolution. BYU has no place in the Big XII. If their students want to live by their bigoted policies that is their choice, but whether it be academic or athletic association, Iowa State and the BIG XII should have no room for them. I am glad that the students of my alma mater have took a stand against accepting members that run counter to 9 out of 10 schools in the Big XII. Baylor at least is fairly neutral on LGBT issues, and there are plenty other schools that would make better additions to the conference and would improve from membership to be competitive when they join. No to BYU. #StandWithSenate

Paul Poyfair

I got an idea Adam... If BYU gets into the Big 12 why don't you and your buddies pass a resolution that would require Iowa State "QUIT" the Big XII in protest... Then y'all can move on to more pressing matters such as whether or not the U.S Senate should be able to declare war on ISIS without the ISU's legislative support. This is nothing more than a group of Liberal Students trying to get noticed... Albeit a group of students who don't have enough homework.

Stevenson Smith

Let's murder, persecute, and kick Mormons out of the United States while we're at it. We can force them to leave in wagons and handcarts to a place in the middle of the desert where no one else wants to live.

Troy Mohrman

I wonder how many of those who passed this resolution and know so much have actually ever even been to BYU or attended an event? I know a few people who are gay and are working on their degree. It amazes me the ignorance of people who are suppose to be wise and how decisions are made by reading media outlets instead of seeing things for oneself. Nothing like having a mob mentality without being responsible enough to really find out by visiting. People have posted opposing viewpoints but why is it that they are just dismissed? Whatever!

Paul Poyfair

And this is what goes on at our institutions of higher learning... This is ridiculous. Seems like this so called legislative body ought to be more concerned about the affairs of Iowa State University and less concerned about trying to manage the affairs of the Big 12. Perhaps the University needs to revisit the charter of this school's Government... Particularly under the heading of "Jurisdiction".

Joseph Johnsonn

As an alum, I am embarrassed by this. Such typical hypocrites trying to push others around when they actually have no idea what they are talking about

Da Br

Yikes, this is pretty embarrassing for ISU. Not only are the students in this group woefully ignorant about BYU (the quoted statements at least show they have little or no firsthand knowledge of BYU, its students, its culture, etc.), they seem to lack even a rudimentary understanding of many other things, such as the Constitution or the very definition of hypocrisy. Let me guess: they won't tolerate BYU... all in the name of tolerance, right?

For the stake of the university, I hope most of the students involved in this are Freshmen, i.e. those who have not yet had much time to be educated by Iowa State. If many of these kids are upper classmen then... well... that reflects really poorly on ISU: if this level of sheltered ignorance still exists after multiple years of an ISU education, then the school has a problem.

I'm hoping that this student group isn't representative of the larger ISU student body.

Gentry Johnson

I find this ironic that Iowa, a state that was at the epicenter of the forced Mormon expulsion from Illinois and Missouri—an expulsion that was predicated on violence the vilest of mobs in American history—would be the source of such a statement.

Iowa was a state that gave refuge to this early religious refugees, and now today the representatives of their descendants are choosing to target and disenfranchise this same religious group because of that group's religious convictions. Not based on actions or the expression of those convictions, but simply because of a belief.

That is shameful, and not representative of the people of this university, this state, or this country. I would imagine many of these authors are opposed to the same rhetoric that Donald Trump espouses, and yet they are so blind to their self-righteous social justice crusade that they cannot see they are the pots who are calling the kettle black.

Stevenson Smith

There is a significant level of irony when the academic world tries to shun a university associated with the Mormon church—a religion that was historically kicked out of the United States and violently persecuted—because of "tolerance".

Ken Rose

Thank You Cole Staudt,
It is unusual in these times to see someone stand against the onslaught of hatred that is crippling our nation. Thanks for being a ray of hope for many who see our nation's greatness being swept away by intolerance of beliefs different from the norm.

Ali Phelps

Three things. This group of students is not trying to legislate anything. They passed a resolution. They represent the students on their campus. In education it is meaningful for a student body to declare support or lack of support because education is literally about the students. This should mean something to educators.

Everyone who is concerned about discrimination against BYU should also realize that BYU is literally discriminating against LGBTQ people, which is their right as stipulated by our government's interpretation of religious freedom. The Big 12 also has the right to discriminate against BYU if it chooses. If BYU wants the right to discriminate, it is imperative, in order to avoid hypocrisy, to acknowledge that the Big 12 also has that right.

BYU doesn't actually have a USGA. There is a group of students who formed such a club, but BYU refused to recognize them as an official club (even though all the students involved adhere to the honor code and they only exist to help LGBTQ students feel comfortable on campus). Not being an official club means they are not allowed to even meet on BYU's campus, participate in events or ask for funding from the college's various sources. I follow their FB page. Their experiences are not all good. Some are downright awful.

Da Br

I appreciate your thoughtful reply. I can understand that there can be some value in students declaring support or lack of support for something. My objection is that their resolution is ill-conceived and kind of silly - it boils down to "we don't like that some people somewhere else see things different from us, therefore we don't think they should be a part of an organization that includes many different schools". Is it their right to do this? Absolutely! Is it sensical, based on good and complete info, and fair? I honestly don't think so.

For something to be 'discrimination', it must be unjust on some level (otherwise, per the definition of the word, it's not discrimination). BYU establishing an honor code for *behavior* (i.e. not based on beliefs, thoughts, race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, etc.) is absolutely fair and just, especially since the only people bound by it are people that agree to it up front - BYU is not trying to police the world, not trying to force people around the world to do anything. Rather, it is saying, 'when you are here, these are the rules'.

It's no different than me having dear friends who smoke but, while in my house, I don't let them smoke. I'm not condemning them for smoking, I'm not saying they are bad people for smoking, I'm not demanding that they not *be* a smoker, I'm not even demanding that they agree with me that smoking is a bad thing. All I'm doing is saying that, when they are visiting my home, they don't smoke. It is reasonable for me to do this for my home, and as an aside, I'm under no obligation whatsoever to justify my rules (though I freely do). Similarly, it is completely reasonable for BYU to do establish behavioral rules for its campus. As with my home and with BYU, people who get upset by this can choose not to go to those places.

Continuing the analogy, the student's resolution would be similar to a nosy neighbor sending a letter to everyone in my neighborhood, stating that I should not be allowed to live in that neighborhood because I don't allow smoking in my home. Now, since that letter is non-binding, it's certainly within their rights to pull such a stunt, but do you start to see why I might find that unfair and excessive? Clearly such a neighbor is overstepping their bounds. I find it a bit of a stretch to label my house rules discrimination (remember, it has to be unjust to qualify), while what my neighbor is advocating seems rather more extreme.

Finally, the USGAatBYU Facebook page is actually an incredibly positive take on how LGBT students do quite well at BYU. Do a few students occasionally have a bad experience? Yes, but the same is true of any campus with tens of thousands of people - given a large enough group of people, there will always be a handful of ignorant or insensitive people that have to be dealt with and educated.

The LGBT students who do well at BYU are those who honor their commitment to live by the "house rules" while there and who recognize that the school's policies are derived from a religion's doctrine (even if they don't agree with that doctrine). The LGBT students who struggle are those who think that BYU must become an advocate for homosexuality and that, given enough time and pressure, BYU will "come around" to the idea or something.

peter jhon

I know your aptitude on this. I should say we ought to have an online discourse on this. Composing just remarks will close the talk straight away! What's more, will confine the advantages from this data. W. Ron Adams Law

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