Did Iowa State’s student government religiously discriminate against BYU?

By Julian Neely

The Iowa State Student Government passed a bill that voiced their opinion on BYU joining the BIG XII. Some students have spoke out about how student government may have discriminated against BYU based on religion.

BIG XII Conference is expanding their conference and have a list of schools that are on the list of consideration. BYU is one of the universities that are still on the list of joining the BIG XII. There are debates on whether the conference will only take in an additional two universities or more. According to ESPN.com, the conference is expected to have made a decision by October 17th.

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Senate and student leaders meeting about ISUnity Day. Photo by Julian Neely

When ISU student government decided to voice their opinions on the expansion, it caused some people to reflect on the student government mission. In which, states “Student Government is the student organization which represents all students at Iowa State University.”

It is surprising to some that when they read the portion that states student government “represent all students at Iowa State” it would include religion. But, religion tends to be left out of the discussion when discussing diversity and inclusion. Diversity is a term that is used vaguely and truly not understood.

According to Merriam-Webster, diversity means “the condition of having or being composed of differing elements, especially the inclusion of different types of people in a group or organization.”

“Diversity is an aspect of life that allows us to gain a better understanding of the world around us. It is best utilized and achieved when individuals and organizations unite to discuss and demonstrate ideas, opinions, and culture,” says Student Government Vice President Cody West

In a discussion with some student government senators, defined diversity by only mentioning race and ethnicities. This is a consistent case for many discussions related to diversity. From that discussion, some may take discrimination on religion is not a focus for some senators. With multiple religious’ clubs and organizations on campus, to some it should be involved with diversity and inclusion.

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Matthew Fully speaking at a Student Government meeting. Photo by Julian Neely

“To some people I am sure the actions taken by the Senate can be viewed as discriminatory,” says West.

The actions to some students were discriminatory and hurt some students. Many people argue that the religion that BYU follows is exclusive itself and would not fit the standards of the BIG XII and the universities under it. People that are against BYU joining the BIG XII are due to reports of how they handle certain situations that include LGBTQ community and sexual assault.

According to Salt Lake Tribune in August, BYU’s Honor Code forbids homosexual behavior, which the school defines as “not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.” The tribune even speaks on cases that involve BYU punishing and making sexual assault victims take responsibility for the incident.

There are many things that goes into the decision of adding BYU to the BIG XII. But, ISU student government voicing their opinions without consulting their students brought tension and resulted with some students feeling voiceless.

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