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BYU makes changes to demonstration guidelines

By Ashtyn Asay - | Jan 12, 2022

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Y Mountain is shown through trees on BYU's main campus in Provo on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022.

Almost a year after Provo’s Y Mountain was lit up in a rainbow, Brigham Young University has banned protests on university-owned parts of the mountain.

BYU approved an updated version of their university Demonstration Policy, previously called the Public Expression Policy, on Dec. 20. The updated version of the policy states that protests inside university buildings, near minors or other vulnerable populations, or places that are deemed a safety risk, like Y Mountain, are prohibited.

“As stated in the policy, BYU recognizes that a ‘university education includes intellectually enlarging experiences that promote civility in the exchange of ideas and that encourage civic engagement,'” reads a press release distributed by BYU. “The updated policy provides details on what constitutes a demonstration, the application process for demonstrations, and the time, place and manner standards for on-campus demonstrations.”

Carolyn Gassert is president of Understanding Sexuality, Gender and Allyship, an unofficial group of BYU students and faculty who work to provide a safe space for open conversation on LGBTQ topics. She believes the change in policy was only made because of recent protests for LGBTQ equality.

“It was only done because it was queer protesting,” Gassert said. “It just feels really malicious to me.”

Gassert added that she feels there is no freedom of speech at BYU.

“You can’t openly leave the church at BYU, you can’t criticize church leaders who are men who make mistakes. … It’s’ seen as an attack against the church.” Gassert said. “Free speech is not a thing at BYU, not if you’re a marginalized person.”

Bradley Talbot called the new rules are disappointing and frustrating. Talbot is the founder of Color the Campus, the organization that colored the Y in 2021 as part of their Rainbow Day celebration,

“It’s a little discouraging that they’re trying to find every reason they can to just shut us down, kind of hypocritical in my opinion,” he said. “They’re trying to just control what students are allowed to do and I think that infringes on their freedom of speech.”

Talbot graduated from BYU, but he is confident Color the Campus will continue to peacefully demonstrate in support of LGBTQ students in the Church Education System.

“I don’t see any reason as to why we would stop holding these Rainbow Days in the future because it is a very simple act of love and support, outside of even just the BYU community,” Talbot said.

Other updates to the policy include:

  • Only current students or employees are allowed to participate in on-campus demonstrations.
  • Conduct that is deemed violent or harassing, a threat to individual or public health, or that defaces or damages BYU property or personal property is prohibited.
  • Demonstrations must be in alignment with the university’s intellectual environment and faith-based mission.

In order for current students or employees to protest on campus, they have to first submit an application to demonstrate to the Dean of Students Office at least five business days before the proposed demonstration.

“The dean of students, the managing director of BYU Police and BYU Security, the vice president of belonging, and the academic vice president, or their designees, will consider the content, time, place, and manner of the proposed Demonstration and, in their sole discretion, approve, conditionally approve, or deny an Application,” reads BYU’s Demonstration Policy. “Demonstrations that do not have an approved Application on file with the Dean of Students Office are prohibited, and demonstrators will be asked to move to public areas off University Property.”

A faculty sponsor was also previously required on an application to demonstrate, however, the updated rules no longer require this.

To read the full Demonstration Policy, visit http://policy.byu.edu/view/demonstration-policy.

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