There’s been a flurry of news around Brigham Young University lately — thrusting the Provo school into the national spotlight.
Recent events have ranged from accusations of racism at a volleyball match to questions about waiving clergy confidentially to an off-campus drag show attended by LGBTQ students.
Here’s a rundown of seven recent stories that have drawn attention to the university, operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
BYU has an “ecclesiastical employment form” for new hires — including faculty and staff — that reiterates the expectation that all employees will have a current temple recommend (a card attesting to their adherence to certain principles and practices, including the payment of tithing and following the faith’s Word of Wisdom health code) and “be worthy of one.”
That isn’t new. But now wording has been added to the agreement candidates must sign, authorizing the Ecclesiastical Clearance Office at church headquarters to “contact” their lay leaders to determine their “worthiness” for employment at BYU. Candidates must agree that their bishops can disclose “matters that priesthood leaders would otherwise keep confidential … to the extent the confidential matters relate to the standards of employment.”
Brigham Young University had agreed to give LGBTQ resource pamphlets to incoming freshmen when they started school in August — but then pulled them out of welcome bags and trashed them.
The groups who made the pamphlets were alerted to them being discarded after they had already paid $200 to the school to include them, and another $1,800 to print them. Those amounts were later refunded.
At the start of every school year, the RaYnbow Collective, a nonprofit that supports the BYU queer community, holds an annual gathering at a Provo park. The event is meant to bring LGBTQ students at the university together.
This year, they went bigger than ever before, planning what they billed as a family-friendly drag show — which included current and former BYU students as performers.
About 300 folks attended that and another 100 showed up to protest, calling the drag supporters “groomers” and “pedophiles.” A group of people dressed as angels, wearing wide wings, stood in front of the protesters to protect the BYU students there to celebrate.
A Duke sophomore said she was called the N-word while serving at a volleyball match on BYU’s campus on Aug. 26. Her godmother first shared the story on social media. And the player, Rachel Richardson, has since talked about what she said she heard and BYU’s response to it.
The school originally banned a fan identified by Duke as having approached a player after the match, making her uncomfortable, and also for yelling the slurs. A police report, though, said he wasn’t actually the one saying the N-word, based on surveillance footage.
Two weeks later, BYU said after its investigation, it found no evidence to support the accusations of racial slurs. And it has reinstated the fan.
But students of color at the Provo school say the case is not a litmus test for racism. They talked about their own experiences on campus being called the N-word.
A former producer and sports personality said sexual harassment drove her to leave her position at the BYU-owned television station.
Kiki Solano shared her experience on social media.
In light of Solano’s post, BYU has offered to have her meet with its Title IX office and potentially “file a formal complaint, pursue any grievance procedures or access supportive measures.” The statement said that opportunity is standard practice for the university whenever it is “made aware of allegations not previously reported.”
After winning against South Florida, BYU’s football team moved up four spots in national rankings to No. 21.
The school moved up again after beating Baylor University. BYU is now No. 12 in the country.
BYU was listed among dozens of colleges nationwide as unsafe and discriminatory campuses for LGBTQ students by Campus Pride, a national organization advocating for inclusive colleges and universities.