6 March 2015 — FreeBYU filed a formal complaint today with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), BYU’s accreditor, for violating five sections of the NWCCU’s accreditation standard on governance.
The NWCCU will review BYU’s compliance with the accreditation standards April 15-17th this year for its Year Seven evaluation. FreeBYU asked the NWCCU to investigate BYU’s violations and elicit a remediation plan to bring BYU into compliance. Among other obligations, governance standards 15, 19, 23, 27, & 28 require that BYU:
- “Policies and procedures regarding students’ rights and responsibilities—including academic honesty, appeals, grievances, and accommodations for persons with disabilities—are clearly stated, readily available, and administered in a fair and consistent manner.”
- “Supports independent thought in the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. It affirms the freedom of faculty, staff, administrators, and students to share their scholarship and reasoned conclusions with others. While the institution and individuals within the institution may hold to a particular personal, social, or religious philosophy, its constituencies are intellectually free to examine thought, reason, and perspectives of truth. Moreover, they allow others the freedom to do the same.”
BYU’s Honor Code policy is to expel, terminate, and evict LDS students who change their faith while at BYU. The complaint, which passed review by several attorneys, documents examples of local Bishops censoring student scholarship and burdening academic freedom through the proxy of ecclesiastical endorsements. FreeBYU argues that because the Honor Code does not articulate what it takes to be eligible for an ecclesiastical endorsement, and because in practice unaccountable Bishops make this decision for a variety of inconsistent reasons, BYU students’ intellectual and academic freedom is impermissibly burdened.
Additionally, the complaint contends that the practice of expelling students for expressing a change of religious conscience is itself a violation of BYU’s obligation to ensure BYU students are free to “examine thought, reason, and perspectives of truth” and “share their reasoned conclusions with others.”
In November of 2014, BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins confirmed BYU’s policy of expelling LDS students who change their faith while at BYU. In the February 2015 news conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an LDS Apostle, appealed to First Amendment religious freedom for BYU in the “matter” of accreditation.
No response has yet been received from the NWCCU or from BYU.
You can read our Complaint here: