Iowa State students critical of Big 12 addition of BYU over previous homophobic policies

·2 min read

Five years ago, Iowa State University student backlash followed when the Big 12 Conference contemplated the addition of Brigham Young University, which until recently banned "homosexual behavior."

Now, Iowa State's Student Government is condemning a lack of student input before a recent Big 12 vote to invite BYU, a private Mormon college in Provo, Utah.

The Big 12, of which Iowa State is a member, announced Sept. 10 plans to invite BYU, as well as Houston, Central Florida and Cincinnati into the conference. This comes after the Southeastern Conference invited current Big 12 teams Texas and Oklahoma to join that league by 2025, possibly sooner.

The Student Government resolution says the Big 12 Conference and Iowa State University failed to gather student input before voting on the expansion.

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"Specifically, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have been left completely shut out by the Administration’s choice to allow Brigham Young University into the Conference," the resolution states. "Because of previous feedback given by Student Government Senate in 2016, the Administration should have expected that BYU’s admission to the Big XII would have a negative impact on LGBTQIA+ students."

A statement from Iowa State University in response to the Student Government resolution said all four universities invited to join the Big 12 were fully vetted and are in good standing with the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

“University and athletic department leaders are aware of the concerns expressed in the resolution and appreciate members of ISU’s Student Government sharing their feedback," the statement said.

Brigham Young fans cheer during a game against Arizona at Allegiant Stadium.
Brigham Young fans cheer during a game against Arizona at Allegiant Stadium.

Last year, the university sponsored by the Latter Day Saints removed a portion of its student conduct code banning all acts of intimacy that give "expression of homosexual feelings," according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Discussions of Big 12 expansion in 2016, which included BYU, spurred disapproval from advocacy groups across the country.

At the time, 25 LGBTQ organizations signed a letter to the Big 12 commissioner, asking BYU be excluded from the league. Iowa State's student senate joined the group of dissenting voices after passing a resolution one month later.

The conference ultimately decided not to expand until the recent vote.

"This institution (BYU) has a clear history of homophobia that continues to persist to this day," the Iowa State resolution states. "In the future, Student Government demands that the Administration at Iowa State be more considerate of student opinion, makes an effort to allow for student input on University matters."

Danielle Gehr is a politics and government reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at dgehr@gannett.com or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.

This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Iowa State student leaders complain Big 12 added BYU without input