The recent AAUP report featured in the Sept. 15th issue of the Daily Universe was illustrative in many ways, as was Jim Gordon’s response. As a student here, I can recall my earliest notions of what life here would be like; I anticipated a different set of standards I would be asked to live, a relatively homogeneous community of peers(along with the excessive Disneywatching and 80’s pop music), and a curriculum with a fairly orthodox LDS slant to it. As I have seen friends at secular universities being arrested, wasting away their minds in drugs and promiscuity, and entering the job market with very little sense of character and honor to offer, I have come to appreciate the atmosphere here, because my friends’ experiences don’t give me much of a choice.
What I don’t understand is why people choose to study or to teach here, when they don’t intend to adhere to the principles that embody the mission of this university. Professor Houston’s perspective on things illustrated so much; we can see the honor code and our academic standards in one of three ways: 1. We can see these things as being oppressive, constraining, and freedomlimiting, 2. We can see these rules as being liberating, strengthening, and conducive to making us better people, or 3. We can be entirely indifferent to the issue. It’s interesting how so many of the faculty here are perfectly happy and content having “authority figures” to adjust the course in which this university leads its students, while other faculty members feel oppressed, victimized, and martyred by the way BYU is run. In my own life, the times I’ve been most prone to challenge authorities have been when I’ve felt guilty and ashamed of things I’ve done or unable to do what those figures have asked of me.
I don’t believe in running away from difficult issues and questions our community faces, but I see people who resolve these issues for themselves without imposing their discontent on others. The fact is, if we want confusion, we’ll get it, and if we want to commit less to our standards, we’ll challenge our standards and look for chinks in the armor of those who dictate them. Lots of universities thrive on these behaviors. I think our administration understands this, and so I sustain them in their decisions and their perspectives on academic freedom.