By MATT LEMMON
Although most services on campus close their doors during Devotionals, several of those doors remain open during general conference.
Some students disapprove of this irregularity in campus policy.
Jenny Songer, 23, a senior from Huntsville, Weber County, majoring in humanities and English teaching, said leaving athletic facilities open during general conference shows a bad order of priorities.
“We’re showing that we value exercise over the prophet’s words,” Songer said.
Songer has worked in the Women’s Locker Room in the Richards Building for the past four years. In those four years, she said she has had to work during conference several times.
She also said the administration should close the Richards Building and other services around campus during Saturday’s conference sessions to set an example of following “certain standards including … listening to the prophet’s words.”
She also said the university should close facilities to be consistent with the policy of closing for Devotionals and forums.
Songer said she has taken the issue to administrators, hoping for a change in policy.
Dean Robert K. Conlee, in charge of the Richards Building, said this is the first time a student has brought the issue to his attention.
Conlee said he is sensitive to the issues Songer has brought up, though the standing policy has been to remain open during Saturday’s conference sessions.
The building remains open partly because students can video record the broadcast, he said.
It does close, however, for priesthood session because the session is not broadcast and is difficult to record, Conlee said.
Conlee said he will conduct meetings this week to determine if he should close the building during future conference sessions.
Those attending the meetings will review studies performed Saturday to measure use of the Richards Building.
He said he will make changes if it seems to be in everyone’s best interest to do so.
“We’re not adverse to reconsidering our position,” Conlee said.
Alton Wade, Student Life vice president, said this issue has resurfaced every October and April for the past 10 years.
He said the administration has discussed the issue many times, trying to come up with the best solution. For various reasons, the administration has decided to have the facilities remain open, Wade said.
The bookstore remains open, he said, because that Saturday may be the only chance some out-of-town visitors have to come to the store.
“It’s open for many, many people who come from around the world to visit BYU during conference time,” Wade said.
Joe Merrill, an assistant director at the BYU Bookstore, said that although the bookstore remains open, efforts are made to accommodate employees.
He said the bookstore changed some policies following the October 1999 conference so employees could see at least one Saturday session of conference.
Kim Bryant, 22, a senior from Shelley, Idaho, majoring in history, said she would have to work at the bookstore during one Saturday session.
She said she would prefer not to work during conference, but she said she did not think it was a big deal.
“I can understand from a business perspective why they stay open,” Bryant said.
Another bookstore employee, Erin Smith, 19, a sophomore from Provo majoring in sociology, said the issue does not affect her.
“They pipe it over the intercom anyway,” she said.
Different from the bookstore and Richards Building, the library closes its circulation desk and other services during conference sessions, said Erva Rieske, of the university librarian’s office.
The library is still open to the public, but no services are offered during that time, she said.