By Jessica Forsyth
Harold B. Lee Library officials are tightening up the policies on the use and distribution of R-rated movies kept on file in the library.
According to their Visual Media Policy, “All visual media materials that have an R rating or that have been designated by a faculty selector to not be suitable for general circulation will be assigned to the Faculty Use Collection.”
Before the new policy was implemented, R-rated movies were on the general circulation shelves; however, it was difficult for students to actually check them out.
“Theoretically, anyone could come and check out a rated R video and watch it at our TV,” said LRC employee Emily Hansen, 20, a junior from San Diego, Calif., majoring in English teaching.
She said employees were instructed to keep records of who was checking out what movies and to not allow students to check out R-rated movies, unless they had special permission from a faculty member.
HBLL officials have changed their policy so now all R-rated movies will be placed in a locked cabinet for faculty use only. Now, risks of accidentally giving students access to such movies is eliminated.
With the change in policy, some have raised the question as to why a school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would even have R-rated movies in its library.
“Our stewardship is to teach and research the disciplines of film history, film theory and film production … through the lens of our commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Dr. Sharon Swenson, assistant professor of the Department of Theater and Media Arts.
She said she understands there can be tensions between the demands of a professional experience and maintaining the innocence of BYU students.
She also said film clips are shown in classes “as part of our [the Theater and Media Arts Department”s] efforts to conscientiously provide university quality education … with the enhancement of being taught in a context where spiritual issues frame the discussion and illuminate learning.”
Professors walk a thin line in choosing materials that meet both the criteria of the university, as well as the educational needs of the students, said Mike Hooper, communications manager in the HBLL.
“The few [R-rated movies] that we have have been requested by faculty members … and are to be only used by faculty in accordance with the university policy,” said Randy Olsen, university librarian.
“If a university professor thinks that certain elements of a movie are helpful to students in giving them that broad education, then that is up to the professor and the department,” Hooper said.
He said he thinks the library does a good job of giving students access to materials they need to be educated without overexposing them to things that might hinder their spirituality.
“We wouldn”t be a library if we were condemning every work that we thought wasn”t suitable, but we certainly don”t make everything available for students,” Hooper said.