Iowa State student leaders complain Big 12 added BYU without contribution


Five years ago, the reaction from Iowa State University students followed when the Big 12 Conference considered adding Brigham Young University, which until recently banned “same-sex behavior.”

Now the Iowa State student government is condemning the lack of student participation ahead of a recent Big 12 vote to invite BYU, a private Mormon college to Provo, Utah.

The Big 12, of which the state of Iowa is a member, announced on September 10 that it plans to invite BYU, as well as Houston, Central Florida and Cincinnati to the conference. It comes after the Southeastern Conference invited current Big 12 teams from 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 get student feedback before voting on the expansion.

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“Specifically, members of the LGBTQIA + community have been completely excluded by the administration’s choice to allow Brigham Young University to participate in the conference,” the resolution reads. “Due to previous comments given by the Student Government Senate in 2016, the administration should have expected BYU’s admission to Big XII to have a negative impact on LGBTQIA + students.”

A statement from Iowa State University in response to the student government resolution said the four universities invited to join the Big 12 have been fully vetted and are in good standing with the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

“Leaders of universities and sports departments are aware of the concerns expressed in the resolution and welcome members of the ISU student government to share their comments,” the statement said.

Last year, the Latter Day Saints-sponsored university removed part of its student code of conduct prohibiting all acts of intimacy that result in “the expression of gay feelings,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Talks about the Big 12 expansion in 2016, which included BYU, drew disapproval from advocacy groups across the country.

At the time, 25 LGBTQ organizations signed a letter to the Big 12 commissioner, asking BYU to be kicked out of the league. The Iowa State Student Senate joined the group of dissenting voices after passing a resolution a month later.

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

“This institution (BYU) has a clear history of homophobia that persists to this day,” the Iowa state resolution states. “Going forward, the student government demands that the Iowa State administration pay more attention to student opinion and make an effort to allow students to participate in academic matters.”

Danielle Gehr is a political and government journalist for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.


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