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BYU: A beacon of liberal learning?

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  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 20, 2014 1:59 p.m.

    Can't get away from liberals.

  • ArgoFY Salt Lake City, Utah
    May 20, 2014 2:02 p.m.

    They're talking about the same BYU that, from 1998 until this very moment, is criticized and condemned by the American Association of University Professors for infringement on academic freedoms. I had a good laugh when I read the article headline.

  • Ralph Salt Lake City, UT
    May 20, 2014 2:05 p.m.

    BYU: A beacon of liberal learning?

    Yeah, I don't think so...

  • Understands Math Lacey, WA
    May 20, 2014 2:18 p.m.

    '“In some ways, BYU was a profoundly illiberal place,” he says. “And yet I was perfectly free to teach whatever I wanted in the classroom. And I did. I taught large introductory lecture courses in ancient, medieval, and modern political thought, including some of the most radical writings of Plato, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Marx.”'

    The only universities where you *wouldn't* expect to see something like that would be Liberty University or Bob Jones University.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    May 20, 2014 2:29 p.m.

    Pretty weak responses. If you don't have an argument, try to laugh at the other person. That garners support from equally weak-minded thinkers.

  • Naval Vet Philadelphia, PA
    May 20, 2014 2:53 p.m.

    "BYU: A beacon of liberal learning?"

    Well THAT's an easy question. Absolutely NOT! Just look at who they bring in for commencement speeches. Dick Cheney? And Y officials claimed that their invitation to him to speak should be viewed as "one extended to someone holding the high office of vice president of the United States rather than to a partisan political figure."

    Right. So any day now, they'll invite Joe Biden, Al Gore, or Walter Mondale.

    The Y needs to get off the AAUP censure list before even attempting to make a case that it even allows for liberal THOUGHTs. But a "beacon" of liberal learning?

    No way.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    May 20, 2014 3:16 p.m.

    He's right. Classic Liberalism is nothing like what is practiced by the left today.

  • Unreconstructed Reb Chantilly, VA
    May 20, 2014 3:30 p.m.

    I'm as True BYU Blue as they come, but let's not make the place out to be something it's not. There are definitely somewhat-left-of center professors in places like poli sci department (where I majored), and I think that many stereotypes of the campus are completely overblown. But there's little doubt that the student body and the administration are overwhelmingly conservative.

    As to Dick Cheney, I have from someone I trust that he essentially invited himself to a "safe" commencement environment, and while the university knew he'd be a polarizing figure, it respected the office too much to decline the offer. I'm proud that some students took the opportunity to disagree publicly with the invitation.

    And Harry Reid spoke on campus a few years back. I think that's worth pointing out.

  • woolybruce Idaho Falls, ID
    May 20, 2014 3:40 p.m.

    Could this professor teach from David Hume and his discussion on natural religion?

  • E Sam Provo, UT
    May 20, 2014 3:51 p.m.

    There was a time when BYU was more receptive to liberal ideas than now. Or really any time since about 1996.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 20, 2014 3:51 p.m.

    @Naval Vet
    "Well THAT's an easy question. Absolutely NOT! Just look at who they bring in for commencement speeches. Dick Cheney? "

    This isn't arguing about politically "liberal", but the definition of liberal that involves open-mindedness (I totally worded that poorly, but for the sake of amusing conservatives, I'm going to leave it that way rather than fix it). Anyway, I don't think inviting Cheney is an example against that.

  • AZKID Mapleton, UT
    May 20, 2014 4:07 p.m.

    In contrast to the political correctness that rules many so called "liberal" universities, I find BYU to be quite refreshing. (The only thing that doesn't fly there--nor should it--is hostility towards the LDS church.)

    As a naive freshman at BYU, I was introduced to many liberal philosophies that stirred some angst in my "good Mormon boy" soul. I didn't adopt all those ideas as my own, but the internal debates they produced have made all the difference. Upon reflection, I consider this experience to be the hallmark of my education. It helped me to be a better father, husband, church leader (and yes, republican). My liberal BYU education has strengthened my faith and enabled me to better serve others.

    So I applaud the article by Mr. Linker. True liberalism is to hear a wide variety of viewpoints and carefully consider which to adopt as one's own. This must be done in the full light of other Higher sources of truth--not just those that are considered politically correct in the closed thought circles of the left.

    This is the remarkable (and liberal) gift that BYU offers to those who are willing to receive it.

  • Vanceone Provo, UT
    May 20, 2014 4:15 p.m.

    Heh. The leftists here don't have a clue what a "Classical" liberal education is. They think a liberal eduction is listening to Walter Mondale? No wonder we are so messed up.

    A classical liberal education involves the trivium at the pre college levels, and engaging with some of the best minds--Plato, locke, Aristotle. Not stuff like "My adventures as a female transsexual black gendered dwarf amputee" --surely what leftists want us all to read instead.

    If you do not even know what a classical liberal is versus today's leftist claptrap, then no wonder you are snickering at the idea that BYU is a liberal school. But that speaks more about you than it does about BYU.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    May 20, 2014 4:18 p.m.

    Please . . . BYU has many unique virtues, but "beacon of liberal education" is not one of them.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    May 20, 2014 4:21 p.m.

    I think BYU is more liberal than people think but in reality it was more liberal 20 or so years ago than today. The faculty, especially was much more liberal than present day and much more liberal than it students. As for BYU being boycotted by some organization of professors, some might call this a badge of honor. It seems that our liberal college campuses are anything but liberal which strictly means to be more open-minded and tolerant. As a former BYU student, I won't lie, most of the speakers say at your typical forum were conservative. However, plenty political liberal speakers were invited to these forums, much more than people think (and I hate people who never attended the university offering opinions in which they have actual little factual information). BYU (administrators nor students) didn't ban these speakers. Unfortunately politically conservative speakers are being banned on many campuses, being shouted down by intolerant students who in the end persuade their weak-minded administrators to ban them. If this is what a so-called "liberal education" is, I have serious issues with these universities using the term "liberal education."

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 20, 2014 5:13 p.m.

    When did michael moore speak at the graduation?

  • Common-Tator Saint Paul, MN
    May 20, 2014 5:15 p.m.

    I found it quite informative, and equally expected, that the knee-jerk reaction on the part of many would be, "BYU liberal? No way." Those fell obviously into the category of people who rarely get beyond a headline, and quite decidedly fail to read the article.

    Some got it. Thank you Howard Beal, Vanceone, AZKID, Schnee, etc. As for Naval Vet, ArgoFY, and those others who never got that far, become a tad more "liberal" as defined by the author, and take the time to actually read what he wrote rather than commenting without knowledge!

    Having graduated from West Point, BYU, and Harvard, it is ironic that the only one of these three where a dissenting point of view could be voiced and responded to in a calm, considered manner, was BYU. While there are decidedly more "conservative" voices at BYU than "liberal" as defined on the political spectrum, the ability to converse beyond the dictates of political correctness were decidedly more "liberal" in the true definition of the word at the Y ... READ THE ARTICLE!!!

  • Mark l SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    May 20, 2014 6:05 p.m.

    I heard that BYU professors find the atmosphere at BYU surprisingly refreshing. All points of view are welcome, which describes what a classical liberal education should be.

  • Cincinnatus Kearns, UT
    May 20, 2014 6:58 p.m.

    Great posts by Common-Tater, AZKID, Schnee and a few others who understand the differences in the use of the word liberal, and therefore exemplifying the idea of liberal educations.

    It always amuses me to watch reactions to the word liberal and particularly some of the comments on this story. There are multiple meanings and uses of the word liberal, and yet too many immediately jump to the conclusion that it MUST mean politics.

    If someone were to say, "Give him a liberal helping of roast beef," I'm almost certain that someone here would decry the evils of socialist meats.

    Saying that BYU offers a true liberal education is, in fact, a compliment- not some kind of political tag.

  • Res Novae Ashburn, VA
    May 20, 2014 8:45 p.m.

    "The Y needs to get off the AAUP censure list before even attempting to make a case that it even allows for liberal THOUGHTs. But a "beacon" of liberal learning?"

    BYU wasn't remonstrated because of limitations on academic freedom, but because in the view of the AAUP the University's statement on academic freedom didn't adequately delineate what the restrictions are and what effect they have on hiring and tenure decisions. The AAUP recognizes that religious institutions have the right to restrict expression directly contradicting their religious teachings. It's important to read the report for what it says, not for what notoriously hyper-partisan BYU haters like Naval Vet claim it says.

    I'm genuinely puzzled when self-identified Mormons attack BYU for restricting voices which directly attack or contradict LDS doctrine. I see no reason for the university (and the tithing which supports it) to condone academic expressions which run opposite to its religious mission.

  • wwookie Payson, UT
    May 20, 2014 9:03 p.m.

    BYU is a great university for Mormons. They are in a comfortable environment so that they can listen to other ideas and perspectives without the pressure that plagues the majority of universities to accept radical or unusual views. They are not being indoctrinated, but rather exposed to new ideas.
    My favorite class at the U of U was a world religions class, and I saw so many Mormons feel threatened by new ideas and it interrupted the learning that could have taken place for them and others. If this professor only received a complaint once in a two year term, It appears that BYU is creating the right environment to get through to the more religious students.

    ...of course when it comes to sports, no kind words... ;-)

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    May 20, 2014 9:52 p.m.

    A couple of months ago someone in this opinion. page speculated that because BYU was associated with religion that certain viiewpoints would be censored. A couple of weeks later Stanford ran into problems for censoring someone.

    At some point in time liberal has been redefined and we did not pick up on it. BYU is a lot more tolerant than other universities that fall all over themselves with their more " liberal than thou attitudes".

  • Golden Eagle Holladay, UT
    May 20, 2014 9:54 p.m.

    Harry Reid spoke at my BYU law school graduation. But I wish he wouldn't have. All he did was talk about himself, and how cool his story was coming out of Searchlight, Nevada, blah blah blah. It was a yawner of a commencement speech.

  • Andre Kaysville, UT
    May 20, 2014 10:25 p.m.

    This was my experience as well while a student. BYU offers course in all of the traditional, major academic disciplines and I never had a sense that any topic was off-limits.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    May 20, 2014 10:38 p.m.

    One might be shocked that at BYU I was able to take a class on world religions from a guest professor who was Buddhist. Philosophical ideas ranging from Cleon Skousen to Karl Marx were discussed. In Biology (gasp people), Evolution was taught. At the library I could access about any periodical imaginable. I regularly attended forums that featured speakers from all walks of life who were on both sides of the political aisle. Again, I expected BYU to be a conservative environment (which it generally was a let's be realistic) but I was actually pleasantly surprised at the diversity of ideas our professors brought and even the administration allowed through guest lecturers, forums etc. Again, I'm not saying BYU is CU or Cal-Berkley or anything but I think there is more to the place than meets the eye.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    May 21, 2014 6:28 a.m.

    Well, once you consider the fact that Jesus was himself Liberal, and taught Liberal ideas and Doctrines....

    Then BYU SHOULD be a beacon of Liberal learning!

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    May 21, 2014 8:35 a.m.

    to Flashback

    Byu is far from a classical liberal (Libertarian) Environment too.

    re: wwookie

    Interesting. A little turmoil is good. Case in point; Switzerland and Italy in the middle ages. Switzerland was calm while Italy had all types of chaos.

    From Italy, we got DaVinci, Michelangelo, etc... essentially the Renaissance.

    Whereas Switzerland is known for banking, chocolate, & clocks.

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    May 21, 2014 8:46 a.m.

    re: Understands Math

    The curriculum for most Social Science & Humanities programs at Baylor have a course or two related to the bible.

    Byu is nowhere near as "structured"; kudos to the school in Provo. I believe Notre Dame, Boston College, & Georgetown are relatively open minded as well.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    May 21, 2014 8:54 a.m.

    Progressive vs regressive thinking?
    They'll choose regressive every time.

  • GK Willington Salt Lake City, UT
    May 21, 2014 9:18 a.m.

    to Golden Eagle

    A boring speech related to the legal profession? I am shocked, amazed, & astounded? Not really.

  • Lew Scannon Provo, UT
    May 21, 2014 10:36 a.m.

    I taught at BYU, in the business school no less, for 9 years. I was the resident anti-corporate on the faculty. Never did an administrator set foot in my classroom. Not once was I told what I could or couldn't teach. It was understood that you would get in trouble for attacking the Church or its leaders. But I had a great deal of freedom regarding what I taught, even if it went against the grain of what was "approved" dogma in the business curriculum. I'm sure the administrators in the business department reviewed the student evaluations of my teaching carefully. But they consistently gave me their support.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 21, 2014 11:11 a.m.

    And yet... BYU is still a respected University and attracts top students and faculty nationally and internationally.

    Despite all the complaining from some... they seem to be able to do an adequate job at BYU. Many of their graduates excel and are very successful academically, socially, and economically.

  • Jimmytheliberal Salt Lake City, UT
    May 21, 2014 12:02 p.m.

    @Vanceone...Liberals that posses Ivy League Degrees are quite aware of what a "classic liberal education" entails.

  • Seldom Seen Smith Orcutt, CA
    May 21, 2014 1:02 p.m.

    I'm far from a BYU apologist, the reality is, the stifling hypersensitive political correctness run amok is so pervasive that BYU is now a place that promotes more diversity of discussion than the overwhelming majority of American colleges, i.e., allows more tolerance than the self proclaimed pop culture "people of tolerance". Yes there are specific topics that can be identified that are off limits at BYU, but overall, it promotes more freedom of speech and ideas. What a sad state of affairs.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 21, 2014 3:25 p.m.

    How funny.... It is most amusing that some have tragically cross link a liberal education with politics. They are hardly the same thing. A conservative can just as easily challenge the status quo, seeking understanding and further enlightenment, and still maintain conservative values.

    The problem is definition of the word liberal has been hijacked by a select group of people in the media and warped the meaning into something resembling hard to rationalize. Joseph Smith was a progressive in that he challenged the common thinking of the day around religion and the nature of God - even the meaning of life. Many great theological minds throughout history have been devoutly conservative, and yet were progressive or even liberal when it came to looking for greater meaning than the common thought of the day allowed.

    But to some, all things are political, and can't see beyond the media frenzied rhetoric.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 21, 2014 3:28 p.m.

    Seldom Seen Smith
    Orcutt, CA
    I'm far from a BYU apologist, the reality is, the stifling hypersensitive political correctness run amok is so pervasive that BYU is now a place that promotes more diversity of discussion than the overwhelming majority of American colleges, i.e., allows more tolerance than the self proclaimed pop culture "people of tolerance". Yes there are specific topics that can be identified that are off limits at BYU, but overall, it promotes more freedom of speech and ideas. What a sad state of affairs.

    1:02 p.m. May 21, 2014

    ======

    Really?

    Like - Legalized medical marijuana?
    SSM?
    Immigration reform?
    Wars in the Middle East?
    Utah's horrible air pollution?
    Recycling?
    Universal Healthcare?
    The Occupy WallStreet movement?

    I'd bet my last dollar you mention ONE of those topics,
    and Campus Security would walk you out, and call your Bishop.

    Face it,
    NuSkin products and other NetWork marketing "get rich quick" schemes are about the most controversial topics of conversation you'll ever hear at BYU.

    BTW -- Do they still have an active "spy-ring" ratting out "Liberal" professors down there at the "Y" like they did back in my day?

    If they do - it's a "secret"...