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BYU issues policy affirming political neutrality

Official says no one incident led to action

Published: Monday, July 27 2015 8:13 p.m. MDT

PROVO — Brigham Young University officials say updating the school's political neutrality policy has nothing to do with any recent events or incidents on the campus.
The university is continuously revising its policies, and with the general election coming up, this is simply a good time to examine the political neutrality policy, BYU officials say.
"There is not something (specific incident) that caused us to move ahead and revise the policy," BYU spokeswoman Carri P. Jenkins said.
Some people have pointed out last year's campus visit by Vice President Dick Cheney as the reason for BYU's actions. Cheney spoke at BYU's April commencement exercises. The event drew several protests by students, military veterans and others.
Jenkins said if there is an overriding factor to consider in BYU's decision to clarify its policy, it is related to protecting the school's tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Service codes. Despite rumors to the contrary, Jenkins said the Cheney visit, the emergence of an LDS presidential candidate — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is seeking the Republican nomination — and the recent decision by BYU associate professor of educational leadership Steven Brough to file as a Democrat for a state Senate seat representing Orem were all non-factors in the action.
"No. There is not one single event that caused us to revise our policy," Jenkins said.
Summarized, the policy states:
"The essential functions of the university require strict institutional neutrality, integrity, and independence regarding partisan political activities, particularly because perceived partisanship is often interpreted as endorsement by the university's affiliated sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the 'Church').
"This policy is designed to protect the neutrality of the university and the Church in the course of political activities that involve members of the campus community or university facilities and resources and to preserve the university's tax exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code."
The policy was sent via e-mail to BYU employees last Thursday. It can be accessed via the university's Intranet, Route Y.
"It provides a better explanation of the process of the university," Jenkins said.
Further, the Internal Revenue Service has revised its rules and regulations, and the university wants to make sure it's in compliance regarding its status as a private nonprofit institution, she said.


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