Brigham Young University president Rex E. Lee spent a part of Wednesday afternoon getting personal with BYU students.
Lee agreed to try to answer all questions, and the topics ranged from parking frustrations and recent changes to the Honor Code and Dress and Grooming Standard to the role of the university in the international community.Parking has often been a concern of BYU students.
"Land is so scarce and the demands for it are so great," Lee said. It is possible that in the future there will not be parking at all in the inner campus.
This will not stem from a car ban, he said; there will be no room left to park.
Lee told students the university has acquired areas to the south of campus - at some expense - to be used for parking. He sees existing outer areas, even the stadium parking lot, as other alternatives.
"The problems will get more serious," he said. "But there is a lot of creative work being done. Your younger brothers and sisters who attend this university are going to have to walk farther than you do now."
One student from Brazil asked Lee about BYU's international role as a university - should it represent the United States or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Lee responded, "With respect to national-origin tolerance we have a long way to go."
BYU's location naturally means it is pro-American, but the university is not just an American university, Lee said.
The student pointed to a memorial to soldiers who had been BYU students and who had died in various wars. The dedication states, "To those who gave their lives for our country."
"It should say `to those who gave their lives for their country,"' the student said.
Lee said he had never noticed that before, but he believes BYU "owes it to you and the international community" to do something about it.
Students seemed appreciative of the recent changes in the Honor Code and the Dress and Grooming Standard, but sought an explanation for the decision not to permit beards and longer hair on campus.
Lee said his rationale is "we enjoy what, in my opinion, is the best education for the money," and the decision to prohibit beards was made by the Board of Trustees of the university that provides that opportunity.
"We must accept that," he said. Lee described his work for the federal government and said some of BYU's standards are very mild compared with government rules.
Other students voiced concern that there is no organization or forum to discuss issues of discrimination against women.
Lee said he believes the university should do something about that. Members of BYU's Student Advisory Council said such a committee was in the works.