Brigham Young University students won't hear a speech former Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham was to have given this month on campus, because a school policy prevents people involved in illegal or unethical behavior from lecturing.
BYU College Republicans had invited Mecham to speak to their group before receiving approval from their faculty adviser and a university committee that reviews visiting lecturers.Faculty adviser Brad Hainsworth nixed the plan, saying recent controversy over Mecham's behavior precludes him from speaking at BYU, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Given Gov. Mecham's status right now, I determined that given the university's policy on speakers, now would not be a good time to invite him to the campus," Hainsworth said. "I just had to use a judgment call, and given the criteria made a judgment."
On April 4, the Arizona Senate convicted Mecham on two impeachment articles, making him the first American governor forced out of office in 60 years. He was found guilty of obstructing justice and misusing state funds. His trial began Thursday in Phoenix Superior Court on six criminal counts of fraud and perjury in connection with failure to disclose a $350,000 campaign loan.
Mecham had not been officially invited to the university. That can be done only after approval has been given by university officials. The former governor planned to come to Provo based on the OK of College Republicans' representatives, who contacted him through his nephew, a student at BYU.
Joe Woodwell, student chairman of the group, said College Republicans' members aren't too disappointed.
"They feel fine. They understand the university's position." he said. "We found we had a serious problem with the governor because he's involved in court proceedings. We didn't want BYU to become a legal battleground for the governor."
Arizona residents have been divided by the controversy surrounding Mecham, and Woodwell said members of the College Republicans hoped to get a broad view of the issues from the former governor.
But the university's policy says: "The speaker must not in his personal life have committed acts of immorality, dishonesty or other conduct that would make it inappropriate for the Church Education System to feature him as a speaker. Thus, the speaker must be a person whose life and advice are an appropriate model for students in an educational system with our ideals."