REXBURG, Idaho — Officials at Brigham Young University-Idaho have dissolved the student-run College Republicans and College Democrats political organizations.
School spokesman Andy Cargal said the move is to make sure the university's political-neutrality policy is being followed.
The Rexburg-based university is a private institution run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"We feel that it is in the best interest of our university to be politically neutral," Cargal told the Standard Journal of Rexburg. "While we actively encourage our students to be politically active and join political parties of their choice, we feel that BYU-Idaho itself can't be a sponsor of partisan political groups or activities."
Carri Jenkins, a spokeswoman for Brigham Young University in Provo, said the university's main campus is not disbanding its College Republicans or College Democrats student organizations.
"It's not something that's under discussion," Jenkins said.
Michael Johanson, a spokesman at BYU-Hawaii, also said that campus has no plans to dissolve the two groups, either.
Ron Nate, a BYU-Idaho professor, said the College Republicans were the larger and far more active group at the Rexburg school. They averaged between 100 and 200 students, while the College Democrats rarely had more than 30.
"The one-sided appearance worries the school more than the reality of having one of each party," said Nate. "If one group is always stronger, always more populated and always more active, then it can give the appearance of a non-neutral campus."
The school's College Republicans became much more active in 2004, when they were contacted by the Republican National Committee asking for volunteers to help with the governor's race in Colorado and the U.S. presidential race.
Eighteen students campaigned in Colorado, and some students went to the Republican National Convention in New York.
"It reiterated for me the importance and need for political activism," said Jessica Keith, who attended the convention and was the most recent president of the College Republicans last winter. "This takes away from our college experience."
In 2005, 160 students campaigned for governor of Virginia. In 2006, 183 students campaigned in six states for various candidates.
Last year, 43 students campaigned for Mitt Romney, a wealthy Mormon businessman, in three states as he sought the Republican presidential nod. Another 25 students campaigned for GOP presidential nominee John McCain in Las Vegas.
Ben Adder, president of the College Democrats last winter, said its members campaigned for some local and regional elections. Like his counterpart with the College Republicans, he disagreed with dissolving the two groups.
"I understand why the school's neutral, but they're doing it wrong," said Adder. "The lack of any politics is not an effective tool in establishing political neutrality."
The LDS Church itself actively worked last fall with a coalition of groups to successfully ban gay marriage in California.
Many gay-marriage advocates turned their anger toward the LDS Church, picketing outside church temples nationwide. In Utah, more than 3,000 staged a protest march outside the Salt Lake City temple just days after Proposition 8 was passed by California voters in November.