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To: Dr. Sandra E.

NWCCU President & Commissioners
8060 165th Ave. NE
Suite 100
Redmond, WA 98052

Executive Summary
BYU burdens the intellectual, academic, and religious freedom of the majority of its students.
This burden is evidenced by BYUs practice of expelling, terminating, and evicting Mormon BYU
students who go through a faith transition and leave the LDS Church. Because BYUs student
population is more than 98 percent Mormon, this policy restricts the majority of its students from
experiencing the academic, intellectual, and religious freedom BYU is obligated to provide as an
NWCCU-accredited institution. Specifically, BYUs practice is inconsistent with accreditation
Standard Two, Governance sections 15, 19, 23, 27, and 28.

Non-compliant Practices
Every student is required to sign the BYU Honor Code on admission to the school. The Honor
Code does not clearly convey, as Standard Two requires, the consequences of religious faith
transitions; even BYU graduates rarely grasp the reality that leaving the LDS faith results in
employment termination, housing eviction, and expulsion from BYU. The Honor Code also fails
to make clear that ones bishop (Bishop is the title for the pastor of the local Mormon
congregation), rather than a school official, can unilaterally cause the expulsion of a student.
Furthermore, enforcement of this religious discrimination policy is impermissibly unfair, as local
ecclesiastical leaders have unfettered discretion to impose consequences on students who
doubt or desire to leave the Mormon religion. There is no official document describing what
actions will and will not result in expulsion for students who are struggling with their Mormon
faith, nor is there transparency about how, when, and why expulsion decisions are made. This
leads to inconsistent and unpredictable enforcement as well as a culture of fear and selfcensorship. For example, one student was called in by his bishop to confront the students
feminism-affirming comments posted on that students social media profile. The students
friends who learned of this event then feared to write about gender disparity, homosexuality, or
any issue that might be considered controversial by conservative members of the Mormon
LDS students frequently report censoring themselves in and out of the classroom out of fear that
their comments will be reported to their local bishop, and subsequently threaten their ability to
remain enrolled. These students play a risky and uncertain game of leadership roulette in this
openly hostile environment: some bishops may refrain from taking action against a student,
while others quickly threaten or expel based on a comment the student made on her personal

This Complaint will abundantly illustrate how BYU burdens the academic, intellectual, and
religious freedom of its students. These burdens reflect conditions that substantially detriment
the general welfare and directly jeopardize the quality of BYUs educational programs. In sum,
my illustrations will demonstrate that BYU violates Standard Two because LDS students are not
intellectually free to examine thought, reason, and perspectives of truth (section 28).

I request that the NWCCU take the following actions to rectify these clear breaches of
1. Investigate and document BYUs Standard Two violations;
2. Request a visit to the institution by an ad hoc committee of the Commission to review the
situations described;
3. Make this Complaint available to the chair of the evaluation committee for consideration as part
of the next regularly scheduled institutional evaluation;
4. Make recommendations to the institution suggesting areas for improvement including changes
in procedures related to Standard Two;
5. Monitor BYUs compliance with this remediation plan;
6. Publicly sanction BYU with either a Warning, Probation, or Show Cause, as appropriate;
Determine that the institution is out of compliance with the Commissions standards for
accreditation and require corrective action by the institution within a specified period of time.

Brigham Young University (BYU) is a private university run by the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints (otherwise known as the Mormon or LDS Church). The school first received its
accreditation from the NWCCU in 1923, and its next evaluation will occur in Spring 2015.
I attended BYU for 8 years, earning a Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorates degree there, and
consequently am well acquainted with BYUs policies. As an alumni of BYU and a
representative of a class of students whose freedoms were similarly burdened, I write this
complaint to inform the NWCCU that BYU is violating several governance sections of Standard
Two (specifically sections 15, 19, 27, 28, 23). I will detail BYUs impermissible infringements on
the intellectual freedom of its students in the following sections.
An organization, FreeBYU, was independently formed to try and rectify this serious problem at
BYU. I am one of the leaders of that organization. Since BYU does not provide an institutional
grievance procedure for these violations, I requested redress directly to the decision maker
capable of remediating the violations- the BYU Board of Trustees. On November 11th 2014, with
the assistance of FreeBYU, I submitted a formal request (see http://www.freebyu.org/letter-tobyu) to the Chairman of the BYU Board of Trustees asking that the board change its policy. Paul
Johnson, the Commissioner of the Church Educational System, acknowledged receipt of my

A few days after my request was received, BYUs spokeswoman confirmed BYUs intent to
continue this practice. In response to my request, BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins
acknowledged that Mormons who change faiths are treated differently than those who enter as
non-LDS. Nonmembers have not made promises and commitments that a member of the
church has, Jenkins says. A former Mormon who decides to leave the church, distances
themselves from those promises and commitments. The result is that they are not eligible to
attend BYU. (see Group seeks change so ex-Mormons can stay at BYU, Peggy Stack, 20
November 2014, Salt Lake Tribune. http://www.sltrib.com/lifestyle/faith/1845868-155/byu-ldsstudents-church-mormon-faith).
Though the BYU spokeswoman made a statement to the press, the Board did not respond
directly to my request. I received no evidence that the Board reviewed, considered, or acted
upon my request, and have not been afforded any next steps. Given these outcomes and the

absence of a published and relevant institutional grievance procedure for these violations
(including the honor code itself), I have thus exhausted the only procedure available to me.
I encourage the NWCCU to investigate these violations and take appropriate action to bring
BYU into compliance.

Standard Two Violations, Section A (Governance)

Standard Two, Governance Section 15
Standard Two, Governance Section 15 states the following:
Policies and procedures regarding students rights and responsibilitiesincluding
academic honesty, appeals, grievances, and accommodations for persons with
disabilitiesare clearly stated, readily available, and administered in a fair and
consistent manner.
The BYU Honor Code does not clearly state the policy regarding expulsion. For those Mormon
students who desire to change religions while at BYU, this stark reality often comes as a
complete surprise.
In reality, a students bishop has unfettered discretion in whether one remains a student and can
cause expulsion by a single phone call or refusal to sign the mandatory, annual endorsement
renewal. These LDS ecclesiastical leaders are not university officials and have no obligation to
protect academic, religious, or intellectual freedom. Students academic eligibility is determined
by a third party without clear criteria, a fact which is not made clear in the Honor Code.
Many graduates (including those of graduate programs such as the law school) demonstrate a
clear lack of understanding regarding the policy when asked about it. Because of the ambiguity
and complexity/layers of the Honor Code language (eligible for the endorsement buried within
continuing student ecclesiastical endorsement buried within good honor code standing), it is
very difficult for graduates, let alone teenagers applying to BYU, to understand what it actually
means. In order to unravel the Honor Codes meaning, a student must:
1. Understand that she must have good honor code standing to remain a student at BYU;
2. Understand that a continuing student ecclesiastical endorsement is required to achieve good
honor code standing;
3. Know that eligibility is required to obtain the ecclesiastical endorsement; and
4. Understand how to be eligible for the endorsement.
Understanding this policy is difficult, if not impossible, for two reasons: (1) its complexity, and (2)
its failure to state how to be eligible for the endorsement. There is no document that makes
it clear that endorsement eligibility is, in fact, a decision made at the discretion of ones local
bishop. On this most crucial of student questions - how do I remain a student at BYU? - the
Honor Code fails to provide a complete answer.

This flowchart provides a brief overview of BYUs policy.

There is no policy document that clearly states what it means for LDS students to be eligible for
the endorsement, as this is left in the hands of the students local ecclesiastical leader. This
lack of guidelines or standards results in arbitrary enforcement. Consider some real life
examples: BYU students who are expelled for smoking pot or having premarital sex, while other
students who did the same receive a slap on the wrist or no punishment at all- based on the
bishops discretion. Some bishops warmly welcome same-sex couples to the congregation;
others summon them to discipline. There is incredible variation from bishop to bishop in what
conduct results in a threat against or actual loss of ability to stay at BYU. Because of the lack
of definition regarding ecclesiastical eligibility, different church leaders will interpret the
same situation differently, which leads to a leadership roulette.
Further, religious regulation (i.e. refusing to renew, or withdrawing, an endorsement) is not
administered in a fair and consistent manner as required by section 15. Bishops have full
authority to withdraw endorsements for a diversity of undisclosed reasons, not limited to:
Expression of conversion

Suspicion of conversion

Expression of doubt

Suspicion of doubt

Researching controversial issues

Hearsay from roommates

Writing about or stating controversial positions on academic issues (e.g. same-sex

marriage, Mormon history, sexism in governance, and LDS truth claims)
The Honor Code states: A student's endorsement may be withdrawn at any time if the
ecclesiastical leader determines that the student is no longer eligible for the endorsement. The
bishop does not have to provide any reason at all. Again, there are no eligibility criteria
stated; thus students do not know how to qualify for an endorsement, which is mandatory in
order to remain a student.
Without publishing eligibility criteria, it is impossible for BYU to be candid about how a students
academic, religious, and academic freedoms will be burdened. The current Honor Code is not
sufficient to inform the student on what she's signing up for. Sure, she promises to refrain from
gambling, plagiarizing, drinking, etc.- but did she really commit to conforming her behaviors, her
religious choices, and her expression to whatever her bishop's private standards happen to be?
How can she, when she has no way to predict those unpublished standards? For the student,
this is neither fair nor consistent.
There is also an absence of transparency in why endorsements are withdrawn: the student is
not provided with a reason when her endorsement is withdrawn, nor is there any repository
where a student can go to learn about reasons why students get expelled in actual cases.
Additionally, appeals are heard by the religious leaders rather than the school officials, as
described in the Honor Code: "The decision to withdraw an ecclesiastical endorsement may be
appealed through appropriate ecclesiastical leaders only BYU does not intervene in
ecclesiastical matters or endorsements." Therefore, requests for exceptions to the appeals
process are decided on by members of the same religious organization (the LDS church) that
withdrew the endorsement in the first place. These leaders interests are just as misaligned with
the students interest in academic/intellectual/religious freedom as bishops, if not more so.
In order for an exception to the appeals process to be successful, a student must demonstrate
sufficiently compelling grounds to warrant an exception to the university's ecclesiastical
endorsement requirement. No guidance whatsoever is provided on what would constitute
sufficiently compelling grounds. Because there are no available records on exception
requests, students have no way to know whether those requests are ever successful, and if so,
what determines success. This lack of transparency results in both inconsistency and
Last, the religious regulation itself is unfair: non-LDS students enjoy religious freedom, but LDS
students do not. For example, a Catholic BYU student may convert to any other religion (or no
religion) and BYU will never take any disciplinary action against him or her. It is only when an
LDS BYU student leaves the Mormon faith that a student is expelled from the school.

Standard Two, Governance Section 19

Standard Two, Governance Section 19 states:
Employees are apprised of their conditions of employment, work assignments, rights
and responsibilities, and criteria and procedures for evaluation, retention, promotion, and
As noted in the previous section, the Honor Code does not make clear which behaviors will and
will not be considered violations of the honor code (and thus result in termination from
employment with BYU). The reality is that the bishops unfettered, unaccountable discretion
determines whether or not an individual is terminated from employment. BYUs failure to
articulate this reality violates its obligation to apprise employees of what conduct can lead to
termination. The reality itself is also a violation of section 19, since unfettered and potentially
arbitrary discretion is the opposite of criteria that one can be apprised of.

Standard Two, Governance Section 28

Standard Two, Governance Section 28 states:
Within the context of its mission, core themes, and values, the institution defines and
actively promotes an environment that supports independent thought in the pursuit and
dissemination of knowledge. It affirms the freedom of faculty, staff, administrators, and
students to share their scholarship and reasoned conclusions with others. While the
institution and individuals within the institution may hold to a particular personal, social,
or religious philosophy, its constituencies are intellectually free to examine thought,
reason, and perspectives of truth. Moreover, they allow others the freedom to do the
Since more than 98 percent of BYU students are Mormon, the vast majority of students lack the
freedom to decide their own religious and intellectual destinies. Though the 2 percent of nonMormon students on campus may examine perspectives of truth and act on their discoveries,
LDS students who come to other religious conclusions (e.g. Islam, Catholicism, or atheism) are
expelled, terminated from BYU jobs, and evicted from BYU contract housing.
Here is one example of a letter received by a former BYU student, Mark, that was expelled for
leaving the Mormon religion. This letter (emphasis added) demonstrates the utter absence of
either an environment that supports independent thought or students who are intellectually
free to examine thought, reason, and perspectives of truth.
Dear student,
Bishop ___ has informed the Honor Code Office that your ecclesiastical endorsement
has been withdrawn. Since university policy requires all students to have a current
endorsement, we have placed a hold on your registration, graduation, and diploma until
you are able to qualify for a new one. Effective immediately, you are no longer

eligible to attend daytime or evening classes, to register for other courses, to

graduate from BYU, to work for the university, or to reside in BYU contract
housing. You cannot enroll in or be enrolled in any BYU course that could apply to
graduation, including but not limited to Independent Study courses, until you are
returned to good standing. Please note that you may not represent the university or
participate in any university programs such as Study Abroad, academic internships,
performing groups, etc. A hold has been placed on your record which will prevent you
from being considered for admission to any Church Educational System school until you
are returned to good Honor Code standing. Good Honor Code standing includes a valid,
current ecclesiastical endorsement.
The Honor Code Office will work with Discontinuance to remove your classes. If you
have any questions please call the Honor Code Office. If you are currently working on
past incomplete grade contracts please notify the Honor Code Office immediately. When
you are ready to return to the university, you must work closely with the Admissions
Office, A-153 ASB, (801) 422-2507, regarding readmission requirements.
During at least the next twelve months, Bishop ___s clearance must be obtained before
any other bishop can endorse you. Your bishop must verbally notify the Honor Code
Office as soon as your endorsement has been reinstated. Also be aware that you must
stay in contact with the Admissions Office in A-153 ASB (422-2507) regarding
readmission requirements if you are away for a full semester. Because the
ecclesiastical interview is confidential, any questions regarding your church
standing must be resolved with your ecclesiastical leaders. The withdrawal of your
endorsement is independent of any investigation or action that may be taken by the
Honor Code Office.
If you have any questions about the withdrawal of your endorsement, please contact
your bishop and/or your stake president. Your classes will be discontinued immediately.
Larry Neal, Honor Code Office Director
Faith transitions can be extremely difficult for students like Mark. I happen to be acquainted with
his story and learned that Marks decision to change religions came as the result of soulwrenching internal searching and external researching. Crucially, it came as the direct result of
the very examining thought, reason, and perspectives of truth that BYU is obligated to support.
And according to the letter, the only way back into school for this student is through Mormon
leaders! Rather than promoting independent thought and intellectual freedom, this and other
examples like it demonstrate willful repression of and retaliation against those very ideals.

Within days of resignation from the LDS church, Mark student lost his on-campus job and was
expelled from BYU. He also received a Notice to Vacate from his private landlord, a precursor to
eviction proceedings, which ultimately resulted in Mark losing his housing.

Standard Two, Governance Section 27

Standard Two, Governance Section 27 states:
The institution publishes and adheres to policies, approved by its governing board,
regarding academic freedom and responsibility that protect its constituencies from
inappropriate internal and external influences, pressures, and harassment.
BYU outsources Honor Code enforcement to the ecclesiastical leaders of the student's local
Mormon congregation (a third party). This creates an inappropriate external influence on
students. The LDS Church inappropriately burdens the academic freedom of BYUs
students via the proxy of ecclesiastical endorsements.
This outsourcing of deciding student status is aggravated by the third parties substantial conflict
of interest. Bishops owe no obligation to accreditation standards or ideals such as intellectual
and academic freedom. Instead, they owe their loyalty to the LDS church, whose primary focus
is to save souls through obedience to LDS teachings. Bishops decisions are largely consistent
with the latter interest, and, as these examples illustrate, they are frequently inconsistent with
the interest of students unburdened intellectual, academic, and religious freedom.
To demonstrate this inappropriate influence, I will share a personal example to fully illustrate
how academic freedom was burdened through the proxy of an ecclesiastical endorsement.
While a student at BYU, I wrote and published a book about
homosexuality and same-sex marriage entitled
Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Students Perspective1
(available on Amazon). Same-sex marriage is a hot-button
issue in the LDS community, given the stance of the LDS
Church that same-sex relations are sinful and that manwoman marriage is the only form recognized by God. There
are also many gay Mormons who have committed suicide
because of this stance, and I personally felt (and still feel)
that it is a vitally important issue.
Because of my strong feelings about its importance, I felt
driven to research the subject and get to the bottom of it.
Out of this effort came the single most intense, thorough,
and challenging intellectual and academic exercise of my
1 To avoid confusion: I took my wifes last name when I married last year. My current name is Brad Levin;
my former, Brad Carmack.

life: writing this 200+ page, 600+ footnote book at the intersection of homosexuality,
Mormonism, and marriage.
Partway through the drafting process, my bishop became aware of my ambition to write and
publish the book. He threatened me directly: If you come out publicly in favor of same-sex
marriage, I will hold a disciplinary council on you (which, according to the honor code, would
result in my automatic expulsion). A BYU law student at the time, I was approached by both the
Dean of the Students of the law school as well as the Dean of the Law School himself, who both
confirmed that I was subject to the honor code and risked expulsion if I continued with writing
and publishing my book.
This was an incredibly trying time for me personally. I was a joint degree student simultaneously
pursuing a Master of Public Administration, and graduation was a mere six months away. I
called the Admissions departments at numerous other schools to investigate the feasibility of
transferring; I learned, to my chagrin, that expulsion would set me back a minimum of two years
from graduating from law school, and that a mere six of my nearly 60 MPA credits would
transfer. These consequences say nothing of the financial costs, opportunity costs,
employability loss, and the host of other personal, social, and career-related harms I would
Ultimately, I chose to censor my own writing. I feigned being undecided about the issue, and
went to great lengths to frame my analysis as a hypothetical. This is how I contorted my most
hard-won academic achievement to protect myself from expulsion:
I love and support the LDS church and its leaders - and encourage you to do so as well,
whether a member of the church or not. I have a firm testimony of the gospel of Jesus
Christ and of the LDS church. This testimony is strengthened by my regular temple
attendance (for a year I was also a temple worker), consistent service in the church,
faithful church attendance, fasting, and daily prayers and scripture study. I have always
had a special appreciation for the Book of Mormon, whose inspired passages guide my
life and decisions. Though I will make a strong moral case for LDS SSM (same-sex
marriage), please remember:
Neither this book nor this chapter is to be interpreted as promoting homosexual
relations or seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior. I do not
oppose any doctrines or policies of the church. I do not believe in advising the Lords
representatives or forcing them into my way of thinking.
Though I am still seeking the Lords will regarding SSM and evaluating the
arguments for and against it, I have been publicly active in opposing same-sex marriage.
In the fall of 2009 I volunteered with Protect Marriage Maine to help call voters in Maine
to oppose same-sex marriage legislation there (which opposition prevailed).
That a strong moral case for LDS SSM exists does not necessarily imply that the
moral case against SSM is weaker. A key outcome of a successful education is the
ability to make a persuasive argument advancing a proposition with which one

personally disagrees. If successful, my rigorous presentation of the pro-SSM position

will help traditional marriage defenders sharpen their advocacy as a consequence of
understanding their opposition better.
Now back to the task at hand. To make this moral case, I ask you to embark on a
thought experiment with me into a world independent of the one you know - specifically,
a world exactly like this one, with two exceptions: 1) that homosexual conduct is sinful is
not a necessary moral conclusion; and 2) that SSM is wrong is not a necessary moral
conclusion. The purpose for these exceptions is to engender a forward, (i.e. take a look
at evidence, then conclude) rather than a retrospective, (make the conclusion first, then
interpret evidence through that lens) evaluation. I believe what Ive asked of you is a
truly awkward mental task- but please take a minute to really complete it.
Once you're inside the world, read on. Remember, this is a thought experiment, a safe
zone which cannot be construed as the authors view on the morality of SSM in the
actual world. Again, because of how often this chapter has been misinterpreted as my
real-world views toward SSM, I underline- a thought experiment is a departure from the
real world into the realm of imagination.
As you can see, rather than experiencing the freedom of faculty, staff, administrators, and
students to share their scholarship and reasoned conclusions with others, I instead had to
pretend to be a loyal, same-sex-marriage-opposed, faithful Mormon. I had to cloak and
misdirect the conclusion of my painstaking research: that same-sex marriage should be
legalized. As a BYU employee (a Research Assistant and a Teachers Assistant in two ethics
courses) as well as a resident of BYU-contracted housing, I would likely have been terminated
and evicted in addition to being expelled: but for my intellectual duck-and-weave.

I shared this story with a Yale professor friend of mine at the time, who replied: I was stunned,
Brad, by your report that your degree is in danger... The very idea that students cannot be
admitted to a university unless they promise in advance to advocate only specific institutionallyendorsed moral views seems to me antithetical to the very idea of a university. Nurturing
students capacities for independent critical thinking is the proper mission of a university not
strait-jacketing them into some ideological orthodoxy. For this and other reasons, the American
Association of University Professors maintains Brigham Young University on its Censure List,
where it has remained for over a decade2.
Investigations by the American Association of University Professors of the administrations of
the institutions listed below show that, as evidenced by a past violation, they are not observing
the generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure approved by this
Association, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and more than two
hundred other professional and educational organizations which have endorsed the 1940
Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.
The list contains only administrations which are still under censure (many others have been
removed from the list after improving their practices and procedures).
2 http://www.aaup.org/our-programs/academic-freedom/censure-list

This list is published for the purpose of informing Association members, the profession at large,
and the public that unsatisfactory conditions of academic freedom and tenure have been found
to prevail at these institutions.
My story, unfortunately, is far from unique. LDS students who study Archeology, Linguistics,
Biology, Political Science, Law, Philosophy, Public Administration, and Theology are at particular
risk. LDS officials have made numerous controversial claims related to these fields (young earth
creationism, evolution denial, that same-sex marriage damages the family and society, that the
Book of Mormon is a historically accurate document, that patriarchal governance systems are
better than gender-neutral ones, that Joseph Smith understood and translated ancient Egyptian
documents, and many others). Said one student whose research into these subjects caused a
crisis of faith:
I had a crisis of faith I didnt know who to talk to or who to ask, and if you express
doubt to someone then theyll push back and tell you that you havent prayed enough.
So I was scared to tell anyone what had happened. Its a huge mental strain when you
go into conversations or into class and you cant be totally honest about what you think,
because if you say something that sounds critical of the church, the professor might
bring it down on you, the other students might attack you, your bishop might get
contacted. Its really just scary, because you dont know who you can talk to about what,
if you go too far will they report you or will they not.
This students account is representative of a great many. LDS students who reach different
conclusions than what is taught by the LDS church (or perceived by a particular bishop
to be taught by the LDS church) risk their status as a student because their local
ecclesiastical leaders have the power to withdraw their ecclesiastical endorsement. This
promotes anti-intellectualism and does not allow students to think for themselves, creating
instead a culture of fear and self-censorship.
This conflict is especially sharp for students in a spiritual sense. LDS members are taught to
look to their bishops as counselors, as being inspired of God, and as trusted sources of help.
These are the men these students confess their sins to, and entrust with their deepest and most
personal concerns- yet these are the very men who simultaneously (1) hold student status in
their hands and (2) are committed to students staying believing, obedient LDS members. Many
bishops, understandably, can not and do not endorse a student who is no longer a true
believer. A student who does not realize these facts ignorantly risks her enrollment when she
expresses doubt; she who does realize often loses a needed source of stability and advice,
since she can no longer trust a man whose allegiance to God may cause him to withdraw her
ability to graduate. Instead, she has to hide her doubts even from her roommates, friends,
classmates, professors, and spouse, since any could convey her questioning to her bishop.
Furthermore, the vast majority of BYU officials, including the VP of Student Life and Dean of
Students are also LDS: thus, these officials could lose their jobs as well if their own
ecclesiastical leaders take action against them. Even if a BYU official were to crusade for

academic and intellectual freedom at BYU, he would do so at the risk of his employment at the
least; and at the risk of his social relationships, church status, career, and marriage at the most.
Knowing that almost all school officials are loyal to the LDS Church and invested in their church
standing, students fear to complain or raise their voices to advocate for their own intellectual,
religious, and academic privileges. Those they would raise their voices to are part of the very
institution that censors and punishes students for expressing changes in religious faith, thinking
for themselves, and acting on their research-based conclusions. In sum, the BYU officials
students could otherwise bring their grievances to might retaliate against them either directly, via
the Honor Code office, or by simply contacting the students bishop. Given this risk, the inherent
conflict of interest, and students vulnerability, it is from that perspective perhaps unsurprising
that this violative policy has persisted for so long.
These conflicts of interest, examples, and the structural policy that engender them clearly
demonstrate the inappropriate internal and external influences, pressures, and harassment
wielded by the LDS Church.

Standard Two, Governance Section 23

Standard Two, Governance Section 23 states:
The institution adheres to a clearly defined policy that prohibits conflict of interest on the
part of members of the governing board, administration, faculty, and staff. Even when
supported by or affiliated with social, political, corporate, or religious organizations, the
institution has education as its primary purpose and operates as an academic institution
with appropriate autonomy. If it requires its constituencies to conform to specific codes of
conduct or seeks to instill specific beliefs or world views, it gives clear prior notice of
such codes and/or policies in its publications.
As noted earlier, the Honor Code does not qualify as clear prior notice because it fails to make
clear either of the following crucial pieces:
1. The fact that leaving the faith results in expulsion, termination, and eviction
2. How the determination of eligible for endorsement is made (i.e. the unfettered, unpredictable,
private discretion of your local bishop)
As demonstrated above (see especially section 27 discussion), BYU does not have enough
autonomy from the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints (the legal entity that owns the company that owns the trademark of the LDS Church) or
the LDS Church. The head of both (Thomas Monson) is also the Chairman of the Board of
Trustees for BYU. In fact, the board is entirely composed of top Church officials, who are listed
in BYUs catalog in order of their rank/seniority in the Churchs leadership hierarchy (see
http://registrar.byu.edu/catalog/2014-2015ucat/AdminFaculty/Administration.php and
https://www.lds.org/church/leaders). Moreover, all other BYU decision makers (e.g. VP of
Student Life, Dean of Students, and Honor Code Office Director) are dependent on their local

LDS leaders for both their continuing employment and their good standing in the LDS church.
This results in interference with two primary activities of an academic institution:
1. Determination of student eligibility (e.g., LDS students are expelled for revealing their changes
of religious conscience)
2. Fostering of academic freedom (LDS students express their views on controversial subjects at
the risk of their student status)

Further Evidence of Non-compliance with the Standards

FreeBYU has done a good deal of legwork to document Standard Two violations and address
the clear lack of academic and intellectual freedom for 98 percent of BYU students. FreeBYU
has done so because the students cant organize and advocate for themselves due to the risk of
expulsion, eviction, and termination. To help give them a voice, I will include some short
excerpts from their stories; you can find additional documentation at freebyu.org/profiles.
The following is another example of the culture of fear and lack of intellectual freedom found at
BYU (emphasis added):
[...] I left the church mentally about a year after I came home from my mission, but I had
the problem that I was a BYU student and could never make my new beliefs known. I
had other ex-mormon friends who thankfully made me aware of BYUs policies
concerning those who leave the church, so I knew I had to either leave the school or
keep my new beliefs to myself.
Many critics would say if we no longer believe in the church we should just leave, and
make room for the good Mormons who want to be there. But the unfortunate reality is
that leaving the school is an incredibly difficult thing to do. At BYU were required to
take religion credits that dont transfer to other institutions, so if I had decided to
start my education over somewhere else I would have been set back at least a
year if not more. Family and societal pressures in the LDS community look down on
those that leave the church, so leaving BYU comes with the added outing of yourself
as a non-believer, two very terrifying things to do at the same time.
I chose to keep my beliefs hidden and finish my education at BYU. I had two very
difficult years of hiding my beliefs from friends and family, all because I couldnt risk
being exposed to the institution. I would lose my job (IT for the university), my home
(BYU contracted apartment) and have to restart my education if the university
found out about my new beliefs.
So for two years I pretended to be a believer. I went to church the bare minimum so
they wouldnt notice my absence. I lied to church leaders about my intentions and
beliefs to avoid detections. When asked I prayed in classes so people wouldnt question
my refusal, even if thats what I really desired. It wasnt easy keeping up the charade,

but its something that was necessary for survival. I wont even say its something
Im proud of; I believe honesty is important and I dont like deceiving others.
I graduated this past April, and have since told friends and family about my non-belief.
Im very lucky in how loving and supportive my family has been, and I feel amazing to
now be able to be honest about the person I am. I now study at the University of Utah
and am progressing towards a Masters degree in a field that I love. Life is great and I
find that there is nothing I need to hide about myself as I did at BYU.
BYUs policies kept me from being honest with other people in all instances, and
exercising my rights to choose my religion for myself. Living a double-life is not
easy and it is not good for the mental health of anyone, let alone in a church where
youth often struggle with mental health issues. I hold no resentment to the church at
large, its just not something I choose to have as a part of my life. I do however feel that
BYU creates a toxic environment for people such as myself who need to explore their
A revision of their policies will allow more young people the freedom to determine their
own lives, and I believe ultimately it would help the church keep better relationships with
young adults as a whole. No one should have to lie about their beliefs, and BYU could
improve the lives of hundreds of their students with a simple policy revision.
I support a Free BYU. I support honesty, understanding, and love.
LDS students who undergo a faith transition while attending BYU go through intense pain,
anguish, and fear knowing they could be expelled at any moment simply for exercising their
right to determine their religious beliefs for themselves. As FreeBYU.org put it: This policy
creates a coercive environment in which LDS students cannot honestly evaluate their personal
faith without risking severe disruption to their lives.

Requested Action
I request that the NWCCU take the following actions to rectify this clear breach of standards:
1. Investigate and document BYUs Standard Two violations;
2. Request a visit to the institution by an ad hoc committee of the Commission to review the
situations described;
3. Make this Complaint available to the chair of the evaluation committee for consideration as part
of the next regularly scheduled institutional evaluation;
4. Make recommendations to the institution suggesting areas for improvement including changes
in procedures related to Standard Two;
5. Monitor BYUs compliance with this remediation plan;
6. Publicly sanction BYU with either a Warning, Probation, or Show Cause, as appropriate;
7. Determine that the institution is out of compliance with the Commissions standards for
accreditation and require corrective action by the institution within a specified period of time.

I am aware of your obligations under CFR 602.23(c) (immediately below) and your published
Complaint Process. For your convenience, I consent to email using my address below as the
mechanism for the President acknowledges receipt of the complaint in writing within 15
business days, as well as subsequent written correspondence.
(c) The accrediting agency must
(1) Review in a timely, fair, and equitable manner any complaint it receives against an
accredited institution or program that is related to the agency's standards or procedures.
The agency may not complete its review and make a decision regarding a complaint
unless, in accordance with published procedures, it ensures that the institution or
program has sufficient opportunity to provide a response to the complaint;
(2) Take follow-up action, as necessary, including enforcement action, if necessary,
based on the results of its review; and
(3) Review in a timely, fair, and equitable manner, and apply unbiased judgment to, any
complaints against itself and take follow-up action, as appropriate, based on the results
of its review.


Brad Levin