Deseret News, Wednesday, December 18, 2002
By Jeffrey P. Haney
Deseret News staff writer
PROVO — Brigham Young University has raised the red flag on the use of
real-to-life Hollywood flicks to illustrate historical events.
Professors at BYU this semester started following a policy that
discourages showing R-rated movies in classes at the school owned by the
LDS Church, whose members are counseled by top church leaders to avoid
films with excessive gore, violence, profanity or nudity.
The guideline — created to set boundaries for visual and literary
materials used in class — says faculty should not "require students to
view unedited R-rated movies, as a matter not simply of content but of
obedience to prophetic counsel."
The two-page statement urges professors to pick films, books, poems,
paintings, music and sculptures that are "appropriate to BYU's mission
and teach them in ways that invite the spirit of God into the
"It is important to help students not only to understand the world but
to stand firm against its evils — prepared to respond to its challenges
with love, testimony, wisdom, eloquence and inspired artistry of their
own," the policy says.
BYU spokeswoman Carri P. Jenkins said, to her knowledge, faculty won't
be disciplined if they don't adhere to the guidelines.
The selection of visual and literary materials "will depend on the
wisdom of the faculty," said Jenkins.
But BYU's guideline tells departments to "counsel" with professors who
"repeatedly choose inappropriate materials or who present materials in
Students who object to material being used in class on moral grounds can
ask to be given another assignment. If the professor declines, the
student can take up the matter with the chairman of the academic
department and college dean.
"With this, there's a lot of invitation for discussion," said John S.
Tanner, chairman of BYU's English department.
Tanner, who helped cobble the guideline together using input from
faculty meetings and previous policies used in the College of
Humanities, said he hasn't received any feedback — for or against — on
BYU bosses say the guideline will be reviewed in two years.
Questions about classroom use of films that had been edited for content
swirled after BYU's Varsity Theater stopped showing edited versions of
R-rated movies in 1998.
BYU's decision not to book edited and airline versions of R-rated movies
came after an American Fork movie theater came under legal fire for
snipping scenes from "Titanic."
Controversy also enveloped nudity-sensitive BYU in 1997 when officials
opted not to show four nude statues in an exhibit of works by French
sculptor Francois-Auguste-Rene Rodin.
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