In Other Ivory Towers

Irene Loewenson

In Other Ivory Towers is the Record’s look at colleges and universities outside the Purple Bubble. 

Syracuse University students protest racism, homophobia

Students at Syracuse University, in protest of racist and homophobic incidents on campus and what they view as an inadequate response from the school, have been occupying an administrative building for over a week. In response, the administration suspended the protestors, although it lifted the suspensions the next day.

On the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 17, around 30 students began a sit-in of Crouse-Hinds Hall, according to NBC News. Spearheading the sit-in is #NotAgainSU, a movement led by black students “protesting the racial incidents that have been occurring on this campus because they are being swept under the rug by administration,” as stated in the group’s Twitter bio. The students called for the resignation of four of the university’s top officials, including the chancellor. 

Since the fall, the campus has faced dozens of incidences of racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia, including slurs, threatening emails and offensive graffiti, according to The Daily Orange, the university’s independent student newspaper.

“Syracuse University administration’s handling of these crimes have been insensitive, lackadaisical and an embarrassment,” #NotAgainSU wrote in a statement on Instagram.

The day after the sit-in began, university officials suspended the protestors, only for the chancellor to lift those suspensions the next day after an outcry from faculty and students alike, according to  The Daily Orange

The university had also mistakenly suspended four students who were not at the protest, but also rescinded those suspensions soon after imposing them. “We regret the error,” said Sarah Scalese, senior associate vice president for university communications, quoted in The Daily Orange.

Brigham Young University removes language banning homosexuality

Brigham Young University in Utah — a private institution owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) — has removed language from its code of conduct that banned behavior expressing “homosexual feeling.”

The university announced changes to its honor code on Wednesday, Feb. 19. While the code previously prohibited “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feeling,” the updated honor code no longer has that clause, according to The Washington Post.

The revision to the university’s code comes under a year after the LDS church changed its position on homosexuality last April. Previously, LGBTQ+ Latter-day Saints would be ex-communicated; the new policy instead declares that they should “feel welcome and part of the great worldwide family that is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The church still bans extramarital sex and considers same-sex marriage a “serious transgression.”

The change to the university’s honor code does not reflect a full acceptance of homosexuality by the university. In alignment with the church’s policy, the honor code still requires that students “live a chaste and virtuous life, including abstaining from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman.” 

In a tweet last Wednesday, university officials noted that “there may have been some miscommunication” surrounding the changes to the honor code.

“Even though we have removed the more prescriptive language, the principles of the Honor Code remain the same,” the university tweeted.