Brigham Young University's student government has temporarily taken the voice out of a campus feminist club, and some are wondering if the organization will ever be the same.
VOICE, BYU's committee to advance the status of women, was told by BYU Student Association president Matt Cowley that the two organizations are to share responsibility for the outcomes of VOICE's ideas until the end of fall semester 1995.During that time, the club's activities, meetings and recruiting will fall under the close supervision of the student government, a move that both sides attribute to the club's recent protest of a February visit by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to the BYU law school moot court competition.
"It seems clear that the BYU administration is only willing to invite to campus those individuals who hold conservative, Republican views," Linda Wilkins, VOICE coordinator, wrote in a letter to the local media Feb. 1.
While Thomas presided over the moot court competition on Feb. 3, Wilkins and 25 other VOICE members displayed a banner stating "Welcome, Clarence Thomas! Now we want to hear from Anita Hill."
Cowley said the decision to discipline VOICE was not a direct result of the club's protest but was attributed to a string of problems since its creation.
"(The Thomas protest) was the straw that broke the camel's back," Cowley said. "From my standpoint, this is not an ideological issue. They have stepped out of the boundaries, because there are certain procedures and expectations a club at BYU should follow."
"VOICE has decided to accept the sanctions and work through them so the club survives, but we felt the decision was tough and right now, we're stuck," said Gail Houston, VOICE adviser. She said they don't disagree with the school's policy but disagreed with how their actions were intrepreted. "We don't feel we broke the rules. We didn't view our protest as disrespectful to Clarence Thomas."