Brigham Young University plans to create university-approved student housing within condominium complexes, says school President Rex E. Lee.
The university sent letters on Friday to condominium owners informing them of the school's intent.The LDS Church-owned school requires single students younger than 25 to live in single-sex buildings on campus and in separate, privately owned apartment complexes off campus.
BYU's Residential Living Standards also prohibit the consumption of alcohol and coffee, smoking, immodest dress and other conduct proscribed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The landlords agree to apply those standards in order to be certified by BYU as off-campus housing providers.
The housing procedures were upheld earlier this year by U.S. District Judge David K. Winder, who denied a request by the Utah American Civil Liberties Union that private, off-campus apartment owners stop enforcing the school's dormitory housing rules.
The ACLU argued that by adopting the policies, private apartment owners were violating federal fair housing laws prohibiting discrimination. But Winder ruled that the rules had been reviewed and found legal by the federal departments of Justice and Educa-tion.
"We have invested a great deal of effort in successfully arguing a district court case that recently reaffirmed our right to separate men and women in off-campus apartments," Lee said.
"That case is on appeal, and we will continue to pursue it vigorously because it involves a principle of religious freedom," he said.
ACLU attorney Jensie Anderson maintains that the practice violates federal laws and plans to address both condominium and apartment property owners in appealing Win-der's decision.
"The regulations to become a BYU-approved condominium are very similar to those for apartments," she said.
BYU is not a defendant in the lawsuit but was allowed to intervene on behalf of the off-campus land-lords.
Anderson said several condominium owners have expressed dismay about the school's plans to expand the policy.
"They aren't really happy about it,' she said. "It's the additional regulations, and it certainly places a burden on them that wasn't there before."
Lee said that most of the area's some 800 condominium owners affected by the policy already are in compliance, but students in about 200 of the units are exempt. The university will honor the existing exemptions until family members in those units leave or until the units are sold.
"We realize this policy will work a hardship on some of the property owners, and we're sorry," Lee said. "But we feel it is necessary to maintain the legal and practical consistency of our longstanding practice of separating single men and women in BYU housing units."