A resolution to exclude Brigham Young University from the Big 12 Conference is a chance for Kansas State student leaders to “stand for inclusion,” Jessica Van Ranken, student body president and senior in political science, said.
“I think it’s very important that we as a Student Governing Association stand for inclusion,” Van Ranken said. “I think this is one way that we can do that in a crucial way.”
The resolution, which was introduced at Thursday’s SGA meeting and will be voted on next week, states that BYU’s “policies openly discriminate against its LGBT students, faculty and staff.”
Because of this, the resolution states, “KSU SGA believes that Brigham Young University’s discriminatory policies and practices are inconsistent with the values of the Big 12 Conference,” and, “KSU SGA does not support BYU’s membership bid to join the Big 12 Conference at this time.”
BYU is one of about a dozen schools that have shown interest in joining the Big 12 if the conference chooses to expand.
Trenton Kennedy, student body vice president and junior in entrepreneurship, introduced the resolution. Because the resolution was not voted on at the meeting, debate was not allowed, but questions were.
In the span of almost 15 minutes, Kennedy fielded a wide range of questions from student senators, including one on how BYU affects K-State students.
Kennedy said BYU should be inclusive to students who visit from other schools, whether for athletics, academics, conferences or other reasons. He said BYU would have an “inconsistency in inclusivity and acceptance” with other Big 12 schools.
“What we really want to talk about is the Big 12 and its values and its commitment to inclusion and acceptance and K-State’s values and its commitment to inclusion and acceptance,” Kennedy said.
Nine of the 10 Big 12 schools have LGBT resource centers, Kennedy said. Baylor is the only one that does not. Baylor’s student honor code does not forbid homosexuality, but it does forbid students from participating in LGBT advocacy groups.
TCU and Baylor are the Big 12’s two private, religious universities. BYU is also a private, religious university.
The resolution states, “The Big 12 Conference policy handbook acknowledges its commitment to ‘cultural diversity, promoting respect and sensitivity to the dignity of every person and fostering participation of all in competition, administration and governance.'”
Van Ranken said she interprets that to also include LGBT individuals.
Michael Reichenberger, senator and graduate student in nuclear engineering, asked why the resolution, if passed, is not planned to be sent to BYU.
“BYU has no choice whether they join the Big 12 or not,” Kennedy said. “They’re in a bid, so it will be decided upon by the Big 12 university presidents. But we’d be more than happy to send them a copy of this resolution.”
Samuel McGee, senator and graduate student in education, asked Kennedy if any of the other candidates for Big 12 expansion had their student honor codes vetted by the resolution’s authors.
Kennedy said he did not know if the other universities had similar potential issues in their honor codes, but added that it might be an area to research further.
The resolution was referred to the Legislative Executive Committee, which will meet Tuesday at 6 p.m. in room 203 of the K-State Student Union.
Kyler Langvardt, sophomore in agricultural communications, was sworn in as a new senator, representing the College of Agriculture.
Jordan DeLoach, SGA chief of staff and senior in computer science, said the possible names for the old Foundation building have been narrowed down to four.
Several student groups also received funding from SGA. The Agriculture Education Club received $800, the Engineers Without Borders $500, the Structural Engineers Association of Kansas and Missouri $500 and the Army ROTC $1,000.
SGA also created an elections committee.