It has been widely reported that BYU and its board of trustees have accepted the request of Vice President Richard Cheney to address BYU’s graduating class on April 26th. Sign this petition encouraging BYU to identify a more appropriate commencement speaker, and refuse Mr. Cheney’s offer to speak.
We are concerned that this action by BYU represents an unvoiced endorsement of one of our nation’s most controversial partisan figures, and serves to undermine the stated position of political neutrality held by BYU’s sponsoring institution, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Dear BYU Family,
As alumni, students, faculty, and friends of Brigham Young University and its sister institutions, we were saddened to learn that BYU and its board of trustees accepted the request of Vice President Richard Cheney to address BYU’s graduating class on April 26th. We are concerned that this action represents an unvoiced endorsement of one of our nation’s most controversial partisan figures, and serves to undermine the stated position of political neutrality held by BYU’s sponsoring institution, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We therefore respectfully request that BYU identify a more appropriate commencement speaker, and refuse Mr. Cheney’s offer to speak. Over the past six years, Vice President Cheney and his office have been the center of great national controversy. During this time, Cheney has made misleading statements about the tragic war which continues in Iraq, levied outrageous partisan accusations against his Democratic opponents, and used vulgarity on the Senate floor. He has been linked to serious scandals involving botched intelligence reports, no-bid contracts awarded to friends and political donors, and perjury convictions handed down to his own staff. Mr. Cheney is simply not the type of role model to whom we wish to bestow the responsibility of addressing our best and brightest as they “go forth to serve”.
Today more than ever, the LDS church and its educational institutions have come under unwarranted criticism for close links to Republican political interests. Recently, faculty members in BYU’s own Marriott School of Business attracted national attention for using their professional positions to endorse and fundraise for Republican Mitt Romney’s bid for the White House. While the individuals involved in the situation were appropriately reprimanded, some spectators have erroneously concluded that the LDS Church privately endorses Republican political candidates, while maintaining an official, public position of political neutrality. Mr. Cheney's visit will do nothing to dispel that misconception. In fact, it will serve only as a troubling and untimely reminder of the dominant political influence that his party has on politics in Utah, and will be viewed by many as a tacit endorsement of the Vice President’s party, and its policies.
For these reasons, we humbly request that Mr. Cheney not be permitted to use the BYU commencement ceremony as a platform for his controversial political agenda. We further request that if the board upholds their decision to allow Mr. Cheney to speak, that a prominent national Democrat be invited to speak at an similar university-wide event.