Same panel, new name

Organizing a forum on academic freedom has been a lesson in free speech for junior Jared Kubly.

Kubly, who works in the Presenter’s Office of the student government, had initially planned on hosting a forum called “Banned at BYU” in early September, but the event was cancelled after Associated Students of the University of Utah leaders feared it could be too offensive.

The “Banned at BYU” event would have featured a handful of former professors from Brigham Young University, a private school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints, to talk about their experiences with censorship.

A panel discussion with an almost identical roster of speakers is being hosted on campus tonight. The panel, titled, “Academic Freedom,” features one U professor and three BYU professors who were asked to speak at the “Banned at BYU” event.

After the “Banned at BYU” event was cancelled, Kubly said he was told to shift the focus of the forum from BYU to academic freedom in general.

Kubly said he was told to come up with a less offensive name for the forum and to find professors from a variety of schools to speak.

“I told them I didn’t think it was right, but it’s their decision ultimately,” Kubly told The Chronicle in September. “We could rename it ‘Banned at the U of U,’ I guess.”

Despite his disappointment, Kubly changed the name of the event to simply “Academic Freedom,” and began what he called a difficult search to find more professors for the panel.

But after a month of searching, Kubly had only found one additional professor to speak on the panel alongside the former BYU faculty members.

He said professors from other religious schools were simply not interested in the panel and that U faculty members were unavailable.

Although the panel is still composed primarily of former BYU faculty, ASUU leaders said they gave Kubly permission to still hold the event.

“I know (Kubly) tried so hard to get professors from all over the map,” said Toby Collett, ASUU vice president.

Collett said the event was always supposed to be about academic freedom at all universities-not just BYU.

Kyle Hansen, ASUU Presenter’s Office director, said the event will not be about BYU alone.

“I know the way the questions are phrased-it won’t just focus (on BYU),” Hansen said.

Kubly said that, while having to alter an event about academic freedom was “ironic,” he thinks students will find the discussion enjoyable.

“They might come expecting a BYU bash,” Kubly said. “(But) none of the panelists have expressed any ill feelings (toward BYU)-I think they’re all mature and level-headed.”