I can’t make up my mind on this one. The University of Utah has released a draft of its new "accommodation policy" that professes to work with students when course requirements conflict with core beliefs.
On the one hand, isn’t part of college experiencing new things? If everytime someone’s offended at something, they can just complain and get out of it, then that strikes me as a bit problematic. No, I’m not talking about experiencing college by waking up hungover with a stranger in your bed. How about experiencing new information? A teacher’s aid at the University of Utah was excoriated by students after using the LDS Church as an example of institutional racism. First, what if the aid was right – students might just learn something about their own religion (shocking, yes). Second, if the aid was wrong, then . . . so what? Unbelievable as it may seem, people have opinions or ideas that are wrong. Can’t Church members stand hearing something they don’t agree with – or will their ears start to bleed?
On the other hand, no one should be forced to do something that violates their moral values (so long as their values in turn don’t violate another’s rights). Just as I object when Latter-day Saints try and force their values on others, I also object when Church members are pressured or mocked because of their moral beliefs. Most often, Mormon values aren’t exactly medieval. So we don’t want to get high or watch other people have sex – is that really too much to ask? But even in cases where I think Latter-day Saints are displaying a shocking amount of hypersensitivity or gross ignorance in their refusal to read, watch, or participate in some activity, I have to admit part of freedom means you get to be hypersensitive or scarily ignorant.
What’s the solution? Do we just make an exception for everyone who doesn’t fit exactly? (Remember the Muslim woman in Florida who refused to remove her burka for a drivers license photo? Kinda makes the whole I.D. thing – which stands for, you know, identification – a bit tough.) Are we as a society doomed to just throw up our hands and say, "Well, they don’t like it, so whadda ya do?" Should people suck it up and put up with stuff once in a while, or is that a slippery slope? Or are people just lousy at picking their battles?