BYU sent a letter to property owners in May informing them of its intent to create university-approved student housing within condominium complexes.
Approved complexes would honor BYU’s policy on separation of men and women by buildings or wings and would enforce BYU’s Honor Code by contract.
The university requires single students under 25 to live in BYU-approved housing.
Most of approximately 800 condominium owners affected by the policy already comply, but students in about 200 of the units have “exempt” status because the units are family owned. The university will honor the existing exemptions until family members in those units leave or until the units are sold. After that, it will implement the policy.
“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,” says President Rex E. Lee. “That case is on appeal, and we will continue to pursue it vigorously, because it involves a principle of religious freedom.”
Many of the condominiums are like apartments, with owners renting to students, and the university policy regarding them should be like the apartment policy, he said. Many others are owned by families who maintain them for family members.
“We realize this policy will work a hardship on some of the property owners,” said President Lee, “and we are sorry. 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.”
Under BYU’s policy, both the condominium complexes and the individual units will be approved. Approved complexes will be occupied by men or by women.
“Unit owners who purchased units for their own use or as housing for their children will be unaffected by these changes, except that limitations will be placed on rental or housing of non-family members,” stated the letter from the university.