Quid Pro Crow

ASU's president puts the squeeze on freedom of speech to please his biggest donor

Coor did not return a call seeking comment.

Near the end of his 12-year tenure at ASU, according to the former administrator, Coor discussed with the Institute a move from its current location on campus at McAllister and Orange streets -- where it's been now for more than 43 years -- to one on the outer border of the university.

"The university was getting so much bigger, and Coor thought that it would be best just in terms of space if the church wasn't smack-dab in the middle of campus," the former administrator says. "The church took it as, 'Well, apparently we're not wanted here anymore.' And communication between the two parties was cut off.

ASU's Child Study Lab playground might be razed to make way for an LDS parking garage.
Emily Piraino
ASU's Child Study Lab playground might be razed to make way for an LDS parking garage.

"From that point on, there was no love lost between Coor and the church."

The exact opposite could be said for the current administration.

Almost from the outset of his tenure at ASU, Michael Crow has gone the extra mile -- in fact, several hundred extra miles -- to woo the LDS church, and Ira Fulton, specifically. According to a June 23, 2003, story in the Business Journal of Phoenix, Crow met with Fulton four times to secure the homebuilder's $50 million donation to the since-renamed Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

Additionally, Crow made at least one trip to meet with church leaders in Salt Lake City, according to university spokesman Virgil Renzulli. In February 2003, Crow met with Mormon church officials to discuss plans for an expansion of the on-campus LDS Institute of Religion. During that meeting, church leaders also told Crow that "the ASU image as a 'party' school discourages mainstream Mormons," according to the East Valley Tribune.

"President Crow has made it clear that ASU will support faith-based organizations on this campus," Renzulli tells New Times, arguing that Crow is not beholden only to Mormon interests. "He's met with Catholic church leaders, he's met with Hillel [ASU's Jewish student organization]."

But clearly, those meetings have not affected ASU's infrastructure or policy decisions like the relationship Crow has cultivated with the Mormon church.

There's no arguing that Crow has made ASU more LDS-friendly, allowing Fulton's influence, most predominantly, to reach far beyond the engineering school that bears his name.

There's no arguing that Crow has made ASU more LDS-friendly, allowing Fulton's influence, most predominantly, to reach far beyond the engineering school that bears his name.

First, according to one ASU employee who works closely with the administration and requested anonymity for fear of losing her job, and the former administrator who confirmed the employee's statements, it was church leaders' concerns that prompted Crow and his vice president of student affairs, Juan Gonzalez, to institute a campuswide ban on alcohol consumption in all dorms, even for the few students over the age of 21 who live on campus, making ASU essentially a "dry" campus.

Mariposa Hall, meanwhile, just this semester became the university's only "Healthy Living" dormitory -- Crow's response to his meetings with church leaders in Utah, according to the Tribune. To live at Mariposa, students must voluntarily promise, in writing, not to smoke, drink or take illegal drugs.

The Tribune also reported that Mariposa residents must promise not to engage in sexual activity. However, according to Misty Calleroz, the associate director of ASU Residential Life, that's not part of the agreement.

"We'd have no way of policing that," Calleroz says.

How many LDS students live at Mariposa is unknown, but the LDS Institute, on its Web site, www.lds.org/institutes, advertises the dorm as being "basicly [sic] like BYU standards though it is open to all denominations."

In continuing to reestablish rapport with the Institute, Crow, earlier this year, approved a land swap with the church -- allowing the Institute to acquire university property at the child psychology study lab and playground on the northern border of the Institute's property in exchange for church-owned property on Fifth Street in Tempe, according to Nancy Hoth, the director of the Child Study Lab. The City of Tempe Design Review Board approved the expansion plan in September.

The expansion would force the child psychology department to move its playground to the north side of the psychology building, and a number of child psychology offices on the south side of the building would be razed in order to make way for the Institute's four-level parking garage, Hoth says.

But in early September, psychology department officials were worried that ASU had no plans to build a new playground, which would have cost the study lab its accreditation and forced it to shut down. Only after the proposed expansion received negative press (in a September 1 story in the State Press), in the form of disgruntled university employees and concerned parents, did the administration communicate to the department that it would indeed build a new playground, Hoth says.

While D. Hyrum Wright, the director of the Tempe Institute, declined to comment, the negative press apparently has the church rethinking the expansion as well. Randy Hulbert, the director of physical facilities and real estate for the Mormon Church Educational System in Utah, says that, despite both ASU and the City of Tempe's approving the expansion, "There is a proposal, but its funding has not been approved by the church."

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