ON Kilter: Dixie State, is this the Top 10 you want to be in?

Indigo Klabanoff | Klabanoff photo from YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1Mlxl9vpVE, Image composite St. George News

OPINION – My friend, Cole Hulse, posted on his Facebook: “Behold, the only time Dixie will ever be in a Top Ten list with Harvard,” referring to a report published by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, simultaneously published with The Huffington Post College Blog, naming The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech. Dixie State University achieved an ignoble notable No. 4 spot on the list. And so I ask, is this who you want to be DSU?

At the heart of FIRE’s ranking is the current and ongoing fight university senior Indigo Klabanoff is engaged in to be allowed her First Amendment right of freedom of expression and association. The battle turns on her desire to name her club Phi Beta Pi – objectionable to the university’s administration for its use of Greek letters.

The lengths to which the administration is willing to go, on the record, to thwart Klabanoff’s rights are curiously intentional.

As the FIRE report states, “after … Klabanoff pointed out to administrators that Dixie State didn’t actually have a policy prohibiting groups with Greek letters in their names, the school went so far as to retroactively amend its policies to prohibit them.”

There are still, in fact, a number of clubs sanctioned by Dixie State that have names bearing Greek letters. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Dean of Students Del Beatty said the council decided only honors clubs could use Greek letters because “this is not something we want to fight right now. It’s not worth the fight. We have bigger things to do right now.”

And yet, when administrators recognized that their policies did not support their unlawful position against Klabanoff’s club, rather than correct their error and permit the club, they merely changed policy on the fly to prohibit Greek letters. Curiously, they did not impose that policy on other clubs.

FIRE’s article goes on to say, “throughout the numerous attempts Phi Beta Pi made to gain recognition, Dixie State has displayed a striking immunity to basic constitutional principles.”

Despite clear evidence and case law to support Klabanoff and her club, DSU is, as the Dean of Students Del Beatty has said, digging its heels in.

In the Dixie Sun, the school’s own newspaper, Emily Bills wrote on Nov. 7:

Beatty said the media’s attention has had the reverse affect that Klabanoff hoped for.

‘It’s just more of a nuisance than anything else,’ Beatty said. ‘I personally feel like it makes (administration) want to dig their heels in the ground even more.’

What an interesting idiom Beatty chose to use, an image that derives from a jackass digging in its heels and refusing to be led in a direction he doesn’t want to go – right, wrong or indifferent.

Such stubbornness. And at what cost?

“There is still time before the end of year for Dixie State to show it respects and trusts its students by recognizing Phi Beta Pi,” the FIRE  wrote in its “10 Worst” article. Is this a warning to the school?

Litigation seems inevitable.

In reflecting on current events locally and in Utah, it can’t help but come to mind that the City of St. George is facing a lawsuit involving numerous Fourth and 14th Amendment violations by the city’s code enforcement division and administrative court. Although premised differently, the two cases bear a resemblance.

Both offending entities, the city and the university, are public ones. They are charged with the public’s trust and by that very charge they have a different standard of accountability than, say, a private institution might have.

At the very least, in both cases it appears that somehow these entities think that some version of a majority vote within their own rank and file validates their outright perversion of the law and permits them to run roughshod over people’s rights.

In the case of Dixie State, reports and allegations of sweeping civil rights infringements made carte blanche by certain members of its administration are a blight on the integrity of the school as a whole. I would argue that blight extends to the state system of higher education and to the community in which the school sits.

DSU is off to a poor start in being recognized as a reputable university-level institution.

How many other similar situations have taken place whereby the university has gotten away with normalcy bias? In plain speak, that is, how many times has it persisted without accountability or constraint to constitutional considerations because “this is the way we’ve always done it.”

Suffice it to say, given the recent prevalence of lawsuits and rulings in the local and state arena, people are taking note and offense to being subjected to whimsical volitions of people who are entrusted with authority. And they are standing up, and resisting, and using the law to seek out and exact justice.

For the sake of the reputation and integrity of Dixie State, there must be above all respect and adherence to the laws of this land.

There are few things as important as respecting civil and individual rights. These ideas and freedoms are woven into the fabric of our nation’s constitution and cannot be excised from our own forums. If civil and personal rights are disregarded, when and where will the over-governance stop?

It is said that the first step to fixing a problem is to identify it.

Violation of individual rights perpetrated by an institution of higher learning should never happen. The very nature of a university calls for a conducive and free market of ideas to be exchanged and upheld.

I have said this before and it remains a mystery to me that academia locally remains silent and capitulates to DSU’s antics; when the academics will not stand up for a just cause, something is gravely wrong.

This case is not going away DSU and state regents. Best start dealing with it from a mature, legitimate, and legal vantage point lest you render yourself on the world stage of academia as irrelevant.

See you out there.

Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


See you out there.



Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Indigo Klabanoff | Klabanoff photo from YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1Mlxl9vpVE, Image composite St. George News
Indigo Klabanoff | Klabanoff photo from YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1Mlxl9vpVE, Image composite St. George News

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  • Bev Lowe December 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm


  • Harveyn December 28, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Phi Beta Pi is a national medical fraternity and cannot be used otherwise. I contacted the gal several months ago and she did not respond. Many things are patented and cannot be used so I wonder what her problem really is. BYU does not have social fraternities but I know they used to have some underground sororities (Tri Chillas) that at one time (60s) they were hoping to integrate with Delta Delta Delta. BYU does have National Honor Fraternities on campus. I think whoever read wrote this article was way misinformed.

    • Dallas Hyland December 28, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      The information in this article is well sourced by interviews, articles, emails by all the people reported in it, as well as constitutional and case law. If you have any information that is legitiamate, credible, and verifiable, please contact me at [email protected]. I would love to interview you on or off the record and learn what you espouse to know here.

      By the way, BYU is a private institution. DSU is not.

      • bbbrrrccc December 28, 2013 at 5:47 pm

        Dallas, has it ever occurred to you the majority of this community supports the stance of the university on this issue. Great job Dixie! Stick with the good morals that make this such a great place to live.

        • DSUstudent December 28, 2013 at 6:52 pm

          I wish I could say that Dixie was standing up for the morals and the community that founded her but it’s not. I got my associates from them 15 years ago (or perhaps slightly more) and returned a couple of years ago to work on a Bachelors and I can tell you this school is not community minded, is in a rush to be as vapid as other universities, and would rather placate people from other states and countries (they’ll do anything to attract them and keep them here believe me) than help the community or even it’s own returning students. There’s a lot going on at Dixie that would make your head spin, a lot of ugly stuff from the top down. If I didn’t need the degree to help support my very young family I’d leave in a heartbeat and I’m not alone there.

          • Dallas Hyland December 28, 2013 at 7:22 pm

            Please contact me at [email protected]

          • Simone January 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm

            Auf Wiedersehen, dann

        • Dallas Hyland December 28, 2013 at 9:29 pm

          Dear bbbrrrcc,

          Yes, it occurred to me that the majority of this community supports this and sees nothing wrong with it.

          • elliemae100 December 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm

            Not sure why someone would say that “majority of the community supports” anything in particular unless there were an actual head count. The truth is that many people disagree with DSU’s acting like a church-affiliated institution. We didn’t have a huge turnout in the past election, each of us doesn’t write letters to the editor presuming to speak for all and we don’t all act as a cohesive group in any instance. St. George and the surrounding areas consist of many people from diverse backgrounds who are able to think for themselves and certainly don’t need an anonymous poster on the internet to presume what we all may think and what we believe to be “good morals.”
            – Yay, Dixie, we’ve made the top ten list for restriction of free speech. I speak for myself when I say that it’s embarrassing to hold that distinction – but if it makes bbbrrrccc proud you should put a sign on your garage that says so. You have the right to free speech – as long as you’re not trying to do so on the college campus.

    • Former Student December 29, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      If BYU is the benchmark for what’s acceptable, then we are all in trouble.

  • JamesB December 28, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Dallas. Well written article. I enjoy your point of view although I usually don’t agree. But as you say, if we all agreed all of the time it would be rather vanilla. I love your articles when you make your case without calling names and making put downs. Good job, keep up the good work. I look forward to your well written points in the future.

    • Dallas Hyland December 28, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      Your comment on my last piece lingered in my mind when I penned this one. I took it as something worth aspiring to. Thanks for reading.

  • cccciiiii December 28, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Oh yes. If you have an axe to grind contact Dallas. Then he can spew more hate and controversy. For once I would like to see him present solutions to the “problems” he brings to light.

    • Dallas Hyland December 29, 2013 at 8:13 am

      cccciiiiii, (interesting name btw. what does it mean?)

      The solution to this particular problem I have reported on and opined on is the civil rights lawsuit DSU will inevitably face. And, dear reader, the solution also depends on you, the citizen. It should compel you to research what has been reported, determine its validity, and act upon it. Becoming more informed and taking said information and putting it to use. This is what the Founders had in mind for the purpose of the First Amendment and a free press. It keeps a set of checks and balances outside of instituted power for the purpose of protecting our union. You can vote. You can contact elected and appointed officials and express support or desire for change. See how this works? Being a citizen is a privilege and can be really fun and rewarding. I encourage you to try it.

      Thank you for reading.

      • Tracie December 29, 2013 at 5:07 pm

        At least Mr. Hyland grinds his axes under his real name and doesn’t hide behind a pseudonym.

  • JamesB December 29, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Dallas. I would love to read your opinion on the smoking ban at Dixie including what you think about the part that says you can’t smoke in your private vehicle.

  • Aaron December 29, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Apparently the college believes it can violate the right to assemble by violating free speech. It cannot keep an organization off campus, so it will suspend free speech, banning its name, thereby keeping it off campus. Who thinks stuff up? Public universities are required to allow student organizations on campus. It’s called freedom of assembly, it’s found in the the bill of rights, that document we all cite to and nobody has read, right next to freedom of speech. The University can set student organization by laws requiring obedience to the laws. It cannot tell the young republicans you are in, then tell the kkk you are out. That violates freedom of assembly. Recognizing it would be illegal to keep the organization out, as it complies with all by laws, the college amended it’s by laws banning the entire Greek alphabet. Really? It is now illegal to use the Greek alphabet? How stupid are the people at the college? Two wrongs don’t make a right, they simply compound the error. Violating free speech to justify violating freedom of assembly is illegal. Aaron Prisbrey

  • Gabbie Holbrook December 29, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    As a student of Dixie State University and (was up until a couple months ago) Vice President of Phi Beta Pi I can honesty tell everyone that DSU is a great school to attend and this club was a fantastic inspiring idea turned into a joke, fast. Phi Beta Pi turned quickly turned into a club thriving solely on attention of the media by a bunch of girls who had no idea what they were actually fighting for. As a starter of this club I can confidently state that Dixie was realist and fair regarding our club. Most of the claims made by Dixie State Univeristy were taking out if context regarding this specific scenario. I support what the club was tryin to do but in the end because of the actions of its leaders,it truly hurt itself and the school it “supposedly” supports more then anything else.

    • Dallas Hyland December 29, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Thanks for the informative comment Gabbie. What I think you and others a wholesomely failing to recognize or acknowledge is that there are now several attorneys who find the actions of the college remarkably illegal. You and others who espouse this is much adieu about nothing either know something they do not or you are painfully naive. Time will tell. Thank you for reading.

      • Anon December 31, 2013 at 3:30 pm

        Why do you have to be so rude to the people that comment on your editorials? You have a right to your opinion. So does everyone else. Calling someone ‘naive’ just because they disagree with you shows how close-minded you really are. I also find it creepy that you want people who commented on this editorial to contact you. To be honest, I find your editorials on this subject to be very obsessive. Its disturbing.

        • Perry January 1, 2014 at 11:33 pm

          Yes Anon, and this guy is getting worse with time. He has a vendetta against the community, the LDS church, and the local University. Having issues with them isn’t is bad in and of itself, but his verbage toward them is aggressive in tone. He’s even growing condescendingly cheap in his approach to readers who disagree with him.
          One of the young women in the sorority comments from first hand experience how professional and clear the University was in the situation, and he has the audacity to call her naive when she was involved in the actual debate? I’m offended for her.
          This isn’t journalism, STG News. You should reconsider, as his behavior is reflected upon the publication. The owner and editor are responsible for allowing this kind of behavior.
          Political commentary is important, and it is welcome from the left. But this guy is a narcissistic bully.

          • Just and Observer January 3, 2014 at 6:35 am


            This is a categorically false and vicious attack. There is no evidence to support your claim of a vendetta against anyone. And if the word naive offends you, you might want to consider staying our of political commentary. Hyland wrote a solid piece and addressed commenters who evaded the content of the piece to gloss over the facts. It is common in this area and culture for people to dismiss someone as a “hater” when they do not have a reasonable or intelligent response. The bully here is the trolling anonymous commenter who is clearly trying to tell a publication to get rid of someone they don’t like for what appears to be a personal vendetta as well. Grow up Perry. This is a news site, not a high school blog.

          • Dallas Hyland January 3, 2014 at 6:28 pm

            Perry who?

          • Just an Observer January 3, 2014 at 7:27 pm


            Well, if I am his mother you are definitely his disgruntled girlfriend:) Let me guess, can’t get published anywhere accept as a trolling blogger?

            Naive-having or showing a lack of experience or knowledge : innocent or simple

            If you can give a rational explanation as to the egregiousness of this word in the context he used it, I am sure a few readers here would like to see it.

            The fact is, you have not offered a single refutation to the article itself or any other I have seen you comment on and it smacks of something resembling a vendetta. Ad hominem can be a useful and sometimes fun tool in discourse, but yours is inflammatory for its own sake. We see the most in others what we despise most in ourselves perhaps?

            Hyland is an established, credible writer. It will take more than name calling or idle threats to the publication to change that I’d wager.

        • Just and Observer January 3, 2014 at 6:28 am


          I fail to see the rudeness here. What the writer appears to be saying to some commenters here is really quite simple. He is asking them to consider the story, and the case based on merit. Ms. Holbrook smeared the name of the club and its members and asserted the college was guilty of nothing but being misunderstood. If the facts of Hyland’s article contradict this, he is fair in saying she and others know something and should come forth, or they are choosing to ignore those things all together. If that is the case, he was being generous in calling it naive. Asking a commenter to contact him at the news site is not creepy, it is professional. He appears to be interested in learning the truth and following up on the story like a reporter does. Your ad hominem is see through leaving one to wonder, do you have anything of value to say or are you just attacking the write over a creepy personal vendetta? Now that would be disturbing.

          • Perry January 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm

            Holbrook did the smearing? Wow.
            Observer, are you his mother or something? Whenever i express concerns about his writing and lack of professionalism, you fly in with your cape to his rescue. i can’t imagine anyone actually being trained as a journalist and doing what he does. He lacks the basic skills on reporting with clarity. It looks likes he’s chronically pronouncing sentences at everyone, old west style.
            I totally agree with what you wrote to Anon that you “fail to see [Hyland’s] rudeness.” That is your failing, not the handfuls of readers who are sick of what this guy is doing to the image of the publication.
            His “opinion” pieces are meant to smear, and your job is to strategically smear commentators who are sick of his lack of detail in his sweeping, harsh claims. If you and he are going to throw mud at everyone and everything, don’t cry when you get some back in your eyes.
            This guy is Abigail Williams, and his approach to journalism needs to be seriously questioned.

  • Ihatesg December 29, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    When are you guys going to realize that Dixie along with st George sucks …?
    Ed. ellipsis

  • Dallas Hyland December 30, 2013 at 8:48 am


    Those who read my column regularly would note that I rarely respond in the comments section. I make exceptions to address outright accusations or clarify misunderstandings. In this case, it is an issue very near to me and everyone else for that matter. It is interesting to me that even my staunchest adversaries as well as advocates and I find common ground when we speak of matters of our liberties and how they are being systematically dismantled before our very eyes. How we cannot imagine turning this country over to our children in the surveillance minded, fear driven, policed state our government is creating with largely our permission through our apathy and ignorance.

    The case at DSU, and more like it which are soon to come to light, reveal something that is most ugly about human nature. Which is that power all too often corrupts and when it does, the individual suffers. It confounds me that this is not clearer to everyone involved. That people see this as an affront to their school as if somehow the school itself was exempt from this conversation. In point of fact, a university should be the place where the highest standards of our laws are taught, upheld, and exemplified. When we stand idly by and allow someone’s liberty to be eviscerated, even if it is to remove from our sight what we perceive to be the unsavory but legal thing they are doing, we open the door for the very same machinations to be exacted upon us at a later date. We sell out so to speak, and the powerful unjustly win – which ultimately, costs us everything.
    We see this happening at the federal and local level. How is it we are blind to see it happening at a university?

    The comments oddly enough, are quite telling of the temperature and mindset of this community. Sadly, in this case what it tells is not something to be proud of at all. It says it is proud to be on the top ten list of the most egregious offenders of one of our core rights as citizens in this country. And it says this community is unwilling to look at itself honestly and align itself to a right and just way on its own. Rather, as with so many other examples, this community will need a court to tell it how wrong it is and order it abide law rather than have the integrity and courage of conviction to do it on its own.

    See you out there

  • GAPeach December 30, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I find this to be very interesting. What’s the first step someone can take to help get Dixie off The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech and help the sorority?

  • Craig December 30, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    I must be getting soft in the head….I’m agreeing w/Dallas.

  • Adrian December 30, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Dallas responds: “The comments oddly enough, are quite telling of the temperature and mindset of this community.”

    No, Dallas, the comments are telling of the people who wrote the comments. To extend them to the entire community makes no sense, is illogical and just shows where YOUR head is at.

    Harvard is on the list. That’s pretty good company.

    Why don’t you write about the stone-cold sober list?

    • Dallas Hyland December 31, 2013 at 9:55 am


      Fair enough. It was a broad stroke.

      Now, admittance of nothing, denial of everything, and counter accusations aside, would you like to at least weigh in with your opinion on the topic of the article? Or are you perhaps beholden to the temperature and mindset of which I spoke?

      Honest question.

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