BYU and the Honor Code

February 22, 2008
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As a current BYU student, I am bound by the “honor code,” a document that all students are required to sign in order to enroll. (Link here) While BYU has stressed the importance of a wholesome environment since the Karl Mäser days, it wasn’t until the 1940′s that an official document was drafted, primarily with the goal of promoting academic honesty and curbing cheating on campus. At the time, it was sponsored by more or less a student club, but apparently it was successful enough that President Wilkinson saw fit to officially adopt it, and eventually it became applied more broadly, and its scope expanded to include regulations regarding chastity, ecclesiastical endorsement, dress, grooming, curfews, and substance consumption. Today the honor code is an intrinsic element of the BYU community, and all those who attend or are employed by BYU are expected to abide by it.

I have actually never had any major personal qualms with abiding by the honor code itself. I think that I naturally fit the BYU mold close enough that I haven’t felt my corners get rubbed off by any restrictions or regulations. However, I have had associations with many who have not shared my experience.

I hope to take this chance to analyze the pro and cons of the honor code, and examine its effect on the BYU, and even LDS community at large.

The Church, and BYU as its representative, is increasingly image conscious. Projecting a wholesome image to the world is of tremendous importance, and in that regard, I believe the honor code is successful in doing so. I currently work at the BYU International Studies Center, where we regularly host scholars, ambassadors, and other dignitaries who speak to us from abroad. More often than not, as they make their tours throughout campus, they take notice of the atmosphere, and are very impressed by the modest demeanor of the women and the trim look of the men. BYU has in fact gained a strongly positive reputation in the international academic and diplomatic community, and is reportedly the talk of the town when all the foreign ambassadors gather in Washington to compare travel logs.

Likewise, BYU is a hot spot for corporate recruiters: representatives come from companies looking to recruit, and at BYU they find a wholesome, clean cut, value oriented pool to choose from. Year after year, BYU grads get job from employers who see BYU as a gold mine for hard working, honest, and upright students. The honor code could well be attributed as the driving force behind this image.

In many ways, I feel that I have the same personal goals as that stated mission of the honor code, to “provide an education in an atmosphere consistent with the ideals and principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” However, I do see principled disconnect when I consider that an institution feels the needs to uphold its moral principles (many of which are grounded in personal agency and liberty) by enforcing legislation that leads to compulsion or ultimatums.

Last week was “Honor Week” on campus. One of the events involved students submitting honor-code-promoting videos to the “Honor Oscars” (or something like that,) and the winning video would be shown the freshman at new student orientation in the fall. I saw a TV news spot about this where a finalist was interviewed and asked about the honor code. He said something to the effect of “…the honor code is important…it keeps us doing what we should.”

This is fairly representative of most pro-honor-code arguments; the emphasis of the argument praises the virtues it encompasses, and concludes with a “and the honor code maintains these great things, why would you be against it?”

The fatal flaw that I see in all these arguments is the implication that if the honor code didn’t exist, everyone would degenerate into lying, stealing, cheating, drug dealing, chain smoking, liquor swilling, promiscuous counter-culturists. If the honor code’s existence is justified by the fact that is it instills virtues, then the argument only holds ground if infact those virtues would be absent in the community were it not for the honor code. If that is true, then this argument is a terribly grim commentary about the community who at once wishes to be defined as adherents of the gospel of Jesus of Christ, but somehow feels it needs require a compulsory list of rules to maintain those morals. My understanding of Jesus Christ’s gospel includes the idea that obedience must be completely voluntary in order to produce its indented outcome. (Moro. 7: 6, 9)

Much more could be said about the honor code. On one side it helps in projecting a wholesome image to the world, and provides additional incentives for those who otherwise have no moral foundation to behave well. But on the other hand, it introduces a pharasitical framework of hedges around the law for the community to follow, which ultimately leads to “looking beyond the mark.” I am convinced that the pressures of conformity to the honor code more often than not lead to hypocrisy rather than righteousness.

Again, summarizing my stand on the issue, I am fully in favor of promoting wholesomeness and virtue on campus, but I find it somewhat saddening and unfortunate that a community that prides itself on inherent virtues and strong morals feels the need to establish mandatory legislation to enforce something it apparently already claims.

I suppose in the end, it’s up to the BYU administration to carry out the cost-benefit analysis of the two sides, and from the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like the honor code will be going anywhere anytime soon.

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  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen Marsh

    .if the honor code didn’t exist, everyone would degenerate into enough off-notes to reduce the appearance by 5% to 10% off the current standard, which is enough of an off note that it would reduce 50% or more of the value of the ambiance.

    You’ve just explained brand protection and brought up how easy it is to erode. Think of FIAT. For a long time, Europe’s number one car maker, they blew their entry into the United States by letting quality slip just a little on their USA product lines.

    Not to mention, a code gives a ready enforcement tool and creates cultural norming with less abrasiveness in conformity. Probably adds 15% to the value of the degree a normal kid receives at BYU, if not more.

  • Steve M

    One of the downsides that I see in the Honor Code is the heavy emphasis that it places on non-academic standards, such as grooming, dress, and chastity. Often this focus is to the neglect of such issues as academic honesty. When I was at the Y, nonconformity with, say, grooming standards marked you as a social pariah, whereas questionable behavior in the area of academics was less taboo. In fact, I had one roommate who blatantly cheated on his take-home, closed-book quizzes (why BYU professors even assign those is beyond me). While my observations are only anecdotal, from what I gathered, such instances of cheating were by no means isolated.

    At my current institution, there is likewise a heavy emphasis on the Honor Code. However, the Honor Code here deals almost exclusively with academic integrity. Students take this Honor Code much more seriously than many BYU students take the academic provisions of their Code.

    In my opinion, the provisions of the BYU Honor Code that deal with non-academic behavior should be removed and left to the jurisdiction of church leaders. If a student is fornicating, then let him it up with his bishop, not BYU. I’m not comfortable with the intermingling of private morality with academic standing (except, of course, in cases of necessary overlap, such as academic dishonesty).

    As for the grooming standards, I think they’re the silliest part of the Honor Code. The only rationale for them is to create a clean-cut, socially conservative aura around the campus.

  • http://theuttermeaninglessnessofeverything.blogspot.com/ dpc

    However, the Honor Code here deals almost exclusively with academic integrity. Students take this Honor Code much more seriously than many BYU students take the academic provisions of their Code.

    Steve M,

    You’re at law school, so honoring the Code has long-term career implications. If you’re caught cheating or plagiarizing, it may mean that you aren’t eligible for bar membership. People still cheat though. They just make sure they don’t do it as openly as some people do in undergrad.

  • http://www.kiva.org/lender/annekate7762 Tatiana

    As a convert I find the social conformity requirements of Mormonism oppressive even while I fully embrace the moral requirements of the restored gospel. I haven’t attended BYU but I agree wholeheartedly that the grooming and dress standards would best be dropped even while the requirements for honesty (academic and otherwise), chastity, and other moral standards should be more heavily emphasized.

    We Latter Day Saints have to consciously reject a pharisaical approach to morality which human nature makes it so easy for us to fall back on. We have strong tendencies in our culture toward shibboleths and conformity, and it’s a major way that the devil erodes our faith from within and creates a less welcoming environment for converts. I would love to feel more encouragement from church leadership for all of us in the church to focus less on appearances and more on substance, less on noticing each other’s outer differences and more on loving and supporting and guiding one another’s inner spirits.

  • Carlos

    Interesting. Although I’d say that the ‘Church, and BYU as its representative, is increasingly’ obsessive with its image.

    Hopefully the honour code does what you say it does here, but there’s surely a fine line between positively helping an institutions image and going too far to actually limiting individual freedoms.

  • John Hamer

    The Honor Code isn’t just killing BYU, it’s killing the LDS church.

    The Honor Code is at the core of why the LDS church experienced massive real growth in the 1960s and why it’s barely treading water in the 2000s and why it will be in decline by the 2020s.

    The explosion of the counter culture in the 1960s masked the fact that the majority longed for stability. In a period when rapid change seemed to be fraying the fabric of society, the enforced social conformity of the LDS church provided a rock of stability for many who feared they would be caught up in the storm. In the late 1960s, when Berkeley and Ann Arbor seemed to devolve into chaotic social anarchy, the fact that BYU seemed to have held onto the social conformity of the mid-1950s made it stand out as an appealing market differentiator.

    Unfortunately for BYU and the LDS church, the1960s are over. The fact that BYU is locked into the mid-1950s today isn’t an appealing market differentiator — put kindly, it’s freakish.

    Walking around BYU’s campus may impress a certain brand of foreign dignitary, but for normal observers, it’s like walking into the Twilight Zone. If there’s one thing that gives non-members the impression that the LDS church is a cult, it’s the mindless and valueless conformity of appearance that the Honor Code enforces. This, coupled with the regulations of missionary appearance and the appearance of LDS employees and leaders set the tone for the entire membership. And to outside observers who see a people apparently stuck in the 1950s, that tone is: “I am a member of a cult.”

    We often walk across the thriving campus of the University of Michigan here in Ann Arbor. One day when it was lightly raining and students were hurrying across the diag, we saw two sister missionaries huddled together under an umbrella. Their eyes sadly looked at the students passing them by, wanting someone to stop and talk to them. But their costumes set them apart as aliens. Here they were, wearing blowses and floor length skirts. Any person in the real world passing them by couldn’t help but think they were either selling membership in a cult (or possibly that they were Amish — “and wouldn’t you like to be Amish with us?”)

    Inasmuch as it may have been in decades past, non-conformity to 1950s standards of appearance is no longer a perceived social ill. The reason why non-denominational big box Christian churches are having phenomenal success with youth outreach is because they aren’t locked into a game plan that was written 50 years ago. They aren’t afraid of girls wearing jeans and guys with long hair. They’ve adapted as society has evolved. Meanwhile, the LDS church’s response to cultural evolution has been to ossify and fossilize — and the Honor Code bears much of the blame.

  • Steve M

    You’re at law school, so honoring the Code has long-term career implications. If you’re caught cheating or plagiarizing, it may mean that you aren’t eligible for bar membership. People still cheat though. They just make sure they don’t do it as openly as some people do in undergrad.

    I agree. There will always be some cheating. And the career implications are definitely a relevant consideration. So to some extent, I may be comparing apples to oranges in comparing my BYU undergrad experience with my non-BYU law school experience. However, I was still struck at how seriously people take the academic Honor Code here, and I can’t help but feel that the heavy focus on the non-academic, “moral” elements of BYU’s code may detract from the perceived importance of its academic provisions.

  • http://theuttermeaninglessnessofeverything.blogspot.com/ dpc

    but for normal observers, it’s like walking into the Twilight Zone.

    That’s kind of how I felt when I went to go visit one of my friends who went there. Compared to the public university I went to, it was quite a shock to see people walking orderly between classes and cleanly organized bulletin boards without hundreds of flyers attached.

    I think the farther you go from Utah, the less conformist the Church is. I was in a branch here in Florida where the Sunday School president was an ex-hippie who always wore blue jeans to church and the ward mission leader was from the Virgin Islands and wore long dreadlocks. I don’t think that anyone every so much as made a comment about it.

    Compared to corporate America, I think the Mormon church is progressive. For all the ‘progress’ corporate America has made, it is still pretty strict with regard to grooming standards and conformity. And for all the Googles and Genentechs of the world, you can rest assured that most large corporations don’t appreciate their employees expressing their individuality.

  • http://thegooddemocrat.wordpress.com Dan

    The Honor Code’s section on grooming is silly, silly, silly. The beard rule in particular. Especially given the size and length of the beard of the man the school is named after. It is especially silly because of the reason behind the rule. It is really ironic, see, because we read in 1 Samuel that the Lord looks upon the heart, yet the Church would prefer the world look upon our faces to see who we are. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, had a beard, and he seemed to do okay in converting people to His Gospel.

    I agree with John Hamer. The church needs to get out of the 1950s. It seems to do so politically. Now if it will only do so hygienically.

  • John Hamer

    DPC (#8): The problem isn’t at the periphery, the problem is at the core. I worked last year as a contractor for the LDS church history department, making maps for the Joseph Smith Papers project. If you think that the LDS church is more open to individuality than corporate America, visit LDS corporate headquarters. Every single person looked exactly the same. All the men had dark suits and white shirts. A historian I respect was actually wearing a light blue shirt — which really stood out — and I respect him for that act of defiance.

    The effect of that level of conformity radiating out from the core is stultifying.

    You talk about local members in jeans and dreadlocks. The other day, Andrew Ainsworth was suggesting that the LDS church scrap what has become the world’s least effective full-time missionary force by making it a service corps.

    I think the way to make missionaries effective again is to free them to be real. Chuck all the hyper-market-tested sales pitches and throw the costumes in the fire.

    I picture a couple of 20-year-olds in jeans and dreadlocks on the campus here in Ann Arbor, devoting themselves full-time to sharing whatever it is about the gospel and their church that really moves and inspires them. Not what whatever sales pitch they’ve memorized, but something that actually inspires them. Real testimony could be powerful testimony and I think that would have the potential to bring in high-value converts here and elsewhere.

    Instead, the controlled, costumed guys and girls with their memorized, slick, market-tested messages come off as soulless. It’s no wonder they are as ineffective as they are.

  • http://thegooddemocrat.wordpress.com Dan

    Instead, the controlled, costumed guys and girls with their memorized, slick, market-tested messages come off as soulless. It’s no wonder they are as ineffective as they are.

    I wonder how Ammon dressed when he served King Lamoni…

  • http://rusch.wordpress.com Chris

    If you think it is bad at BYU, drive four and a half hours north to its’ sister school BYU Idaho. I won’t go into it here, but after two years amongst the pharisees, I was ready to move on. And so I did. I transfered to BYU-Hawaii where the Utah Idaho version of Mormonism is not a factor.

    Chris

  • http://theuttermeaninglessnessofeverything.blogspot.com/ dpc

    #10 John

    You make some really good points. Institutional change is difficult. Maybe the missionaries could wear business casual before making a total leap. :)

    …throw the costumes in the fire.

    I think a lot of missionaries already do that at the end of their mission… :)

  • John Nilsson

    As someone who had a brush with the Honor Code Office, I am interested by this post. I had bad acne as a teenager, and still have sensitive skin as an adult. Shaving was particularly aggravating, so occasionally I skipped a day. Bad idea. With barely visible stubble on my face, I tried to take a test at the “Testing Center” (another odd BYU institution) and was told by the student employee that I ought to shave before taking a test. I went ahead and took it, and a couple of weeks later my parents call me in distress, asking if I’m being kicked out of school. Huh?

    The student employee apparently sent a note to the Honor Code Office, and they generate
    a standard letter which went to my parent’s address in California. They open it, and see that I’m requested to meet with someone in the Honor Code Office very soon or face discipline.

    I saunter in to the office and they’re in the midst of moving to another campus location. They act like they don’t get a lot of visitors, and the secretary is annoyed that I’m interrupting her routine. I make an appointment, come back and meet with a stuffed shirt who asks me why I hadn’t been shaving. He seems relieved that it’s a skin condition and gives me a referral to health clinic on-campus. I remember him using the phrase “We just want to make sure your heart is beating BYU blue.”

    Long story short, the doc at the clinic asks me if shaving irritates my face. Then he hands me a prescription (!!) to take to the Honor Code Office to begin the process of growing out a full beard and getting a new ID card picture taken. The doc also says he thinks the rule is silly and that I could quietly tell any friends I had in the same predicament to skip the Honor Code office and just see him for a “beard prescription”.

    I could tell lots of stories about my last two years at BYU with a beard and the silly chances I took shaving it once in a while. By the way, once you decide to grow a beard, you have to keep it, no switching back and forth.

    So the irony of it is that I had facial hair at BYU, and now that I work for the evil arch-rival, I am clean-shaven for the most part (shaving every other day).

    John Hamer hits the nail right on the head. The appearance BYU tries to foster may work well with dignitaries from China and Muslim nations, but that very fact is what tells me we have the wrong policy, impressing all the wrong people. I can verify that the missionaries I saw at the University of Washington in Seattle were every bit as lonely looking as the ones John saw at Michigan.

    Dpc, it has little to do with Utah. Most of the kids at BYU are from elsewhere, and are among the most zealous enforcers of conformity of appearance. An earlier post from KC on visiting the Institute at UVSC in Orem, a virtual stone’s throw from BYU, reveals that even active LDS Institute-attending college kids sport facial hair and all the other mainstream American dress frowned on at the Y.

  • http://theuttermeaninglessnessofeverything.blogspot.com/ dpc

    Most of the kids at BYU are from elsewhere, and are among the most zealous enforcers of conformity of appearance.

    John,

    I suspect that you are right in this regard. However, I feel that the student body at BYU is self-selected to a certain extent and those who want a thoroughly Mormon experience (clean-shaven and all) are those who want to attend BYU. A lot of the people I went to Institute with had beards, some of whom were men.

  • NM Tony

    “The student employee apparently sent a note to the Honor Code Office, and they generate a standard letter which went to my parent’s address in California.”
    ‘“We just want to make sure your heart is beating BYU blue.”’

    I find this creepily McCarthyist in attitude. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling BYU fascist witch-hunters or anything of the sort. Nevertheless, the act of reporting someone for some minor infraction (ignorantly so) to an authoritative sub-committee seems to ring of McCarthyism. Then the comment of making sure you’re in step with us and your loyalties are true makes it even more so. Perhaps that is what bothers me the most about this idea of an Honor Code, the adamant and extreme enforcing of trivial grooming and dress.

  • Lisa Ray Turner

    “…throw the costumes in the fire.

    I think a lot of missionaries already do that at the end of their mission”

    My son did. It was a mission tradition to burn clothes. Maybe BYU students will adopt the same tradition and burn some of their “BYU clothes” when they graduate. About the clothing and grooming … do you think students would look any different without the honor code? I look around at church and see boys with short hair and mostly conservative clothes and girls in their tight t-shirts (usually 2 or 3 of them) and “modest” skirts. They dress this way without an honor code, and I’d think they’d continue if they were at a church school.

  • HT

    “The fatal flaw that I see in all these arguments is the implication that if the honor code didn’t exist, everyone would degenerate into lying, stealing, cheating, drug dealing, chain smoking, liquor swilling, promiscuous counter-culturists. If the honor code’s existence is justified by the fact that is it instills virtues, then the argument only holds ground if infact those virtues would be absent in the community were it not for the honor code.”

    You could also replace the phrase “the honor code” in this statement with other programs, policies, or institutions themselves. Try “the church”.

  • http://bookofmormononline.net KC Kern

    Re: Lisa #17: >>>do you think students would look any different without the honor code?

    My experience is no. I think the honor code is accepted by most students because it doesn’t change what they would be doing anyway (the exception being curfews and facial hair)

    Those who take the strongest stand against the honor code are usually the outliers, and then they are usually trapped into being perceived simply as wicked activists trying to justify their “inappropriateness.”

    My greatest discomfort with the honor code rests in this idea…I would like to think that most students would live moral lives independently. But the existence and enforcement of the honor code suggests a general distrust of the community on the administrative level, which I find unfortunate, given our founding religious principles.

  • Jeff Spector

    Great set of posts slamming BYU, missionaries and a few other things. Last time I looked, I didn’t think anyone was forced to attend BYU. Oh, I know, their parents force them. And the stigma of not attending BYU and particpate in the church is way too hard to bear.

    Believe or not, some people don’t have a problem with the honor code. They have other things to do.

    BTW, I didn’t attend there. I wasn’t a member then.

  • HT

    I went to BYU and didn’t think it was hard to live the honor code. I just thought it was silly that they called it and “honor”-code.

  • John Hamer

    DPC (#13): It almost never makes sense for institutions to adopt radical changes rapidly. If the LDS church were to abandon the emphasis on dressing like it’s 1959, it should do so thoughtfully and slowly. A good place to start would be “quietly” excising the grooming standards from BYU’s honor code and then having a few conference talks on how outward appearances don’t matter; what matters is in the heart sort of thing.

    Lisa Ray Turner (#17): You’re observing how conformity ripples out from the center like a pebble thrown in a pond. If the conformist waves from the center slowly abated, members in the periphery over time would feel more free to dress like normal people.

  • Chris W.

    Great discussion, guys.

    I’m glad you mentioned “hedges”, KC. When I was at BYU, I had a roommate who explicitly believed in the hedges approach. He had printed out this article about how early Christians used hedges to keep themselves safe and that we should do so today. I remember thinking “huh? wasn’t that the pharisees?”

    I think that the honor code breeds that kind of thinking throughout the church. I have longish hair (like wavy David O. McKay length, maybe). I also don’t like to shave, so I keep a very low profile beard. I get comments about both things from my LDS friends/family/ward members often. That I’m growing a beard to avoid a calling, for example (which seems to be working, by the way).

    I think the 2 earring rule and the white shirt and tie convention (“the uniform of the priesthood”) have precisely the same impact. Think of it in terms of Clay’s post yesterday. When you tell people that the way you look on the outside reflects your spiritual nature, they’re also hearing: “You can tell by looking at someone what kind of person he or she is.” To me, this is unchristian.

  • John Hamer

    Jeff (#20): You’ve misread substantive and constructive criticism of policy as a general “slam.” Your reactionary response fails to address anything anyone has talked about here. No one said anything about being forced to goto BYU or not. What does that have to do with anything?

  • California Condor

    If the Honor Code dress and grooming tenets are so bad , why is Barack Obama following them today? He usually even wears a white shirt and tie? Why did Bill Clinton follow them in 1992? Even Hillary Clinton dresses like a BYU student. (One pair of earrings, modest dress).

  • http://eatingwell.wordpress.com Sam B.

    John Hamer (6),
    I don’t see the “mindless and valueless conformity of appearance that the Honor Code enforces.” Or, at least, I didn’t see it in the 90s, while I was there (I admit that plenty can change in a decade). Yes, the guys had short hair, and yes, were largely clean-shaven (which I whined about, I’ll happily admit), but the only “conformity” was an Abercrombie-and-Fitch/GAP look that a lot of students wore. Not much different than the preppy look that Columbia undergrads by and large adopt, or the we’re-not-rich-we’re-hippies-(really) look you get when you walk in the Village near NYU. That is, your complaint about conformity is (or was) grossly overblown. At that age, there will be conformity to whatever the local social norm is, with certain outliers standing out.

    That said, the dress and grooming standards are dumb. But students pay less for a college degree there than some parents I know here pay for a year of private kindergarten. So maybe the low tuition is reimbursing students for abiding by pointless rules. Frankly, I’d rather pay $4,000 a year and have to shave than pay $36,000 a year and not have to shave. Not that the rule isn’t dumb, but it really doesn’t promote any more conformity to a look than any other school I’ve seen.

  • Jeff Spector

    John,

    It seems simple to me. If you go voluntarily to a school that has rules, then you are obligated to follow them. If you don’t like it, don’t go there. There are rules everywhere. Calling it “McCarthyism, silly, inappropriate” is just a slam in my opinion.

    And making fun of sister missionaries because they don’t dress like sloppy college students is as well.

  • a random John

    I hate the honor code. I wish it would die a sudden and painful death.

    The honor code is a symbol of what is wrong with LDS culture. Our doctrine trumpets (free) agency and this life as an opportunity to mold yourself into something better. Yet our culture pays lip service to these concepts and shows how easily we can slip into the same sort of thinking that produced Satan’s plan.

    If honor code-less BYU students couldn’t handle living away from home without running wild then BYU students aren’t nearly as impressive as we’re constantly told they are. I did not attend BYU. I did attend an institution with an honor code. We signed it before tests and it was an agreement that we would not cheat and therefore we would not be proctored. Compare that with BYU’s concept of “honor” which includes monitored testing and the concept of facial hair having something to do with honor. As for my virtue I kept that intact because I had decided to and not because of social pressure. This despite the fact that I lived in co-ed dorms, spent time in the dorm rooms of members of the opposite sex, has homosexual resident advisors, and grew several beards, some of the lopsided.

    These erroneous concepts are not sealed into BYU. They leak into the broader LDS culture and are a decidedly negative influence. I have heard people bear testimony on fast Sunday to fact that beards are Satanic because they are against the BYU Honor Code. I kid you not. Lest you think that this was a crazy person speaking I’ll reveal that it was a BYU professor. The idea that one can’t have a non-romantic relationship with a member of the opposite sex it also reinforced by the rules of the honor code that seem to assume that one is always looking for sex.

    Such thinking tears us from the true gospel message and makes us focus on conformity for its own sake and creating artificial barriers to entry to the community of saints.

    The honor code might have started our with the best of intentions but has morphed into a cancer on BYU and LDS culture.

  • a random John

    dpc,

    I spent 8 years as a consultant IBM and can assure you that there is much less conformity of dress in corporate America than there used to be. Even Big Blue, the symbol of conservative corporate culture, has loosened up considerably.

  • http://www.mormonmatters.org Clay Whipkey

    “It seems simple to me. If you go voluntarily to a school that has rules, then you are obligated to follow them. If you don’t like it, don’t go there. There are rules everywhere. Calling it “McCarthyism, silly, inappropriate” is just a slam in my opinion.”

    I don’t think anyone is talking about the merits of attending BYU, or trying to discuss whether they or their children should attend. The discussion is simply about the merits of the Honor Code itself. As a concept, do you think KC’s post was fair, or do you have a point to make about how the Honor Code is totally justified and positive?

    In the USA, obviously we all agree that a private institution has the legal right to have rules, and you declare your support or lack thereof by your participation. But even if the institution can have the rules, can’t we discuss the merits of the rules themselves? In your view, what are the merits of the rules?

  • http://eatingwell.wordpress.com Sam B.

    aRJ,
    Did you hear such testimonies in Boston? Because I’ve never heard them in New York. Or San Diego. I really don’t think they leak that far; most guys in the Church I know out here don’t grow beards because (a) they can’t, or (b) their wives won’t let them. I’m fortunate that (a) I can, (b) my wife likes it, and (c) the head of my department at work has a beard.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “monitored testing”; maybe you’re talking about the Testing Center? I didn’t have a lot of tests there–the English department tended to have them in class–but I wouldn’t call it “monitored.” I’d call it a convenience for profs with big classes who didn’t want to do tests during the class. And yes, there was a person or two walking around, but I had the same thing in tests at law school in New York, plus software we had to put on our computers to prevent cheating. Is it much different at Stanford? (I guess I could ask my sister.)

    What I’m saying is, yes, the rules are dumb, but I don’t see any material repurcussion outside of the four-ish years that a student spends at BYU. At least, I don’t see any such repurcussion occuring outside of the Mormon Corridor; I never lived inside it except as a BYU student, but when I visit my in-laws in Sandy, I see plenty of men with goatees (which seem to be the Utah thing right now), and some with long hair. Maybe they’re called sinners–I go to church at my in-laws maybe once every three years–but I kind of doubt it.

  • John Hamer

    Jeff (#27) it’s a free country and BYU is free to impose its honor code and demand enforcement of it. It’s free to functionally eliminate the tenure system and to fire professors who step out of line, at will. Professors are free to work there or not, and students are free to attend or not. If they choose to do so, they are rightfully subject to the school’s policies by their own choice. I have no complaints with BYU’s free exercise of private autonomy in the same way that I have zero complaints about the Boy Scouts of America’s rights, as a private club, to set its own regulations.

    I don’t think the institution’s private right to impose policies is in question. The question is whether the particular policy is ultimately helpful to BYU, to the LDS church and to Mormon culture in general.

  • http://eatingwell.wordpress.com Sam B.

    I should add, I think that the state of Utah’s insistence that students be able to carry firearms on campus is far more damaging than any grooming standards, and has far worse repurcussions. (And that I applaud the U of U for fighting it as hard as they can, and BYU for not permitting guns on campus.)

  • http://theuttermeaninglessnessofeverything.blogspot.com/ dpc

    arj (#29): I work in the corporate legal world and deal with banking and finance. You don’t get much more conservative than that. One of my friend’s co-worker (who works in the same field) was given a gift certificate for a haircut at Christmas and his hair was anything but long or unruly.

  • a random John

    Sam B.

    Here’s what I heard in Boston. A sister was discussing the relative merits of Ricks and BYU(-Provo) and stated that biggest difference that she saw was that the Ricks honor code was much better than the BYU one. I asked her what this meant and she told me that it was a much stricter, more rigorous honor code and they took it more seriously. I probed further and she gave examples contrasting the two honor codes.

    I then told a story from my undergrad days. A grad student at Stanford who attended Cal Tech undergrad was comparing honor codes and mentioned the differences between just the academic portions of the honor codes at BYU, Stanford, and Cal Tech. It should be noted that for two of the three the content is entirely academic. In any case, the BYU honor code requires you to have proctored tests. The Stanford honor code requires that tests never be proctored but that the professor wait in the hall in order to answer questions if needed. The Cal Tech honor code requires that students be allowed to take a test at any time during the testing week at any location. Tests can have strict time limits and may be open or closed book. Yet students are given the test at the start of the week and turn them in at the end of the week. According to this student it was taken very seriously. If a test had a three hour time limit then you spent three hours on it.

    After relating this I asked which of the three schools required more honor of its students. Everyone responded that clearly Cal Tech did.

    Then I asked this sister which honor code was better, that of Ricks or BYU’s. She admitted that she had never thought of it that way, but it seemed that the BYU one might be better. I then asked which of the four honor codes mentioned better prepared students to live in the real world and she became flustered and clearly didn’t want to continue the conversation so I dropped it. Perhaps I’m a jerk for asking the question.

    It was clear from the reactions of people in the room that many who had attended BYU had never really considered the question.

    I had a number of other conversations with ward members in Boston that made it clear to me that the BYU honor code had leaked into broader LDS culture and that the damage isn’t limited to Utah.

    Furthermore, I don’t think that the impact of the honor code is limited to public statements that happen to reference it. I think that it is more likely to manifest itself as a quiet prejudice against those that don’t conform to its artificial standards.

  • a random John

    dpc,

    You are indeed in a more conservative world. I should mention that corporate dress and grooming standards are also more conservative overseas, especially in Asia and Latin America.

  • MAC

    A few years ago, I was responsible for the intake and training of newly hired engineers, about 1/3 from US universities and the remainder from overseas. I would have each cohort for 2 to 3 months and often it was their first time in an environment other than their parents home or university. You would not believe the issues I had to deal with, love triangles, bar fights, venereal disease, cultural conflicts, public nudity in corporate housing, you name it. I occasionally had a BYU graduate.

    You could not imagine the number of times I was met with blank stares as I explained that just because they had made it through the interview process, it was not time to expose their g-strings or grow lambchop sideburns, that you may not be able to smell the alcohol you are sweating out, but I can. in three years I probably terminated 30 engineers and of those thirty, few were not technically capable of performing the job they were hired to do, but they were unable to function professionally.

    I guess what I am getting at is that living under the honor code gives a new graduate a huge leg up as they enter professional life, with all its minefields. A very small minority of recent graduates will enter a work environment which doesn’t have cultural norms and restrictions. I think BYU honor code is doing a great job of preparing its graduates to function within those restrictions and have fewer obstacles to success.

  • Steve M

    If you go voluntarily to a school that has rules, then you are obligated to follow them. If you don’t like it, don’t go there. There are rules everywhere.

    This is probably the most common rebuttal to criticisms of the Honor Code, but it lacks substance.

    I don’t entirely agree with all of the laws of this country or the manner in which our political leaders lead it (particularly over the past 7 years), but does that mean I should just leave? No. As a concerned citizen, I should raise my voice and exercise my rights to effect a change. I shouldn’t just abandon the country like a sinking ship, but should contribute to its betterment.

    As a concerned Mormon and former BYU student, I have an interest in the welfare of the Church and BYU. I voluntarily decided to attend BYU and abide by its Honor Code, but I did not forfeit my right to object to its provisions and application. Rather, as a BYU student, I felt a responsibility to voice my objections and push for reform. This isn’t a novel or radical idea, even at BYU; the Honor Code began as a student initiative, and has periodically been amended through student efforts. Most recently, the Honor Code’s wording on sexual orientation was changed in response to student lobbying.

    Disagreeing with BYU or its policies does not make one an enemy of the institution or the Church. Friendly BYU students, BYU alumni, and other church members who are interested in the institution’s welfare and success can and should voice their objections and criticisms, in the hope of stimulating progress and reform.

  • http://eatingwell.wordpress.com Sam B.

    aRJ,
    That’s interesting. I admit to having never read the entire BYU honor code, but if it requires that tests be proctored (and I don’t deny the possibility, but I don’t feel like Googling it), it is at best honored in the breach. I had a number of exams given by a professor who then went up to his or her office, where he or she was accessible, but was absolutely not there. And, for that matter, I had a roommate who had a take-home exam (I may have, too, but it’s been long enough that I don’t remember; I remember his because he worked on it for hours more than I would have).

    (Again, FWIW, I can’t believe that I’m casting myself in the role of defender of BYU’s honor code, but I do think that complaints, especially by post-college people, are often overblown. It was fun to whine about while I was there, but then I moved away and moved on; it doesn’t play any part in my life or the life of other BYU grads I hang out with.)

  • NM Tony

    RE: #27
    “Calling it “McCarthyism, silly, inappropriate” is just a slam in my opinion.”

    If you looked at my comment again, you will see that I found the extreme behavior of “narcing” on someone for a day or two worth of facial hair growth to be like McCarthyism. I have no qualms for those who want to sign the Honor Code because, you’re right, they do it by choice. I just think that a student telling on another student for some innocuous grooming offense is bad policy. I feel that the primary objective of an educational institution is to educate and encourage critical thinking not pointing out miniscule grooming infractions. The Honor Code should be more of a guideline than a list of absolutes.

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen Marsh

    those who want a thoroughly Mormon experience (clean-shaven and all) are those who want to attend BYU

    I know I went to BYU instead of MIT for that reason, disappointing my grandfather who was ready to try to send me to Harvard.

    But, visit a law office. Gee, here I am, hair short, clean-shaven (though my wife loves beards, I’d rather look trustworthy than sexy when in court) with a button down shirt and wingtips.

    Those who take the strongest stand against the honor code are usually the outliers I’d agree.

    is just a slam in my opinion hmm, it did come across pretty harsh. A lot of the tone here is pretty harsh some times. a sudden and painful death ouch. I’m thinking my attraction to this board is starting to die that sort of death with comments like this.

    I guess what I am getting at is that living under the honor code gives a new graduate a huge leg up as they enter professional life, with all its minefields. A very small minority of recent graduates will enter a work environment which doesn’t have cultural norms and restrictions. I think BYU honor code is doing a great job of preparing its graduates to function within those restrictions and have fewer obstacles to success.

    Sigh. I’m sad that we aren’t seeing more of a discussion of this fact.

  • Steve M

    Is BYU’s strict (and in many respects arbitrary) Honor Code necessary to instilling professionalism?

  • http://bookofmormononline.net KC Kern

    #39 Sam:
    I don’t believe there is any honor code requirement for proctored tests…i think those policies are determined by department.

    However, the honor code does require that infractions of others be reported. On this note, I have had English teachers take a controversial stand, stating that if they catch us plagiarizing, we will get a zero on the paper, but we would not be reported to the honor code office.

    Even among faculty there is some loose interpretation of certain items.

  • http://theuttermeaninglessnessofeverything.blogspot.com/ dpc

    Is BYU’s strict (and in many respects arbitrary) Honor Code necessary to instilling professionalism?

    The following article seems to think so. Here’s the link from the New York Times.

  • http://theuttermeaninglessnessofeverything.blogspot.com/ dpc

    Here’s the relevant portion for those who don’t want to read the actual article:

    Finally, some research suggests that people struggling with self-control should start small. A few studies show that people who were instructed for two weeks to make small changes like improving their posture or brushing their teeth with their opposite hand improved their scores on laboratory tests of self-control. The data aren’t conclusive, but they do suggest that the quest for self-improvement should start small. A vow to stop swearing, to make the bed every day or to give up just one food may be a way to strengthen your self-control, giving you more willpower reserves for bigger challenges later.

    “Learning to bring your behavior under control even with arbitrary rules does build character in that it makes you better able to achieve the things you want to achieve later on,’’ said Dr. Baumeister. “Self-control is a limited resource. People make all these different New Year’s resolutions, but they are all pulling off from the same pool of your willpower. It’s better to make one resolution and stick to it than make five.’’

  • John Nilsson

    Stephen Marsh,

    You refer to the BYU Honor Code’s preparing its graduates to function within its restrictions and have fewer obstacles to success, and your desire to discuss this “fact”. I will bracket the factual question for a moment and ask this question: Is the purpose of BYU’s HONOR code to prepare its graduates for professional success? If it is, I never heard that rationale presented to me when a student.

    I heard a lot about Karl Maeser and voluntary imprisonment in self-drawn chalk circles, but never a word about impressing visiting dignitaries or that I’ll be able to land that top-notch position right out of school, beating out that stoned UC Berkeley graduate. Why are students not told these fantastic reasons for abiding by otherwise arbitrary rules (full mustaches OK, one day of overall beard growth not)? I suspect that these are ex post facto justifications. The leakage referred to above is obvious everywhere, from grooming standards for temple workers to those for callings in bishoprics and high councils. It’s patently obvious that there are outer markers of acceptability and everyone knows what those are. When I wear a black shirt to church and I am told by a member of the bishopric that I look like a gangster because of it, we see the silliness of all of this.

    I have to say that BYU gave me an excellent undergraduate education, but that the Dress and Grooming Standards did not stand me in good stead for graduate work in the humanities. Which I think says something interesting about BYU and it’s educational orientation. It’s my bet that those in engineering, business, and law have the greatest “edge” by following the Dress and Grooming Standards of BYU.

    Perhaps we should detach the dress and grooming standards discussion from the Honor Code discussion. When I was there they were technically two different sets of agreements which one read and signed.

  • John Hamer

    Concerning John N’s point (#46), I had only really been talking about the Dress and Grooming standards above.

    MAC (#37): To me it sounds like your employees went wild because it was their first time living without direct parental oversight and also because it sounds like you were in some kind of camp-like environment, with employees living together. I think normally in the regular world, people are able to learn to set their own boundaries at regular colleges. They do some crazy stuff at college because it’s their first time away from parents. Having done that, they learn first-hand the benefits of behaving in a way that isn’t crazy.

    I was the president of a software company for 8 years and I hired lots of young people (mostly computer programmers) just out of college. None of them happened to be from BYU and I never had a single problem with employees failing to control themselves in terms of sex, booze or anything else. Nothing like that every entered into the workplace.

  • Jeff Spector

    I will agree that any honor code, if required, should be about honor and not about appearance

  • http://mormonmatters.org Nick Literski

    But, visit a law office. Gee, here I am, hair short, clean-shaven (though my wife loves beards, I’d rather look trustworthy than sexy when in court) with a button down shirt and wingtips.

    Wow…so people with beards aren’t trustworthy now?

  • a random John

    MAC,

    I would guess that most active LDS would do fine in such an environment with or without the honor code. I don’t think that artificially strict requirements are needed (or even beneficial) for preparing college age LDS students for life after college. Especially those that have already met the requirements to attend BYU. Simply living the commandments would seem sufficient to me.

    On the other side of the coin, I’m not aware of any of my classmates that spent a good deal of time under the influence of alcohol being fired from their first jobs because they couldn’t keep it under control. They knew when to let loose and when to keep it all business.

    Sam B.,

    My broader point is that BYU is (after a mission) one of the uniquely LDS experiences that shapes LDS culture even outside the Mormon corridor. It is so pervasive that those who are part of it might not realize the influence it has. It is the air you breathe. As one that did not participate in that particular Mormon ritual I might be more sensitive to its impacts and how it shapes interactions. Or maybe I’m just disagreeable.

  • David

    Wow…so people with beards aren’t trustworthy now?

    I guess you didn’t get the memo when you were executive secretary. All people who have had beards after George Albert Smith are going to hell. No exceptions.

  • http://theuttermeaninglessnessofeverything.blogspot.com/ dpc

    Nick said:

    Wow…so people with beards aren’t trustworthy now?

    Judges and juries are really particular about appearance. For whatever reason, in the law, appearances matter.

  • Jeff Spector

    People with beards are NOT trustworthy. Trust me on this one…… :)

  • http://thegooddemocrat.wordpress.com Dan

    I guess Jesus was not trustworthy…

  • http://eatingwell.wordpress.com Sam B.

    arJ,
    No, you’re right that it is (for many LDS in the US) a unique and shaping shared experience. But “the air you breathe”? No. It was the air I breathed for the school year for about four and a half years, and I had significant formative experiences there. But I also did in high school, in grad school, and in work. You give me (and other BYU alum) too little credit if you think we can’t (as a rule–I’m sure there are exceptions, and I’m sure you and I have both met some) separate BYU and life/church. And trust me, I’m aware of BYU’s influence and non-influence in my life. You didn’t go to BYU, but neither did my wife.

    So on the broad point, yes, BYU did affect who I am, but no, the Dress and Grooming Standards play no part in my life, and haven’t since I left, in the same way that the parking rules play no part in my life today, although they were significant when I was there and had a car.

  • Jeff Spector

    The Jews didn’t think so. ;)

  • Kent

    What is up with all of the emotion behind these some of these posts? Stephen Marsh is a very cool headed and kind person, and if he stops posting here as a result of the tone I’ll be very sad.

  • MAC

    John, #47

    I didn’t say they all went wild, the real trouble makers were a small minority. But I the problems were not extremely different at our facilities worldwide. I imagine that you could write several books if you got together a few dormitory RAs, drill sergeants, corporate recruiters, peace corp coordinators, etc. I recently saw a funny report on how British army recruits (chavs) are now receiving intake hygiene training, to include instructions on how to properly shower.

    arj,

    I would disagree, professional success isn’t measured by religious obedience, but by the ability to accomplish objectives unhindered by inappropriate/ineffective behaviors. (in the context of this discussion anyway) I know several obedient/orthodox Mormons who cannot hold down regular employment for lack of basic employment skills. Attend a Stake employment committee meeting, they can be pretty sad. I would not say that post-graduate success is dependent upon compliance with the honor code, I would say that it is a very strong advantage.

  • a random John

    MAC,

    Are you saying that if those obedient Mormons had attended a university with a BYU style honor code that they would be better able to hold a job? I really don’t see the connection.

    Sam B.,

    Perhaps I exaggerated about the air thing, but the honor code, partially through the fact that it is somewhat unique, creates a sense of what is an is not proper Mormon behavior in a way that parking rules do not. It is my opinion that for many in the Church this set of standards not only for personal behavior but also as a measuring stick for judging others has been carried over to post-BYU life. Perhaps worse than the silliness of some of the standards themselves is the very idea that setting arbitrary stringent requirements has anything to do with honor. I applaud you for escaping such thinking. In my experience many are not even aware that they’ve been inculcated with such ideas.

  • Kevin Barney

    Two quick stories from my own ancient encounter with BYU’s dress and grooming standards (late 70s, early 80s):

    1. I have hair that is naturally very curly. I always hated my hair growing up and admired guys who could look good in long, straight hair, maybe parted down the middle. Somewhere along the way my older sister styled and cut my hair into an afro (this was the mid-70s, and afros were in back then), and that worked great and helped me come to peace with my own hair.

    I went to BYU, and I probably had about the longest hair of any guy on campus, for the simple reason that my hair didn’t grow down, over my ears and collar the way the honor code read, but rather out in every other direction. I was only referred to the honor code police once, and I just had to get a trim. I kind of enjoyed the fact that I could wear long hair when most guys couldn’t. (These days I deal with my curly hair by keeping it quite short, but that just wasn’t the fashion when I was in college.)

    2. Fast forward a few years to my senior year, 81-82. By this time I’m married and in a married student ward. Over the Xmas break I grew a beard. It probably never would have occurred to me to do so except for the stress on not doing so from the honor code. The Sunday I came back literally half the men in our ward still had their Xmas beards (and it’s not like any of us had coordianted or planned this).

    A funny thing happened over that break; my wife decided she really liked me in a beard. So I shaved for my last semester, and as soon as I graduated I grew the beard back, and I’ve had it ever since (even though I practice law in a big city).

    No one at church has ever commented negatively on my beard or asked me to shave it. If anyone asked me to shave it (say to accept some high and holy calling like bishop), I would decline. On the subject of whether or not to wear a beard, my wife’s opinion is the only one that really matters to me.

  • Jeff Spector

    I have had a beard since 1976. I shaved it off twice since. Once I just felt like it in 1977 or so and my friends laugh at me. So back on it went. In 1983, I was called as Ward Mission Leader and the high Councilman asked me to shave it off. So I did. We moved 18 months later so back on it came. I’ve served as a Stake/Ward missionary, Elder’s Quorum President, High Council and Bishopric Counselor, and a temple veil worker. I presented at the CES Seminary and Institute symposium twice as well, all with a beard, a full one. (see my picture).

    When we moved to Colorado, I wanted to be a veil worker in the Denver Temple. The Temple President said I need to be clean shaven because President Hinckley said so. I still have my beard.

    I guess the Lord doesn’t need me to be a veil worker that bad.

  • MAC

    arj

    “Are you saying that if those obedient Mormons had attended a university with a BYU style honor code that they would be better able to hold a job?”

    If their particular professional hygiene/habits shortcomings are ones that would have been addressed by being forced to function within that framework, yes.

    But if the university’s objective is to prepare individuals for career/employment/profession? Chances are they will move into an environment where their success is partially dependent on being able to fit and function within that corporate or geographical culture, and having already had a dry run at school is going to give them an advantage.

  • MAC

    I wonder how many international students @ BYU snicker at those who complain about the honor code. I think it is very American specific to make these kind of silly challenges.

  • a random John

    Stephen Marsh,

    ouch. I’m thinking my attraction to this board is starting to die that sort of death with comments like this.

    I am sorry if my comments have in any way caused you to reconsider your participation here. I simply meant to convey at the outset my opinion that the Honor Code does damage to the Church and its members. I tried to follow up that statement with what I think is a reasonable set of observations and conclusions on the matter. Reducing my initial comment to that sound bite strikes me as unfair. It was not my intent to offend and I would hope that the substance of my comments was up to your standards even you you happen to disagree with my opinions and conclusions.

  • Kari

    Wow! What a discussion. Here is my 2¢, for what it’s worth.

    I went to Ricks College from 85-87. The only memories I have about the “honor” code are those that revolve around the dress and grooming standards that were expected. I don’t know to what extent the code dealt with academic honesty. I know that I saw rampant cheating, and it seemed that cheating was much more socially acceptable than at my high-school. But yet anyone with “longish” hair was looked upon as being an “apostate”. I personally was called to the honor code office on two occasions for not wearing socks with my shoes.

    I would agree with those who propose that the dress, grooming, and non-academic social/religious be removed from the realm of the school and be left with ecclesiastical leaders.

    I also agree that the seepage of the dress and grooming standards from BYU to the whole church is something that I find unfortunate. We are only teaching each other to judge based upon appearances, rather than making judgments on behavior. When my son can’t pass the sacrament because he’s wearing a blue shirt (but yet the priests can bless the sacrament with ratty looking BYU sweatshirts over their white shirts), the implication is that my son’s clothing somehow makes him unworthy. This saddens me.

    It’s all so interesting as to how we all judge appearances. The variability is amazing. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Washington I let my hair grow long, and grew a little goatee. One day at church I had two people comment on my appearance (after I had passed the sacrament); I was told that I looked like Errol Flynn only to be told, not 10 minutes later, that I looked like Charles Manson.

    I hope that I can teach my children to be less superficial than this. I have succeeded in teaching them that BYU and the U of Mich are evil, so I’ll die happy. :)

  • a random John

    MAC,

    I guess it is just a matter of when and how to take the training wheels off. There is a point where they are useful and protect you and a point at which they slow you down and a bit after that they make the bike much more dangerous that it would otherwise be. I would hope that BYU students would as individuals adhere to high standards because that is the kind of people they are rather than because the institution has written up a list of rules.

  • http://www.blognitivedissonance.com danithew

    I have mixed feelings about the honor code thing. I remember being accepted to BYU many years ago and talking about the honor code with some of my high school friends in New Jersey. They started laughing their heads off when they saw, in print, a rule stating that “the no-bra look is unacceptable” or something to that effect. I think that line has since been taken out.

    I thought John Hamer’s conclusion that the BYU Honor Code is killing the church was amusing. I don’t think it’s _that_ serious – but I do think it does harm to some individuals. Usually though, the Honor Code is on a span between harmless and positive. There are a lot of college students doing stupid things – and the Honor Code might help to impede some of that stupidity.

  • http://thegooddemocrat.wordpress.com Dan

    Think of it this way. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints trusts the salvation of the souls of men to 19 year old wet-behind-the-ears kids, but cannot trust 21 year olds with their facial hair. Silly, I tell you. Just plain silly.

  • queuno

    I was a member of the Honor Code Council in 2004. I had to resign when I accepted an internship that took me away from campus. I also have a beard and don’t wear white shirts.

    But I’ll say this — I was clean-shaven during my time at BYU. I grew my beard when I did my internship, and shaved it off again when I returned.

    I *like* the fact that BYU has tougher standards than are outside Church standards. I *support* that.

    The comment has been made that the unfortunate thing about the HC is that without it, BYU students would be like anyone else. That, to me, seems like a case for keeping it.

    BYU is a better school because of it. There’s a better spirit there because of it. Getting rid of it would not benefit the campus. It’s just such a trivial thing to agree to and obey.

  • Kari

    We don’t trust those same 19 year olds to wear anything other than suits and ties (except in a few countries). We don’t trust them to teach a single person of the opposite sex. We don’t trust a companionship of elders to have a district meeting with a companionship of sisters (can you say double date?). We no longer trust them to be alone on transfer days (on my mission I would frequently spend 3-6 hours traveling alone – or waiting alone for my new companion). We don’t trust them to manage their time independently, giving them specific times of study, proselyting, etc. We don’t trust them enough to let them call home except on mother’s day and Christmas. We don’t trust them to keep their own passports (I had to surrender my to my mission president upon arriving in England).

    So say what you want about the honor code, but students at BYU are trusted (i.e. have more freedoms) way more than the average missionary.

  • queuno

    Kevin, one of the holiest men I know was bishop of my wife’s home ward in SLC around the time we got married. Many past and present apostles come from that stake. He has had a beard his adult life and was while he was a bishop. His wife has never seen him without it.

  • Steve M

    Perhaps I exaggerated about the air thing, but the honor code, partially through the fact that it is somewhat unique, creates a sense of what is an is not proper Mormon behavior in a way that parking rules do not.

    I would agree with this. At my particular university, there is a relatively large contingency of LDS students pursuing professional or graduate studies. All but a few attended BYU. Almost without exception, the students have maintained BYU grooming standards. Clean-shaven every day, crisp missionary haircuts.

    I am by no means criticizing them. But I think the almost ubiquitous persistence of the “BYU look” among the group speaks to the lasting influence that the Honor Code has on BYU alums.

  • a random John

    queuno,

    It’s just such a trivial thing to agree to and obey.

    If I were being sarcastic I’d say that you’ve just very nicely summarized Satan’s plan. :)

    It is not trivial because it sets standards that have very little to do with living the gospel and it benefits us to question the need for such things and think it through. I assure you that BYU would be a unique place without it.

  • MAC

    arj,

    It isn’t about standards high or low. A beard has nothing to do with worthiness.

    It is about learning to function within a framework. It that sense, the training wheels never “come off.” We do not transcend social the social norms of what ever community we participate in and remain a complete and function member of that community.

    I know that the happy-happy-joy-joy crowd would like a world where we are all free to be ourselves without consequence, but this is not realistic.

    Alternately, if you want to see a restriction of freedom, get yourself an “it’s a baby not a choice” lapel pin and spend a few days wandering around our freedom loving, secular American universities and you might appreciate the fact that BYU at least provides another option.

  • http://www.burningbosom.com Andrew Ainsworth

    John Hamer (#10), thanks for shamelessly plugging my post from the other day about missionary work. :) However, I want to clarify that I certainly was not intending to suggest that “the LDS church scrap what has become the world’s least effective full-time missionary force by making it a service corps,” as you summarized. Rather, I was intending to suggest that Church members should let their light shine by becoming more active in local community service and focusing on loving and serving their neighbors, which I think would naturally draw more people into the Church. I think this is primarily something regular members should be doing, and that a positive side-benefit would be at it would turn members into more effective “member missionaries”. Although I do believe full-time missionaries could do more service as well, I certainly was not intending to suggest that the missionary program be scrapped.

    Thanks for letting me clarify that.

  • a random John

    MAC,

    They certainly do come off, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t crash. Eventually you become and adult and life with the non-artificial consequences of your actions. You get fired, become an outcast, etc. My concern is that the honor code’s promotion of artificial consequences for inconsequential actions influences the broader LDS culture. Others clearly think that I’m seeing something that isn’t there.

  • John Hamer

    Andrew (#75), I worked for years I was director of advertising for a company. When you’re making a shameless plug, jazzing up the summary sells. :D

    BTW, concerning your clarified proposal — I agree with you that the Ammon Approach would have multiple, overlapping positive results.

    Danithew (#67) I stand by my hyperbole, however amusing.

  • Kari

    It isn’t about standards high or low. A beard has nothing to do with worthiness.

    A more apt statement I couldn’t imagine. I don’t understand the only argument that you have seemed to posit here, that the honor code helps BYU graduates professionally. And then you comment that it is only a “small minority” of new hires that you had problems with, and only occasionally had a BYU grad. I am not sure that your data set supports the conclusions you espouse.

    No one on this thread is arguing for a world of no consequences, so lets stick to what is being discussed. We also all realize that there are certain environments outside of BYU/mormondom in which there are specific grooming standards. Stephen Marsh brought up an excellent example, when arguing a case in front of a jury, it probably isn’t wise to have a beard or pony tail. Is it right that a jury should make this judgment, that a lawyer isn’t trustworthy because he has a beard?

    I am in the Navy. I knew when I joined that I would be required to wear a specific uniform to work everyday. And everyone around me is wearing the exact same thing. I also knew that I would not be allowed to grow my hair long, have an earing, or have a beard (although mustaches are ok, with certain limits). And standards for tattoos have become much more restrictive than we I joined. Just like students who go to BYU I knew in advance what the standards were. I choose to follow them because I appreciate my job. Will I continue to do so when I leave the Navy this year? No. I plan to grow a beard. However, I will still wear a “uniform” as in my next job I am expected to wear a tie (luckily the color of my shirt doesn’t matter). And I’ll still keep my hair cut short.

    The whole problem with the standards at BYU, imo, is the fact that these standards are often viewed by many as standards of worthiness, inside and outside of BYU. Additionally, they have essentially become the de facto standards of dress for all LDS members. In my ward white shirts and ties are required for deacons to pass the sacrament despite the CHI (pg. 37) stating “Those who bless and pass the sacrament should dress modestly and be well groomed and clean. Clothing or jewelry should not call attention to itself or distract members during the sacrament. White shirts and ties are recommended because they add to the dignity of the ordinance. However, they should not be required as a mandatory prerequisite for a priesthood holder to participate. Nor should it be required that all be alike in dress or appearance.” It is this emphasis on appearance that many of us lament. And we feel that the honor code at BYU (and BYU-I) only serves to increase this emphasis among members of the church away from BYU. As ARJ has stated, the honor code promotes “artificial consequences for inconsequential actions”, not only at BYU, but in the larger LDS culture.

  • http://www.burningbosom.com Andrew Ainsworth

    My thoughts about the Honor Code at BYU are just a handful of brief memories.

    1. I remember showing up for an inter-mural softball game on a late Friday afternoon. I hadn’t shaved that day because I had no Friday classes and therefore didn’t go to campus. I was not allowed to play in the softball game because I had a 24-hour shadow, which for me is pretty weak, trust me.

    2. I recall posters and signs scattered throughout the campus promoting the honor code and its benefits. I didn’t get it, and these ubiquitous reminders made me feel like the administration presumed good students like me were disinclined to obey the honor code, but that putting up a lot of posters would change our minds. I felt like I was living in the Farenheit 451 world.

    3. One of my roommates, who we will call Scott, was a slob and created disgusting messes in our bathroom and kitchen. Another of my roommates, who we will call Alex, used to lock horns with Scott about it. So Scott retaliated against Alex by reporting Alex to the Honor Code Office for sometimes allowing his girlfriend into his bedroom where they would do homework together, and sometimes even kiss. My roommate Alex and his girlfriend were kicked out of BYU for a semester.

  • MAC

    arj,

    First of all, you will need to specify if you consider ALL of the honor code as inconsequential. I am sure that if BYU morphed into a hotbed of pre-marital hooking up and sexual freedom that many people would argue that the detrimental effects on BYU and to some degree the Church would be significant. I was kind of operating on the assumption that you are mostly concerned with the modesty/grooming requirements.

    I would almost guess that the Pharisee-ism that you refer to is actually more prevalent in areas where there are higher concentrations of new converts and/or areas where the ratio of non-college educated/college educated is greater, both populations would have had less cumulative exposure to the BYU honor code.

  • http://www.burningbosom.com Andrew Ainsworth

    P.S.

    KC, you are totally going to get kicked out of BYU for writing this post and starting this firestorm of a discussion. Seriously. If someone else doesn’t report you to the Honor Code Office for this, I will. I’d start packing your bags now, buddy. :)

  • http://bookofmormononline.net KC Kern

    *gulp*
    I thought I was being rather moderate in my post…
    Do we still believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not the transgressions of their commenters?

  • http://www.burningbosom.com Andrew Ainsworth

    Nope, it’s all guilt by association. You’re hosed. :)

  • a random John

    MAC,

    First of all, you will need to specify if you consider ALL of the honor code as inconsequential.

    No, I don’t need to. But I’ll comply with your order because “It’s just such a trivial thing to agree to and obey.”

    I think that in the general case an honor code should require students to have academic integrity. This means no cheating in any of its forms. I do think that a real honor code would be a bond of trust between students and faculty and thus a real honor code would prohibit proctoring of exams. For many universities that would be the extent of what an honor code should be.

    In the case of BYU I could justify an honor code that goes further. It could require that students abide by local laws and have an ecclesiastical endorsement. That endorsement should require that the student agree with their ecclesiastical leader (LDS or non-LDS) that they will not have any sexual contact (defined as heavy petting?) with a person they are not married to. As for the Word of Wisdom, the ecclesiastical endorsement should cover if for LDS students though honestly I think that if a student is not LDS and is over 21 they should be allowed to drink. I think that a campus wide smoking ban is more than reasonable and that banning smoking in BYU approved housing (the evils of which are an issue for another day) is reasonable. I’m not sure that the rules regarding smoking need to be part of the honor code. Drugs would be covered by the agreement to abide by local laws.

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen Marsh

    Nick Literski
    Feb 22nd, 2008 at 1:57 pm Edit

    wow…so people with beards aren’t trustworthy now?

    Nick, I refuse to let you call me untrustworthy when I have a beard, that isn’t fair and is a gratuitous insult to my wife’s preferences.

  • Julie K

    I took a psychology class at a state university a few years back. During a class discussion, the (non LDS, single) grad student that taught the class told us that she was considering transfering to BYU for continued studies, but her decision was heavily weighted against doing it because she didn’t want to go 2 years without sex.
    Point being that the honor code is not just for Mormons.

    And, I have had several of my kids attend BYU and BYU-I.
    I like the honor code.
    When we have guests (girlfriends, boyfriends, fiances)in our home during breaks from school I remind everyone that inappropriate messing around will not only affect their worthiness, it will get them kicked out of school!

  • Steve M

    I largely agree with a Random John’s comments in #84.

    One of the undesirable consequences of mingling personal morality with academic standing was made apparent to me while attending a law school information conference as an undergrad. BYU put on this program to educate prospective law school applicants about law practice, law school, the application process, and other related topics. In one session, sample student applications were distributed and discussed. They were real student applications, but the names and other personal information had been removed so as to protect the applicants’ anonymity.

    One of the applicants was a female BYU grad. Law school applications typically require a disclosure of any formal academic discipline taken against the applicant as an undergrad. Accordingly, this girl indicated that as a freshman, she had been put on academic probation for “morality problems” with her boyfriend. Although it was made clear that virtually no law school (BYU included) would count this “problem” against her, I can only imagine the humiliation that she must have felt as she filled out each application. I can also imagine how silly it makes BYU look in the eyes of other institutions.

    I think an Honor Code should be restricted to academic integrity issues. I’m not a fan of letting personal chastity and other private morality questions into the mix.

  • http://bookofmormononline.net KC Kern

    For the record, BYU actually does have a designated smoking area (presumably designed for visitors who wish to have a smoke break on campus)

    It’s a little walled off area with this ramp leading up to it:


    View Larger Map

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen Marsh

    In the case of BYU I could justify an honor code that goes further. It could require that students abide by local laws and have an ecclesiastical endorsement. That endorsement should require that the student agree with their ecclesiastical leader (LDS or non-LDS) that they will not have any sexual contact (defined as heavy petting?) with a person they are not married to. As for the Word of Wisdom, the ecclesiastical endorsement should cover if for LDS students though honestly I think that if a student is not LDS and is over 21 they should be allowed to drink. I think that a campus wide smoking ban is more than reasonable and that banning smoking in BYU approved housing (the evils of which are an issue for another day) is reasonable. I’m not sure that the rules regarding smoking need to be part of the honor code. Drugs would be covered by the agreement to abide by local laws.

    I think that is what they should call the honor code.

    I’m not sure that the dress code should be wrapped into “honor” though I do understand from an administrative viewpoint why it would be.

    Just talked with my brother, who noted that they were getting much more lax about the dress code end of things.

    I’ll respond more, in a bit.

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen Marsh

    Hmm, I’ll post a rebuttal, titled A Style of Our Own on February 25, in the p.m. (we had an open slot there).

  • Ann

    Are the dress and grooming standards a subset of the honor code? Or are they separate standards unfortunately governed by the same office?

    I can certainly understand having a student code of conduct relating to personal and academic behavior referred to as an “honor code.”

  • rbc

    RE: 20

    Is there really a stigma for those who did not go to BYU? Isn’t enough that we have to deal with the insufferable BYU grads who think BYU is an elite school and parade their conformity with the HC in front of us rubes. Now you’re suggesting those of us who didn’t attend BYU are stigmatized?!?!? Am I really destined to a life of spiritual servitude to my BYU graduate masters? Does a person’s choice of college really affect their social standing in the church, or potential for callings?

    As to the OP, it’s apodictic the effects of the HC are felt way beyond the confines of the BYU campus. It’s silly to argue otherwise. The real argument is whether or not it’s a good thing.

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen Marsh

    Is there really a stigma for those who did not go to BYU? Not that I know of.

    And the stigma of not attending BYU and participate in the church is way too hard to bear.

    I’m pretty sure that was a joke.

  • http://bookofmormononline.net KC Kern

    Ann #91: It is. The main points of the honor code are:
    * Be Honest
    * Obey the Law and All Campus Policies
    * Live a Chaste and Virtuous Life
    * Respect Others
    * Abstain from Substances
    * Encourage Others
    * Observe Dress and Grooming Standards
    * Use Clean Language
    See: http://honorcode.byu.edu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3612&Itemid=4643

  • Jeff Spector

    “Is there really a stigma for those who did not go to BYU?”

    It was a joke. Luckily, when caught in the middle between a Cougar and a Ute, I find it easy to say, ” sorry, I don’t have a dog in this fight.” It’s those Harvard/MIT guys you have to watch out for!

  • Peter Brown

    Once again, I find myself at the end of a long argument after the steam has gone out, but needed to put in my two cents.

    I don’t think we can separate the HC Dress and Gromming standards from 1968. We’re dealing with a leftover sense of hippification that the broader culture attached to long hair and beards at that time. Dressing that way in 1968, while an expession of individuality, told the wider culture that you were a post-modern thinker, culturally liberal, sexually liberated, anti-American in the multi-cultural sense, and possibly part of new new-Buddhist religion of drug worship. NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH WHAT I JUST DESCRIBED, I’m just relating the perception of society (LDS and Non alike). These things did not realate to beards and long hair 100 years ago when the same dress and grooming standards represented staid conservative provincial thoughts and beliefs. Nowdays beards and long hair don’t have the same reputation culturally–although there is a leftover retro 1960′s plug for the style–in the broader sense it means redneck white trash. Thus, it remains in force. As baby boomers age, retire, and die, this conception may die as well.

    i suspect since BYU and the LDS church want their members to represent conservative dress standards, if what is deemed conservative changes, the dress and grooming standards may change. In 50 years, we may have beards and long hair again.

    Let me wax philosophical here. The Church culture is philosophically “modern” in its outlook, being that it supports a discipline of thought and behavior that reflects an inner good. This is very old-fashioned but guided the Western world from the Enlightenment to the Age of Reason in the 19th Century. Post-modernism is simply a world where each individual conceptializes truth according to personalized standards. The Churh culture is naive with respect to post-modernism and has yet to fully grasp how it actually HAS benefits to truth-seeking, the Atonement, and charity. That’s the issue BYU/the Church has not dealt with and why it offends people who are more “sophisticated” in their thinking. On the other hand, post-modernism, I believe, has pretty much run its course. Like all other philosophical movements, it has its flaws (radical egalitarianism) and eventually dies and something else replaces it.

  • http://www.blognitivedissonance.com danithew

    Responding to John Hamer in #77 …

    John, I was just thinking that the Church has seen the martyrdom of its first Prophet, suffered mobbings, crossed the plains, etc. and etc. … and after all this time, something as inane as the BYU Honor Code is going to “kill” the church.

  • John Hamer

    Danithew (#97): The death of a founder is a critical moment for any institution, as is the transition from the founding generation to the inheritor generations. The Puritans had a lot of trouble passing their fervor onto their descendents.

    However mobbings, crossing the plains, and etc. (e.g., Federal opposition to polygamy and theocracy) were actually quite helpful to the institution. Although individuals suffered, the institution greatly benefitted by these factors. Without them, the LDS church would certainly be different today. I think it would also be smaller, weaker and further along in its institutional life-cycle — i.e., well into its decline — had these factors not aided it.

    In my assessments above, I was citing these out-dated grooming standards at LDS church colleges, LDS headquarters and especially among missionaries as a factor that is contributing to the institution’s decline over decades and decades to come. I think it’s a negative factor especially because I think the policies hinder missionary outreach. When I say that this factor is “killing the church,” I mean that the same way that smoking is killing a teenager. It’s not killing the teenager like a car accident instantly kills. It’s killing slowly, over the course of what may be a long, long lifetime.

    The LDS church will be around for centuries, regardless of almost anything it does or does not do. Meanwhile, the only thing that is certain in assessing where we’re at is that the heady Rodney Stark predictions (that the church would number in the 100s of millions this century) will not come to pass. That kind of growth isn’t going to happen. But as I said on Stephen Wellington’s church growth thread, making other long-term predictions about membership numbers requires reading tea leaves, and every soothsayer is liable to read those as he or she sees fit.

  • rbc

    Re: 95

    Thanks for clarifying. Now that I’m not being stigmatized for not having attended any of the BYUs, I have to find another justification for this chip on my shoulder towards self righteous BYU graduates.

  • a random John

    John Hamer,

    Are there similar overly broad “honor” codes at any Community of Christ institutions? Your statement that:

    However mobbings, crossing the plains, and etc. (e.g., Federal opposition to polygamy and theocracy) were actually quite helpful to the institution. Although individuals suffered, the institution greatly benefitted by these factors. Without them, the LDS church would certainly be different today. I think it would also be smaller, weaker and further along in its institutional life-cycle — i.e., well into its decline — had these factors not aided it.

    made me think of the RLDS/CoC, though I’m not sure if you intended it to. In any case it seems that we don’t have to wonder what difference those experiences made, we can look at the two branches of Mormonism and see the results.

    In any case, I’m curious about standards at CoC institutions and the influence or lack thereof that they might have on the broader CoC population. Thanks.

  • John Hamer

    ARJ (#100): I believe Graceland University (the Community of Christ version of BYU) has a no-alcohol/no-sex policy. I think that’s fairly normal for church-sponsored universities. I seem to recall my friends who went to St. Olaf’s in Minnesota (a Lutheran school) telling stories about these kinds of codes (and skirting them).

    I don’t think the no-alcohol/no-sex part of BYU’s honor code is a problem; it’s the outward conformity/grooming standards that I see as problematic. Graceland University doesn’t have those.

    * * *
    On the CoC/LDS comparison. It doesn’t always work, but external antagonisms sometimes create an environment that strengthens institutions. In a lot of ways, I think our hardline policies on Cuba and North Korea have perversely strengthened regimes that might otherwise have collapsed under their own incompetence. The Federal government’s campaign against Utah Mormonism in the later 19th century helped galvenize people — who had been diverse converts — into a strong ethnicity.

    The reorganized Saints never had that external antagonism after the martyrdom. Emma and her family got along with their new neighbors in Nauvoo. Non-Mormons elected Joseph III a justice of the peace. Joseph III deliberately avoided gathering his people together because that was always what led to trouble in the early church. When they finally founded a church colony, they named the town Lamoni (after the pacifist king of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis) to emphasize their desire to be at peace.

    Perversely, successfully avoiding conflct may have kept the institution from developing the fortitude that results from weathering a conflict.

    Regardless, the Community of Christ has had a few institutional problems throughout its history that the LDS church lacks. The first is a much less leader-focussed and much more individual-centered membership. There are good things about that, but it does invite schism. The second is that they don’t have a contained homeland where they are the majority; they’ve always been among their Protestant and Catholic neighbors. Finally they’ve always been a Burger King with a McDonald’s out there. Being #2 (over time) is a marketing nightmare.

    Their situation right now is much more critical than the LDS church’s and yet because they are so much smaller, have so much less institutional rigidity, and because their leadership is so much more dynamic, I think their problems have more potential to be reversed.

  • a random John

    John Hamer,

    Thanks for your reply. While what you describe confirms my uninformed guesses. However I wonder if the international arm of the LDS Church might have the potential for vitality. The problem is unleashing that potential.

  • Latter-day Guy

    Late to the party, but recently on the same wavelength…

    A recent post.

  • hawkgrrrl

    Latter-day Guy – great post!

    The honor code has three main components: honesty/academic (most schools have this), worthiness (usually only religious schools), and PR (Euro-Disney is a comparable institution).

    I agree with John Hamer that equating outward appearance with worthiness is what is problematic about the code and what kills the church, one self-righteous member at a time. And it’s the same problem with Mitt Romney’s failed bid. The image appeals to some as a superficial icon of days-gone-by or a clean-cut ideal, but on the downside, this kind of cultural conformity makes us less authentic, real human beings with whom other real, authentic human beings can relate and connect.

    To say it kills the church may sound like hyperbole to some, but coming from a Mormon viewpoint, how can we not see the parallels to the great apostacy and the falling away of Christianity that necessitated the restoration? When non-commandments are treated like gospel or the philosophies of men creep in, that’s the beginning of (church-level)apostacy. And it’s also a form of pride vs. humility to look down on others who don’t have that image, pride which leads to personal apostacy.

    The honor code is certainly not the only place this is happening in the church–if it were only at BYU, the problem would at least be contained. Unfortunately, the honor code gives a patina of respectability to baseless arguments for cultural norms within the church. Clinging to a 1950s ideal, whether in Provo or elsewhere, has as many negative and insidious connotations as positive ones.

    Too bad that there seems to be a trend toward adding even more training wheels vs. building more confident and balanced bikers.

  • Carlos U.

    For those who don’t want to send their kids to BYU: Thank you. More space for my kids to what is an academically excellent, well-respected and unique school where you are schooled on the Gospel and the Spirit as nowhere else, besides a world-class secular education. As it is, going to BYU by itself is the equivalent of a 70% scholarship. Personally, I counted it a great privilege to be admitted and was thankful for the opportunity. And keeping minor rules about how to dress and behave never felt like a heavy burden to me.

    I’ve been (and attended) other schools

    As the world descends further and further into a spiral of sin and decadence, people who refuse to go along with the crowd (including giving in to the worldly standard of appearance) will stand out more and more, attracting those whose souls resonate to the noble and good. It did for me.

  • A. Lawrence

    Because BYU’s rule makers mistakenly decided that facial hair is somehow dishonorable, many short-sighted students are doing what they do best by looking beyond the mark and concluding that facial hair is therefore satanic as well. BYU’s Honor Code is being mistaken for commandments, subsequently causing there to exist a great amount of tension among students with differing opinions about the said code of guidelines. The “righteous” students seem to judge their subordinates with the attitude that the same are endorsing Satan’s purposes by having sideburns, and acting their age by not respecting a curfew.

    For three months and despite being a current BYU student, I had sideburns that went to all the way to my jaw. I was informed by a member of my ward that “People with sideburns are statistically much more likely to smoke pot.” A co-worker at my job told me that my “having sideburns is just as bad as it would be [for me] to grow and smoke marijuana in my dorm room, because either way it’s non-compliant to a contract which [I] signed.” This is the kind of daft, ridiculous comment that is so representative of the brain-washing caused by the implementation of agency-depriving plans.

    On a more sarcastic note, if I had known that hair naturally growing on my face was directly related to drug addiction, I would have chopped my whole face off already… “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” Or, alternatively (according to the Honor Code Vigilante Nazi Police), “Wherefore if thy face offend thee (by growing hair), cut it off, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into BYU without a face, rather than having stubble to be cast into everlasting fire (which surely happens if you have facial hair).” I find it interesting that people are granted access to the temple with beards, whereas a week ago, I was threatened with expulsion from the university due to a bit of scruff. I respect that having a cleanly shaved face will help me in the professional world, but again, my implementation of said business tactic ought to be up to me rather than being forced upon me by some overly zealous rule makers who are blinded by the bubble in which they live.

    With respect to the curfew, I’ve also been informed: “Let’s be honest, nothing good ever happens after midnight.” Apparently, at midnight my behavior magically changes, such that I no longer have the ability to exercise self control over my actions. Obviously, if I’m with a girl after that time (whether she be a date or simply a friend), like at 12:01, or 12:02… (maybe even 12:30!) then I am under the influence of Satan, because my “judgment is clouded” and I am lost in an eerie oblivion of sin and despair, and I am sure to engage in some sort of promiscuous, questionable, condemnable activity. Interestingly however, on Fridays, Satan doesn’t have control until 1:30 am. Probably because he’s on a date until that time himself, but the curfew in Hell is the same as it is at BYU. What an ironic correlation!

    A side note: One of my professors once suggested that the facial hair clause of the honor code was likely generated by some rather large sasquatch women who got tired of being judged for having facial hair themselves. So out of spite for those individuals who demanded that they shave, these sasquatch decided to deny everyone that privilege. Sounds plausible to me. It could also possibly be similar to the ridiculous laws that exist in some states like, “It is illegal to wear jeans in public on Tuesdays in Pennsylvania.”

    I am for the abolishing of the “Honor” code, and the implementation of a new code which includes no more than those standards outlined by the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the standard used for the establishment of the university.

  • A. Lawrence

    For those of you who are wondering why I don’t leave BYU (since I’m obviously not very satisfied with the experience I’m having), it’s simply because I made the mistake of coming to BYU before I discovered how ridiculous it is here. Now that I’ve finished three years here, pretty much all of my friends are here, so it would be purposeless to transfer universities being so close to the end of my program, leaving all my friends. Believe me though, graduate school will take place ELSEWHERE!!!

  • P.T.

    “I am convinced that the pressures of conformity to the honor code more often than not lead to hypocrisy rather than righteousness.”

    You hit the nail right on the head with this. I left BYU because I couldn’t stand the hypocrisy. I’d rather be at a “non honor code” school where I know who people are. I know who to stay away from that way.

    I’ll be a an honest person and a good example of the church because that’s who I am–not because I’m worried about getting kicked out of a school full of self righteous individuals who are worried about how they appear to others.

  • Michael

    As a non Mormon/BYU student, I find it interesting that so much attention is paid to an Honor Code that allowed Humanities Professor Thomas W Mackay,to seduce numerous BYU female coeds during his tenur at this university. I’d like to hear from anyone who may know of this professor and his “mentoring tactics”.

  • T. Jones

    I am a member and did not attend BYU. I have always struggled with this ides.
    I have a beard and i know there are some in my ward who look down upon me for not being clean shaven. They are happy to have me help people in the ward with temporal things like moving or snow removal but they are thinking that I am not fully committed. I always evaluate myself on how I see myself and how Christ sees me. Truth is eternal and trends come and go. The appearance that the church has adopted is now an eternal truth. It does serve a purpose. People act the way they dress. Also some ask for the church to relax their standards and many people would go out and get tattoos and body mod and then say that people should not judge them. groom yourself in a way that you feel comfortable at the temple.

  • T. Jones

    What I meant to say. “The appearance that the church has adopted is not an eternal truth.”

  • http://www.thumper300zx.com D. Borough

    “it introduces a pharasitical framework of hedges around the law for the community to follow, which ultimately leads to “looking beyond the mark.” I am convinced that the pressures of conformity to the honor code more often than not lead to hypocrisy rather than righteousness.”

    Hits the nail on the head for me. BEYOND THE MARK — my bro. in law recently accepted a calling, and a prerequisite to being set apart was that he had to be clean shaven. It was for HOME TEACHING DISTRICT LEADER. It was announced via letter from the stake presidency that ALL leadership positions in his stake, in the priesthood, would require the appointee to be CLEAN SHAVEN. So, if you want to serve, and have been called to serve, you must first shave, and then you become CHOSEN, not just called. Seriously? What a horrible example. What hypocrisy. If this is to emulate or become less “visible”, does that mean the stake president will also subsidize my look by purchasing a nice suit, an older face, and a $75,000 luxury car? (sorry for the stereotype, but the same is happening to anyone required to shave).

    I told my nine year old about what happened. He thought it was the silliest thing he’s heard. But, he also became worried about his Dad. I asked him if he thought his Dad might get in trouble with the Bishop for feeling this way. He said he was worried. Then I gave him an analogy. I said, “Son, I want you to clean your room.” (we assume he agrees happily — ha, that never happens :)) “Thanks Son, however, I do not want you to do so with the yellow shirt you have on. The rest of the people in our family prefer blue shirts. If you put on a blue shirt, you can clean your room. Otherwise, I prefer you do not clean the room, because it won’t be the same.” Really, to me, it is this simple. COMPLETE and UTTER superficiality. It’s very unbecoming. Very sad. The HONOR CODE should not be called the HONOR CODE. Most people that get in trouble do so because they are reported — is that ON YOUR HONOR? No. It’s on being reported. HONOR is personal. You are not HONORABLE for following a set of rules that if you do not follow, will jeopardize your future. You are honorable for following the gospel, as set out by Christ, WITH NO THOUGHT of reward, but only because you feel you are doing the will of God.

    For people that say “you act the way you dress”? No, you act the way you learn to act, and the way you choose to act. Culture has effects on this — we have simply latched onto a conservative, long standing style of dress and grooming. Big surprise. Other churches latch on to other styles, and then keep those for decades. Other countries latch on to their styles, and have had them around for 100′s of years. You can socially limit your possibilities by conforming to dress. But that shouldn’t be true within the church. Jesus would not deny you the ability to serve in his kingdom because you chose to have a beard. It’s simply trivial and a respect of man, not of God. Jesus and Heavenly Father, if described correctly, are FIXED IN IMMORTALITY with facial hair. It was part of Jesus’ culture on earth, but not God’s. Somehow, God’s culture in heaven allows it.

    Anyway — I can go on an on. The issue here isn’t really about how one dresses or grooms — it’s about blind conformity. I don’t believe our local leaders aspire to gain future control of our actions and thoughts, but allowing someone to control what you decide to do with your phsyical appearance is invasive and dangerous. Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ often warned us of hypocritical leadership, and even with a belief in infalliable general authorities, that doesn’t require an extension down to the smaller branches of the church (though it sure seems to be more and more that way these days).

    If my wife says I look sexy with a beard, I will first listen to her counsel on the matter. Wouldn’t you do the same to honor your spouse?

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  • Justin

    I won’t express any opinions I have about the church, however I will say that this whole argument can be summed up as such. According to these church “officials” and “School Leaders” god cares about the way you dress. I am not religious but if you call yourself a christian and allow stuff like this to take place and not stand up, then you are no christian. OVER AND OVER again in the bible jesus preffered to be around those who were dirty, whores, leppers, thieves and so on. In my humble opinion this is because these people were not fooling themselves ont he way of the world, and wouldb e more willing to actually think and attempt to understand his teachings. OVER AND OVER again jesus shunned church officials, and those who would attempt to say the will of god…..how is this any different than the modern LDS church. Really I mean if you are going to preach on jesus’s teachings maybe it is a good idea to follow them more. This extends to the honor code as once again people are allowing this control. If people were to simply stand up in overwhelming numbers there might be a change. or you can just sit down and allow it to happen, I am sure jesus would approve of apathy….. Oh yeah, jesus had a beard, so according to the modern church that makes him unfit to be called or chosen to serve….the double standards that these officials put on us is staggering to say the least.

  • Arrrr

    ^ well put, religion is (insert adjective) shit. Even so, Mormonism is retarded, there are hardly any of them left hopefully their asinine system dies out.