Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Honor Code

Honor Code Statement

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. . . . If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things (Thirteenth Article of Faith).
As a matter of personal commitment, faculty, administration, staff, and students of Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University—Hawaii, Brigham Young University—Idaho, and LDS Business College seek to demonstrate in daily living on and off campus those moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and will
    Be honest Live a chaste and virtuous life Obey the law and all campus policies Use clean language Respect others Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse Participate regularly in church services Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code
Specific policies embodied in the Honor Code include (1) the Academic Honesty Policy, (2) the Dress and Grooming Standards, (3) the Residential Living Standards, and (4) the Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement. (Refer to institutional policies for more detailed information.)
I've been reading a lot of Honor Code bashing today that has stemmed from the dismissal of a rather prominent BYU basketball player from what has likely been the most talented and successful team BYU has had in a long, long time.

The fact that the infraction of the honor code happened right before March Madness and the tournaments began, has really brought a lot of press and attention - and more, a lot of negative feelings towards BYU and their standards for living.

It blows my mind to a point where I am too frustrated to type. And because I am feeling a little guilty. I think that there are very few of us that have gone through our tenure at BYU and have walked away knowing that we lived the rules of the Honor Code 100%. I know that I was not always kicking the boys out of my apartment after midnight or turning up my nose when someone offered me the answer to my Latin homework. However, I can say that whenever I got my Ecclesiastical Endorsement (a statement you turn in once a year signed by you and your bishop or ecclesiastical leader saying that you are following the Honor Code), the questions are whether or not you are striving to live the Honor Code. Which, I think leaves a little wiggle room for mistakes - not blatantly breaking the code of conduct set forth by the code.

For those that are confused about what is required of BYU students, I've copied the questions that the Ecclesiastical Endorsement asks the bishop:

• If LDS, is the student in full fellowship (without any informal or formal probation, disfellowship or excommunication from, or voluntary disaffiliation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)?
• Does the student live a chaste and virtuous life, including avoidance of pornography, abstinence from sexual relations outside of marriage, and abstinence from homosexual conduct?
• Does the student live the Word of Wisdom by abstaining from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, coffee, tea, and other harmful substances? (Please notice that there is no mention of caffeine in this list!)
• If LDS, does the student demonstrate appropriate and consistent Church activity?
• Is the student honest?

As I read this list, I am completely baffled by what, exactly, those outside of BYU have a problem with. BYU is very clear about their standards for their students. They want us living a life of superior moral conduct in the way we handle ourselves, our relationships with others and within our students. BYU stresses integrity, honesty and improvement of self.

While reading the comments on, I read a few comments that praised BYU for sticking to their moral code and not trying to find a way to keep the player on the team for the tournament. Surely losing such a valuable player will cost BYU its greatest basketball season, but there are more important things in life than sports - and understanding consequences and sticking to the decision in integrity is one of them. Disappointing though it may be.

I was more disappointed in the rest of the comments though. Aside from the typical Mormon bashing that goes on whenever members or references to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are made (i.e. polygamy, racism - which played a huge part in these comments due to the fact that the player was black; the argument of whether or not we are Christians, etc.), people on this particular board were stuck on the fact that the Honor Code prohibits extramarital sex. They called this "rule" an antiquated, backwards and unrealistic expectation of college-aged students. Further comments suggested that BYU students are not able to have fun because of the lack of alcohol and sex on campus. "What do they do for fun...knit booties?" One commenter asks. BYU is criticized because the "real world doesn't work like this," and told that "most Judeo-Christian virtues don't hold in modern society." They suggested that BYU should go over their standards and adjust them to fit in with worldly standards and to "stop pretending that [sex] doesn't happen [all the time]." Our "Puritan system" is considered "a joke" amongst those who are looking in from the outside. My favorite comment is: "If all schools had an honor code, colleges wouldn't exist."

Because everyone knows that the point of college is to go get wasted, fool around with as many people as possible and get laid as often as possible...

...Not for an education.

The more I read, the more disgusted I was because I began to take it personally. I'm being judged for holding myself to a set of morals, values and conduct that are considered "antiquated." These people posting on the board insist that this basketball player should not be told what he can and cannot do, and yet, they are totally ignoring the fact that those that sign the Honor Code are holding themselves to those same standards (or should be)... not just because that is what the school is expecting of us, but because we believe in them as well.

I am so disappointed that these things that have only been openly and generally accepted in society for the past 45 years, are now thought to be inevitable. That expectations to abstain are completely ludicrous because it's "natural." That people are being mocked and ridiculed for holding themselves to a higher standard - as if there is something wrong with that!

What's wrong is the fact that the world has accepted this general decay of morals and values. That no one wants to take a stand against what is wrong and lazy and contains not an ounce of self-control. I do not think it is wrong to expect to work towards something. In a world of instant gratification, it's too bad that people really think it so strange to put off natural desires for a proper time and place. Or to abstain completely from things like drugs and alcohol, just for the sake of doing it. It doesn't have to be inevitable.

It's made me wish that I had been a better example. There are things in the Honor Code that I don't necessarily agree with (the beard clause is my biggest complaint), but as a whole, I think it is a wonderful code of conduct that only pushes you to be a better person with more discipline, self-control and integrity.

And I fail to see what is wrong with that or how that can possibly go out of style?


  1. So annoying to me anytime people start bringing up those comments about how it's unrealistic for anyone to ever abide by that kind of code. Actually, most of the 30,000 enrolled students at BYU don't have an issue with it, although that's not say that they are without temptation.

  2. That's a great point Chris. And that is only in Provo. There are those abiding by the same kind of standards in Hawaii and Rexburg, and then similar type standards in Virginia. Not to mention all the other religious schools found throughout the country.

    We're not the only ones that have high morals and standards. Yet, it is generally accepted that "kids will be kids" and will get into bad things. When really, I think most people want to be good and will be honorable if they have that as a standard to look to.

  3. "Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" 2 Nephi 15:20

    1. You can be a Mormon or not and still keep certain rules.
    2. I listened to a few radio stations just blow up on the "out of date" concept of no sex before marriage and that BYU wont be able to recruit if they don't change things. What I have to say to that is, "ask Adam if the rules have changed since he was around." Not much, they never will. That's the way it is my friends.

  4. congrats... I just linked your comment to my FB


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