Thursday, March 3, 2011

Honoring BYU's Honor Code

AP Image

Recently there has been a lot of attention on the Honor Code at BYU. Brandon Davies our starting center was dismissed from the team for a "serious" violation of that code. Before I say much more you should probably read the code. See you in a few minutes.

Here it is

Here is a summary:
"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.)"

Welcome back. Enjoy the read?

I attended BYU both for undergraduate and graduate degrees. This might sound strange but one of the selling points of BYU is it's Honor Code. There are many wonderful institutions of higher learning in the country. They each have their own flavor and attributes. There are a few other schools with honor codes as well so we are not entirely unique.
I believe the Honor Code is an asset to BYU because it acts as an anchor. Many people would really not be encumbered by the often negative ramifications of alcohol, drugs, smoking, and sexual behavior outside of marriage if they observed the Honor Code. Sure there are plenty of examples of people who drink in moderation, smoke modestly and practice sex using condoms. That still doesn't change the fact that there are a large number of people who think that even one drink of alhohol is more then the body really needs. Many believe that even one sexual encounter before marriage makes fidelity in marriage very difficult.

The Honor Code is a common commitmment shared by a large block of students (33K) at BYU. They do their best to live up to the code to receive the comfort of knowing they will have happier marital relationships and greater control of their physical bodies by not encumbering them with alcohol. When you can walk around a college campus and trust that for the most part everyone is on the same page when it comes to morality it sure takes a lot of the stress of college life out of the equation.

I have got to say that for one who tries to live the Honor Code even after graduating there is a lot of stress in life I do not have to experience. I never have to worry about how am going to get home from a party, because the parties I attend are serving lemonade. You may laugh now. :) And yes, you can have fun without alcohol.

I also believe that the idea of sexual fidelity to my wife and her to me is very comforting. She also went to BYU. She also agreed to live by the code. Knowing that makes it very easy to be married to her. I know she values fidelity. I can trust her. Some may say that is silly and quaint or maybe old fashioned. That is ok, we are used to it. Yet I draw tremendous comfort in it. When two people agree with each other to live by a code like the BYU Honor Code it engenders trust. Trust is the root of a loving relationship. 

Let me end with restating that there are many great people who don't live the Honor Code. They have their own codes of conduct. Any code of conduct that leads one to live a more fullfilled life is probably a good one. I hope this post is helpful to anyone who was not familiar with BYU's code. I hope you have a greater understanding and appreciating for why so many people choose to adopt this code and live it in their lives.

I need to say one more thing about Brandon. It is true that having a code means there on consequences. That is one of the reasons the code has staying power. I feel terrible for the guy. I am sure if he could turn the clock back a few weeks he would make a different choice. The reality is he can't and now he is suffering the consequences. I know the administration are doing everything in their power to help Brandon return to good standing yet there is a debt that has to be paid for the broken commitment. I am sure Brandon came forward and confessed what had happened on his own. I know from the press conference that the coaches and admin immediately rallied around him. The Honor Code must be upheld to make it worth anything yet helping someone who has messed up is equally important. There is a "restitution" process, there is a route to get back in good standing. I am confident that he will take that route and will be back on the team. I wish him, his family, the team and all those involved in this process the very best. 

Here is some respectful comments on the code from ESPN, followed by a number of articles that have recently been written on the topic:

BYU Honor Code Unrealistic?

Davies' dismissal at BYU puts spotlight on schools' codes

Honorable Actions: BYU's Brandon Davies Apologizes to His Teammates

Vai Talks BYU Honor Code

Could you (or your kids) live by the BYU honor code?


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