I expect this note, if printed in the Daily Universe, to receive heated responses denouncing it as unrighteous and heretical, an unfortunately common response on BYU campus when alternative ideas are offered. Maybe it is a tired subject, but daily reminders compel me to write this. I understand that this is a private university and as such BYU can create any code of conduct it believes prudent. However, as it is also a church institution, it should represent the ideals of the church while employing means to achieve these ideals that are compatible with the gospel.
This isn’t Sunday school so I will spare you the reminder of Satan’s plan, or Joseph Smith’s quote about ‘correct principles’ and self governance. Even though High School is still a recent memory for some, most of us have left that dependent stage of life behind us and are ready now, yes now! to be adults in the world and the church. But how can we really be independent (in critical thinking, self expression, and anything else) when we are compelled to conform to an antiquated and artificial standard set by a disconnected administration? How much more rewarding is it for you to actively make good decisions, as opposed to those decisions being made for you (or having the opportunity to make bad decisions limited)? When can we grow up and practice for real life, not this vivarium. And when has any rule contained a person with a mind set to break it?
Know that I am not arguing the right of the university to have a code of behavior, nor am I saying that I am a victim. I do remember signing the honor code when I was admitted. I am committed to follow it. But neither you nor I should believe that by committing ourselves to this code we surrendered any right to question it. It may be based on good intentions, but that does not and should not remove doubt of its effectiveness or necessity.
A brief example of what I believe should be changed:
**Beards and Hair: **The nuances of this rule reveal it as silly and outdated. Beards and long hair weren’t against the honor code until the 1970s. Mustaches at the time were still considered fashionable and compatible with a clean appearance so they were allowed to stay. This rule is loosely based on scripture and church authorities on the subject of clean appearances, yet it was created nearly 40 years ago as a response to cultural changes. If we have a rule based on a time and culture that is much different than our time and culture, we need to re-evaluate this rule so it best suits us now. The stupidity of being told to shave before you can take a test, or use school facilities is only slightly eclipsed by the beard card and what it represents.
**Curfew: **I don’t expect this rule to stop anyone committed to late night liaisons. It only serves as a reminder to how little trust the administration has in its students. Those committed to being morally clean don’t need it, and those uncommitted don’t follow it. What, then, is its purpose?
I could continue for several pages outlining other ways I’ve seen the university disregard its students (parking, student government, housing, etc.), however I would like to dedicate this to what I see as imperfections in the honor code.
The honor code has changed before, evidenced by beards/long hair now forbidden for men and pants/jeans now allowed for ladies. In fact, the honor code as we know it was non-existent before 1949 and since then has gone through many changes. I hope it does again. I hope others who feel the same as I do will raise their voices to those in power to change it. I am very grateful to be a student at BYU. I know it can be better than it now is. A roommate of mine and old mission companion said it well when he said, “I know the church is true, but BYU isn’t.”