Thursday, March 3, 2011

BYU honor code

In case anyone wonders if BYU considers ethics, values and honor codes higher than winning at sports, this should clinch it.  After recently attaining a national ranking of 3rd in NCAA college basketball and very possibly ending up as # 1 (considering their successful season), they have removed talented player, Brandon Davies who shines at "scoring in the low post" (I kind of know what that means...) because he violated the honor code (DesNews).  It doesn't matter what he did - if it violates the code and they are made aware, swift action follows.  At BYU these things are taken seriously, in direct contrast to what was exposed in the Sports Illustrated article addressing the fact that even criminal records are overlooked in awarding sports scholarships, it seems like quite a contrast.  If they can play ball, it seems nothing else matters.  Not at BYU.  Even winning the title...even in the eleventh hour, swift consequences can take a star right out of basketball heaven.  When they insist you commit to their honor code, they mean what they say.  BYU is not a "right to play" or even "right to attend" school - one of the beauties of a private, faith-based college. 

The honor code is in many respects similar to temple recommend questions.  A quick summary:
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
Read this story about someone who's been there and his experience looking back. 

I have no doubt there have been violators in the past who were never discovered, but I applaud BYU for maintaining standards.  As a result the school is consistently the most "sober" and has a good track record for ethical behavior and academic excellence.  They aren't perfect because people aren't perfect, but they do have a clear line of demarcation and students agree to this when they come.  Perfection is actually defined as whole and complete.  In their goal to prepare people for success in all areas of life (spirituality included) they do meet that standard in my opinion. Some students have found the code to be restrictive and enforcement of the letter of the law can sometimes result in problems.  My son grows a heavy beard and during the school day when he attended BYU, he was accused of not being clean shaven by late afternoon.  Unless he took an afternoon shaving break, it could be perceived (and was on one occasion) to be a violation of grooming standards.  This was a bit of a nit-picking by the honor code office staff and he had to answer on this.  Needless to say it left a bad taste in his mouth.  He got his degree, which was his goal, but he felt it was a bit extreme.

Even so, it is important to me that BYU enforces the honor code - realistically (and ideally with common sense, though the human enforcers may be lacking that trait at times) and without pressure by the sports department to bend the rules to win a title, or even a game.  They are teaching a way of life at BYU; not just making super stars and winning trophies which moth and dust doth corrupt (Matthew 6:19 KJV).  Admittedly, I'm not a real sports fan, but I do value ethical behavior by all people.  It's tough to get into BYU and if a student doesn't want that kind of education, they shouldn't take up the space.

This news item is getting national attention.  Read more here
...just saying....


  1. The lesson Brandon Davies is learning, and the lessons that others are learning about personal consequences that come to them when they violate the oath they took upon entry into BYU is one thing. It makes headlines and is a valuable lesson.

    But I haven't heard anyone yet talk about the equally valuable lesson that is also being taught. No one seems to be talking about the lesson that is being taught to the other members of the team who have spent countless hours and have devoted their entire sports careers to building a team. A very successful team. A team that has now been devastated by the choices of one team member.

    Yes, the consequences for Davies as an individual are hard, but what should be the hardest consequence for him to endure is the lifelong knowledge of what his choices did to the other members of his team. He has cost them opportunities that can never be replaced.

    That's a lesson that goes way beyond basketball, or any other sport. It's a lesson that has meaning in family relationships as well.

  2. The predominant thing that gives me an exhilarating feeling of this situation, is the TEAM. A slightly different angle than from what comment of Ken Miller came from. This about The TEAM, despite the far and wide devastation resultant to a weakness in character or choices per one team member which probably blind-sided most or all the rest of the TEAM members. No matter! Davies is still considered their "brother" by evidently all the team members. And instead of withdrawing from him in frustration and exasperation to do with what he has "done" to them (namely the ultimate betrayal to all of them and to the TEAM'S overall goal this year- which goal probably never will be open again to any BYU team in all the future!), something else has arisen...
    It is not difficult to feel the deep LOVE and commitment to Davies from the TEAM to see him thru all this. Their 'family member', is ultimately what matters more to them, than the severe costs to the 'family'. The sight of Davies there on the bench in street clothes during Saturday's game, WITH his TEAM, he being able to attempt (I could only somewhat guesstimate how the underlying pain of his mistake must feel to him) to hold his head up high given his knowledge that his teammates still love him and hold him in high esteem, is perhaps one of the most moving sports stories there has ever been. I would think that many many people would agree with that. I believe, that the lesson therein, is what we all would do well to learn ourselves what BYU's TEAM has shown to us, and live it better. BYU's TEAM has caused all who think deeply at all, to be taken aback at what their mindset is towards Davies. Taken aback, in that we find it would be so very difficult if not probably impossible, for us ourselves to live the same higher law this BYU TEAM has laid out for us!


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