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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : BYU’s Honor Code Strikes Again » BYU’s Honor Code Strikes Again

BYU’s Honor Code Strikes Again

MCQ - March 3, 2011

As has now been widely reported, one of the key players (who I won’t name here) on the BYU basketball team has been dismissed from the team for doing something that most college students (perhaps especially athletes) consider to be a normal part of college life (had consensual sex with his girlfriend, according to ESPN).  This player was raised in Provo, so he knew what he was getting into at BYU, but that doesn’t make his fate any less tragic for him or his team.

This is, of course, not the first time this has happened.  Harvey Unga, a legitimate star of the football team in years past, recently faced the same situation, missing his senior year and changing drastically the fortunes of his team.  But this loss hits especially hard for BYU’s basketball team because, unlike Unga’s situation, it comes during the season and at a time when BYU had just achieved the rank of #3 in the nation, was looking to clinch the league title, and potentially make a run at the final four in the NCAA tournament which will take place this month.  In other words, the timing of this could not have been worse.

On the one hand, credit BYU for sticking to their guns and (presumably—we still don’t know the full range of the punishment that could be forthcoming) treating all students the same, even if they happen to be a very important athlete on a really good team.  On the other hand, one has to question the wisdom of an honor code that results in this kind of public embarassment for a young person and harm to his team when his actions don’t appear to be anything that most would consider to be harmful to anyone. 

Please  understand that I’m not disparaging the honor coder per se, nor am I saying that exceptions should be made for anyone, I’m merely suggesting that, to most people, this seems like a very antiquated rule, and one that is particularly problematic in its enforcement, because there’s just no way it can truly be enforced evenhandedly.

After all, let’s be honest folks, there are a lot of people who have violated the honor code at BYU in precisely this way (some, no doubt, repeatedly) who were never caught or had a shred of consequences happen to them.  The only way one can be caught on this rule is if someone gets pregnant or someone tells.  I don’t know how this situation was revealed, but I’m sure there are any number of people close to the team that wish very much that it hadn’t been.  It seems selective, even unfair, to enforce a rule just against those unlucky enough to be found out, when it can be so easily violated privately, with no consequences.  Especially when the consequences for those unlucky enough to get caught can be so embarassing personally, and so serious to their teammates.

Please don’t quote the scriptures at me, or tell me that the students know what they are signing when they sign the honor code.  I know all that.  Everyone knows all that.  Just tell me how you think this ends up being fair, because I’m not sure it is.

133 Comments »

  1. It probably isn’t fair but then much of life isn’t. Plenty of people fudge their tax returns and yet relatively few are ever caught. Does that mean that those few should not be punished because we know many are getting away with it?

    It is sad that in the case of athletes the violation becomes public knowledge. But that goes with the territory. There are plenty of (perhaps unfair)advantages that BYU athletes receive over ‘regular’ students.

    Comment by gomez — March 3, 2011 @ 3:59 am

  2. What’s the motivation behind the person who told the honor code office of the violation? Could it have been used as revenge against Davies for some offense he did to this person?

    Comment by Dan — March 3, 2011 @ 5:33 am

  3. “question the wisdom of an honor code that results in this kind of public embarrassment”

    But, of course, it is not the HONOR CODE that CAUSED the embarrassment, but the VIOLATION of the honor code, for which the affected individual is responsible.

    Of course it is true than many students violate the HC by cheating, smoking, drinking, swearing, growing beards etc. and don’t get caught. They risk it, however. The “everybody does it” defense is pretty petty when it is a totally unambiguous violation.

    I can’t get too worked up about this: presumably everyone involved (except the baby!) knew what they were risking. I hope even Provo High does a stint on birth control.

    Besides, can’t the kid just transfer and play elsewhere? Not this season, obviously, but as long as he is not a senior, I don’t see how this has ruined his life.

    Comment by ESO — March 3, 2011 @ 5:37 am

  4. Honor code known.
    Honor code violated.
    Honor code enforced.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — March 3, 2011 @ 6:38 am

  5. I pretty much agree with everything ESO said.

    I will also say that the media has been incredibly supportive of BYU during all of this which is kind of refreshing. Instead of rolling their collective eyes at the draconian honor code, they seem to appreciate the university’s stance and applaud the fact that a university didn’t let an athlete off the hook.

    Comment by Tim J — March 3, 2011 @ 7:07 am

  6. Besides, can’t the kid just transfer and play elsewhere? Not this season, obviously, but as long as he is not a senior, I don’t see how this has ruined his life.

    Yep. He’ll have to sit out a year if he goes to another D-1 school but his career is far from over. There will be plenty of top schools vying for his talent.

    Comment by Tim J — March 3, 2011 @ 7:10 am

  7. Don’t know the kid, don’t know the situation. But, couldn’t it be possible he had just enough integrity/guilt/remorse to come forward and confess himself? There really are people like that in the church, you know – people who, after committing sin, choose to do what’s right, and accept the consequences, regardless of the price or pain.
    Just saying…

    Comment by Mel — March 3, 2011 @ 7:21 am

  8. Mel–of course that is possible. Do you feel he should not have been punished like this if he gave himself up?

    Comment by ESO — March 3, 2011 @ 8:16 am

  9. I know plenty of people who ran afoul of the honor code at BYU. He is LDS no? He or his girlfriend may have confessed. He seems pretty repentent. I bet he is back next year on the team

    I am sad for the team though.

    I am proud of BYU for upholding standards. There are plenty of LDS kids who will make a real effort to live the honor code who never got into BYU. So when I hear of people getting in trouble over the honor code and being defiant about it (not that he is) I think of those kids who got turned down by BYU and the 20K annual tithing subsidy and feel not a whit for them that got kicked out and were defient about it.

    Comment by bbell — March 3, 2011 @ 8:33 am

  10. The only reason the embarassment is so public is because of the high-profile nature of BYU basetball this year. Note that we still don’t know if the young man will be allowed to stay at school (I hope so). To be sure, it is extremely uncomfortable for every party involved. But, fair or unfair, things are simply different when you fall from grace from a position of great visibility.

    Comment by WMP — March 3, 2011 @ 9:08 am

  11. I just wish BYU would stop calling it an “Honor Code” and refer to it with a more appropriate term– something like “Code of Conduct” or “Standard of Behavior”. Honor is about how individuals deal with others. Having consensual pre-marital sex is not an issue of honor nor is visiting Sarbucks every morning for a cup of Joe. How one deals with the consequences of having pre-marital sex can very much be an issue of honor. Frankly, it’s more revealing of an individual’s character in how he reacts to the negative consequences of poor choices than the choices themselves.

    Comment by PaulM — March 3, 2011 @ 9:34 am

  12. From what I’ve heard elsewhere, the girlfriend’s roommate’s turned them in to the Standards Office. Talk about a university that encourages and supports a system of narcs. If this is true, it’s pretty gross and creepy, if you ask me. Sure, have an honor code but if you’re encouraging the student body to police each other… eew.

    Comment by LuluBelle — March 3, 2011 @ 9:38 am

  13. I was struck by the juxtaposition of this story with the Sports Illustrated cover story the same day on top-25 football teams with athletes with criminal records. One of the feature stories was about a Utah recruit who got his armed robbery case transferred to a juvenile case because Utah has a “policy” against recruiting felons.

    BYU really is its own separate world.

    Comment by CS Eric — March 3, 2011 @ 9:44 am

  14. It seems selective, even unfair, to enforce a rule just against those unlucky enough to be found out, when it can be so easily violated privately, with no consequences.

    I know right? We should have rules, but not, like, enforce them or have consequences and stuff. Like this one time I plagiarized my Masters thesis, and the school was all like,
    “Okay we’ll give you your degree, but we want you to know that we disapprove of this writing method.”

    Comment by Ryan — March 3, 2011 @ 9:51 am

  15. Well there is criminal activity (like raping or murdering or forging prescriptions), and ethics (like plagiarizing)– and then there’s having sex at age 20 or whatever. Can you really not seperate them? And what about forgiveness and redemption? No, BYU has an image to protect, goshdarnit!

    Comment by LuluBelle — March 3, 2011 @ 10:00 am

  16. I’m with Eric (#4).

    BYU is not alone in having an honor code or code of conduct.

    Your suggestion that we should not enforce the honor code because its enforcement is uneven is interesting. Should we feel the same way about speeding? Or embezzlement? Or murder? Just because we can’t prosecute all violators we should prosecute none?

    Comment by Paul — March 3, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  17. Is anyone really equating embezzlement and murder with having sex with a girlfriend? Should sex really be prosecuted? I know, I know… he knew the rules. Still, it just feels yucky.

    Comment by LuluBelle — March 3, 2011 @ 10:13 am

  18. Can you really not seperate them? And what about forgiveness and redemption?

    I’m pretty sure he can still be forgiven and redeemed.

    Comment by Tim J — March 3, 2011 @ 10:15 am

  19. And what about forgiveness and redemption?

    Forgiveness, redemption, and consequences are not exclusive principles.

    Is anyone really equating embezzlement and murder with having sex with a girlfriend?

    No, but I am equating rule-breaking with rule-breaking and don’t obscure that principle by minimizing the rule being broken.

    Not to mention that sex is actually quite serious. Read Elder Hollands talk given at BYU.

    Comment by Ryan — March 3, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  20. It’s the most possible fair outcome for that individual as far as the plan of salvation goes. If he continues faithfully through the repentance process and looks at the suffering he put himself, his girlfriend, teammates, families, friends, etc. through as the result of his actions and gains a greater sorrow for sin and an increased desire for righteousness it’s the most fair thing that can help to this brother who has stumbled in his personal plan of salvation.

    I pray he will grow in his faith and in the future be able to look back and behold those thing not see at the present time — that there is a great silver lining to the competence process if we are faithful in striving to overcome the effects of sin by taking hold of the strengthening and cleansing power of atonement of Jesus Christ.

    We might say it’s better he had not sinned at all… and that may be true after a certain fashion. But coming to this world seemed to necessitate sin. It’s just up to us the degree and the frequency to which we do it and once that’s done, how we regard it, and how we turn from it, without looking back.

    Comment by chris — March 3, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  21. The individual had to have signed a promise to obey the Honor Code in order to be admitted to BYU. Having signed the Honor Code, the individual is responsible for having read it and familiarized himself with the contents thereof. I have zero issue with the individual being removed from his team, or even expelled from the university if that takes place.

    Here’s the real problem, however. The ultimate sanction permitted under the Honor Code (so far as I can tell in researching BYU’s website) is expulsion from the university with a hold on records/graduation. That is the worst that any student should reasonably expect. In this particular case, however, BYU officials took it upon themselves to issue immediate statements to the media, indicating that this student was removed from the team due to an unspecified “violation of the Honor Code.” Since that initial statement, BYU’s spokeswoman has only stated that it was not a “criminal” matter, and that his discipline is still under review. Now, of course, word is leaking out that the student engaged in premarital sex, possibly resulting in a pregnancy.

    If I was this young man, or this young man’s father, I would be livid that BYU chose to provide the national media with a public statement of this nature. It was by no means necessary to tell the whole world that this student violated the Honor Code, let alone to do so in a vague manner which was guaranteed to cause “worst case scenario” speculation. In doing this, BYU has permanently and unnecessarily harmed the young man’s reputation before a national audience. They’ve publicly shamed him, and interfered tremendously with any “repentance” he may choose to engage in.

    I’m sure this student is being careful right now, in light of his yet-pending fate (which affects scholarship money, etc., no doubt). The negative publicity surrounding the case may in fact cause the office to be more lenient, rather than expelling him (and presumably his girlfriend?). If they do expell him, and he has nothing left to protect, I hope he sues BYU for “outing” him before a national audience, as if he was Charlie Sheen. Invasion of privacy comes to mind, and depending on the fallout, intentional infliction of emotional distress may also become an issue.

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 3, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  22. bleg… my proof reading is horrendous. Do over.

    It’s the most possible fair outcome for that individual as far as the plan of salvation goes. If he continues faithfully through the repentance process and looks at the suffering he put himself, his girlfriend, teammates, families, friends, etc. through as the result of his actions and gains a greater sorrow for sin and an increased desire for righteousness, then it’s the most fair thing that can happen to help to this brother who has stumbled in his personal plan of salvation.

    I pray he will grow in his faith, and in the future be enabled to look back and behold those things not seen at the present time — that there is a great silver lining to the repentance process if we are faithful in striving to overcome the effects of sin by taking hold of the strengthening and cleansing power of atonement of Jesus Christ.

    We might say it’s better he had not sinned in this manner at all… and that is true. But coming to this world seemed to necessitate sin. It’s just up to us the degree and the frequency to which we do it and once that’s done, how we regard it, and how we turn away from it, without looking back.

    Comment by chris — March 3, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  23. Nick – I agree that the University shouldn’t have “outed” him in this regard. However, I was not aware that you possessed all the facts to determine this, or are you just going on faith? Is it possible he agreed to have a statement issued — why would he sue for having a statement issued that he agreed to, if that were the case? Or are you again taking it on faith?

    It is also fair to question your expectation of privacy for an individual who steps onto a pedestal in the national spotlight. Every BYU athlete knows they become one of the public faces of BYU, at least for the particular time they are engaged in their sport. They do in fact receive a form of compensation for this, by way of hotels, travel, etc. expenses. If he was out playing on a local club with his own money paying the expenses, then we could suggest he has not placed himself on a pedestal. But he has.

    Still, I would really hope the school wouldn’t just issue a statement without his consent. If that’s the case I’d join you in calling for those kinds of actions to be reformed. I don’t think we need to sue anyone unless they refuse to address the needed changes however.

    Comment by chris — March 3, 2011 @ 11:10 am

  24. chris, you’re right–it’s possible that he agreed ahead of time to the issuance of the statement. It’s also possible that his “agreement” was coerced by a university administration who essentially hold all the power over his future at this point—not really an environment for him to make a truly consensual agreement.

    You’re also right that “public figures” have a lesser reasonable expectation of privacy than the rest of us, hence my comparison to Charlie Sheen. I’d suggest that a BYU basketball player, while more “public” than the average person, comes short of the level at which such a press release is protected from liability. It’s arguable either way, and the court would have to make that decision in the event of a lawsuit.

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 3, 2011 @ 11:18 am

  25. Of course it is true than many students violate the HC by cheating, smoking, drinking, swearing, growing beards etc. and don’t get caught.

    Tell me, ESO, how does one grow a beard in secret? Is it kind of like this?

    Comment by Latter-day Guy — March 3, 2011 @ 11:35 am

  26. Nick,

    Invasion of privacy? Intentional infliction of emotional distress? For a statement that he was released from the team due to an unspecified honor code violation (a true statement, by all accounts)? Um, no.

    But you would have a right to be livid if it were your kid, I suppose. So I suggest not sending your son to play starting center for BYU.

    Comment by WMP — March 3, 2011 @ 11:38 am

  27. It was by no means necessary to tell the whole world that this student violated the Honor Code, let alone to do so in a vague manner which was guaranteed to cause “worst case scenario” speculation.

    This was a unique circumstance in the which the person in question was a somewhat high-profile player on a what is now a very high-profile basketball team. BYU had the national media, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, etc. all asking questions and nosing around so I think a statement was appropriate. I’m not sure how else they should have handled it.

    Comment by Tim J — March 3, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  28. WMP, the truth of an allegation is not a defense against the torts of invasion of privacy or intentional infliction of emotional distress.

    Tim, the only thing they had to say is that he would not be playing for the rest of the season, and that the university was choosing not to discuss the reasons for his separation “out of respect for his privacy.” It may well have gotten out anyway, but the university could have avoided being the creators of gossip.

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 3, 2011 @ 11:50 am

  29. I’d be completely surprised if he turned himself in and had this result. Attitude will be a huge determinant in the consequence process.

    To play sports on this level is to voluntarily give up some privacy. It’s a choice…fame, prestige and privacy seldom go together. He chose this. It’s not like the university could just push it all under the rug and pretend he never existed and just not play him and hope no one noticies.

    It is incredibly unusual that we know it was sex, but the immediate actions of the University indicate that was not all it was. I’ve seen too many other athletes go through the process to think it’s just that he had sex and got caught.

    Sex is a big deal. Putting a baby at risk is a big deal. Sex is not a right, neither is basketball.

    Comment by britt k — March 3, 2011 @ 11:56 am

  30. Nick,

    But there is nothing else from these set of facts that could support such claims. The notion that the university could simply have said he was excused from the team–without giving a reason–is a tad naive, wouldn’t you say. And what if it had been stealing, or cheating, or some other infraction. Then would the university’s announcement have been okay. Let’s face it, you’re mad because the university “outed” him for having sex–even though the university has never said it was because of sex. So what is the university liable for, exactly?

    Comment by WMP — March 3, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  31. How about Tyshawn Taylor who was benched last week by #2 Kansas for violating team rules? Invasion of privacy against him, too?

    Comment by John Mansfield — March 3, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

  32. Tim, the only thing they had to say is that he would not be playing for the rest of the season, and that the university was choosing not to discuss the reasons for his separation “out of respect for his privacy.”

    Which is code for “Honor Code Violation” which the media is well aware of.

    Again, this is a national story and it really wouldn’t have mattered what BYU came out and said.

    Comment by Tim J — March 3, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  33. How about Tyshawn Taylor who was benched last week by #2 Kansas for violating team rules? Invasion of privacy against him, too?

    For having sex as well. Of course, it was with a member of the women’s basketball team. In Allen Fieldhouse. But still…

    Comment by Tim J — March 3, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  34. Nick–it seems that a statement like this is pretty standard for college and professional teams. Also, if the violation was indeed having sex, I cannot imagine that will really go against him in the world of sports. Will it?

    LdG–BYU males seem to have made it an art form of growing hair as long as they could without being refused services at some gatekeeper kind of place, like the library or testing center. Or, you know, not attending class. Or lying to get a beard pass.

    Comment by ESO — March 3, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

  35. Well, then it’s a matter of not enforcing a (patently silly) regulation, not of avoiding detection. Lying for a beard-pass excepted, of course.

    Comment by Latter-day Guy — March 3, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

  36. For having sex as well. Of course, it was with a member of the women’s basketball team. In Allen Fieldhouse. But still…

    Wow. Dude has cajones.

    Comment by Scott B. — March 3, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  37. #30
    Let’s face it, you’re mad because the university “outed” him for having sex–even though the university has never said it was because of sex.

    WMP, you are attempting to invent a motivation for me out of thin air. I was quite clear that the university did not reveal the fact that his Honor Code violation involved sex. Is your loyalty to BYU so intense, that you have to make up things against me for daring to question their actions?

    So what is the university liable for, exactly?

    The university may (note that I said a court would have to decide–I didn’t say it was a foregone conclusion) be liable for both of the torts I mentioned. He’s not a “public figure” in the sense that provides a defense in such cases. The disclosure of an unspecified “Honor Code violation” was unnecessary. It was not a matter of public concern. Furthermore, BYU considers Honor Code violations part of one’s “academic record,” which is itself protected against disclosure by law.

    #34:
    Also, if the violation was indeed having sex, I cannot imagine that will really go against him in the world of sports. Will it?

    That’s just it. They didn’t say it was for sex. They left it up to people’s worst imaginations.

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 3, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

  38. So what other violations are both non-criminal and will make other teams not want him?

    Comment by ESO — March 3, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

  39. And proved it, Scott!

    Those of you who are just saying it’s an honor code violation and we’re done are missing the point of this post.

    Is there really no substantive difference in your mind between illegal/unethical behavior like lying, stealing, or cheating on one hand and consensual sex on the other?

    I’m not saying “everyone is doing it” so we should excuse it. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t enforce the honor code because some people don’t get caught. I’m talking about what PaulM was getting at in comment 11, and LuluBelle in comment 12. Is this really a question of “honor?” Is it really what we want to portray that we are going to pry into the personal sex lives of consenting adults?

    Here’s an example: many states, including Utah, have so-called “blue laws” that make it a crime for anyone to engage in certain sexual practices. Those laws routinely outlaw things like fornication (in some cases) adultery (in some cases) and (in most cases) sodomy (broadly defined). Those laws are also never enforced. The reason they are never enforced is precisely the reasons I’m getting at in this post: An awful lot of people are doing these things and not getting caught, and the only way to catch people is by doing some pretty icky things, like encouraging roomates to spy on each other or enfocrement officals to invade people’s personal privacy. At the end of the day, states have decided it’s not worth it to enforce such laws. Most of us agree that’s a wise course.

    I’m wondering whether BYU should engage in that type of wise course with regard to consensual sex between consenting adults. Not to say it’s ok, just to say it’s a private matter between private individuals and their God and we’re not going to pry into it or pretend it’s a matter of “honor.”

    Comment by MCQ — March 3, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

  40. “the only way to catch people is by doing some pretty icky things”

    I’m not sure this is true. Given we place such an emphasis on confessing sexual transgressions to a priesthood authority I wouldn’t be surprised if many of these honor code violations are self-reported.

    Comment by gomez — March 3, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

  41. gomez, that might be true in some cases. I still question whether it’s a good idea to encourage consenting adults to report their sexual activity as an “honor code violation.” Confess it as a sin to their bishop? Absolutely, and good for them. But the next sound you hear is the bishop picking up the phone to the honor code office. Is that what we really want?

    I think we should leave the consequences of sin where they belong: in the hands of ecclesiastical leaders and God. Do we really want consequences for sin that stretch into the academic arena or the sports arena? Here’s the bottom line: BYU will lose its best chance for a final four finish (and all the money and recognition that comes with that) because an adult on their team had consensual sex with his adult girlfriend. Does that seem right to you? I’m not a BYU fan at all and even I think that’s messed up.

    Here’s my favorite take on this so far, from Wes Brown over at BCC:

    The important question people are not asking is…Why?
    Why can’t Brandon have sex?
    It is because the school wants to regulate the sexuality of the adults that go there.
    Yeah, yeah- he signed up for it.
    Yeah, yeah- BYU still needs to remove itself from peoples’ pants.

    Comment by MCQ — March 3, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

  42. I’m a big BYU fan and I don’t think it’s messed up. All you have to do is catch someone having sex is open a door. It’s not about icky, sneaky stuff…it could be as simple as needing something from your bedroom and ignoring the sock, tie, whatever the signal of the day is.

    Just maybe there is something more important than a basketball game or doing whatever feels good right then.

    I get that this is consensual adults…but private behavior affects everyone. it does.

    There’s no way this was a one night thing and he feels sorry. no way. this would not be the school’s reaction. They are in favor of helping the individual and repentance. Knowing that sex is involved doesn’t give us the full picture.

    Comment by britt k — March 3, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

  43. We will probably never have the complete picture, britt, but saying “private behavior affects everyone” doesn’t settle this. You can’t just say that and run off into the weeds. Does private behavior affect everyone? If so, how? In what way is “everyone” affected by this particular private behavior? And is it really not icky to walk into a bedroom when their is a “signal” on the door to stay out? And if you do, does that necessarily mean you have to run to the honor code office? And if you do that, are you really not icky?

    Comment by MCQ — March 3, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  44. There’s no way this was a one night thing and he feels sorry. no way. this would not be the school’s reaction.

    And this ironclad declaration comes with ironclad evidence? Because it sounds like this is based on how you hope BYU functions. Kind of like I hope I’ll one day be able to buy a reliable 4WD that runs on dreams and starlight.

    Comment by Latter-day Guy — March 3, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

  45. From what I can find, proof that the violation was consensual sex is coming through the Salt Lake Tribune who seemed to assume that’s what it was because they couldn’t find a criminal record.
    First of all–really the Salt Lake Tribune?! ReallY?! That’s who we’re going off? The newspaper found by Satan? (yes, that’s a joke. So don’t get in a fuss about it:)
    Secondly, how very harsh to assume the worst because of lack of evidence for anything else. It probably was sex but for a newspaper to proclaim as such on an assumption is bad for everyone. (Did they find proof and I just haven’t found it? Anyone?)

    But to get back to the OP (which, MCQ, is not easy to see what you were getting at until your clarifying comment #41), although the manner in which Honor Code violations are reported and sometimes enforced can seem and sometimes are quite silly (or worse) I think sexual relations are within the school’s bounds IF we agree that living the Honor Code is part of a student’s education. This is something BYU seems to insist on. Education is more than academics for them and the Church. They’re out to give an education for the whole soul while they have you at their school. If you agree to that as a student, wonderful. If not, well. We all know the answer.

    Comment by Bret — March 3, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  46. Let’s pretend it’s your freshman year. You live in the dorms with whomever they assigned you to. she tells you a signal. Every. night. for a week you are out of your dorm room. every. night. Some nice girls across the hall take you in. You talk to your room mate, you talk to the ra about switching room mates giving no real reason. You talk to your coach about switching room mates…you don’t want to be a bother. You talk to your room mate…she apologizes, says she’s so sorry and on it goes. One morning you need something from your room. You have an assignment and you left it there and thought you could get to it before it was due…so you open the door. still icky? still you being the bad guy? After that and trying to get to the RA again— no one does anything-talk again to your room mate then go to the honor code office. real story.

    Comment by britt k — March 3, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

  47. Latter day guy. I was an athlete at BYU. I’ve seen a few athletes go through the system.

    Comment by britt k — March 3, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

  48. on the roommate…yes you knocked first…on your own room door. yes you called her name and waited.

    Comment by britt k — March 3, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  49. That’s a lot of ifs, britt. But if that happened to you then you are owed an apology by someone. I hope you got it.

    But that’s not really what we’re talking about here, and in most cases, a situation like that can be, and is at most schools, resolved without getting anyone kicked off of a team or kicked out of school.

    Like I said before, why can’t we keep the consequnces of sin where they belong?

    The answer may lie in what Bret is talking about. all that about an education of the whole soul. I agree that’s what BYU is aiming for. And an honor code like this is certainly one way of going about it. I’m just not convinced it’s the only way or even the wisest way. It seems to treat people like children, rather than adults, and I’m not sure that’s the best way to educate the whole soul.

    Comment by MCQ — March 3, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

  50. Oh also, Bret, as I said in the post, the only news source I know of that is reporting that the infraction at issue is sex with his girlfriend was ESPN. The Tribune didn’t say that, though it implied it by ruling out all other possible infractions. The Tribune deserves some credit for checking with all possible law enforcement agencies for any criminal complaints, checking with BYU to rule out ethics violations, etc. In other words, they did their homework.

    ESPN didn’t name their sources, which means that someone verified it off the record. Sleazy? Yeah, kinda.

    Comment by MCQ — March 3, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  51. He’s not a “public figure” in the sense that provides a defense in such cases.

    He’s not? Are you sure?

    Comment by Clark — March 3, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

  52. MCQ, I am sympathetic to your point in 41 and have no desire to see someone in the vulnerable state of confession have that compounded by academic sanctions. But it seems to me what you are suggesting would run the risk of diminishing the spiritual or moral component from the BYU form of education, something that as Bret suggests is fundamental to the mission of BYU. But I also agree that the honor code is a blunt instrument that could be improved upon.

    I also agree with Bret that your point is more clearly made in 41 than in the OP.

    Comment by gomez — March 3, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

  53. Gomez, typically if it’s a one time thing (which frankly is pretty common) it never reaches the Honor’s Code Office. As I said at BCC I think it’s valid to criticize the inconsistency of the Honor Code Office. I’ve had friends who were reported for things they never did and kicked out. (Fortunately they aren’t bitter, although they were angry) And I know of people reported where nothing happened but should have.

    All that said though I’ve never ever heard of a one time screw up getting reported by either a Bishop nor the person in question.

    Comment by Clark — March 3, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

  54. MCQ, I don’t think it would have required a lot of leg work to find someone who knew the player in question and what happened. Reporters do that. It needn’t have been BYU. (I’m not saying it wasn’t someone in the athletic department speaking off the record mind you) I think it kind of naive to assume this wouldn’t come out though given the nature of the press.

    As to Nick’s point, it’s pretty hard to say someone isn’t a public figure when they are featured on ESPN news. Significant college athletes in a multimillion (perhaps billion) dollar business who are going to be in the NBA in a few years sure strike me as public figures. If they aren’t I sure don’t know what constitutes a public figure.

    Comment by Clark — March 3, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

  55. MCQ–what if the girlfriend is pregnant? Is that objective enough evidence that she has violated the honor code?

    I think BYU needs to be zealous about the honor code enforcement because of the competition to be there. Should BYU students develop a reputation for sinning up a storm, but being allowed to repent and have no consequences from the Church-subsidized institution seems like it could cause plenty of problems with “good” kids who couldn’t get in, but who would have better upheld Church standards. BYU students have, in effect, won some sort of a competition for their positions–why preference them with those spots when they demonstrate that they have strayed?

    Comment by ESO — March 3, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

  56. You’re misreading me ESO. I’m not suggesting that they not enforce the honor code. I’m suggesting that consensual sex between adults really has no place on an “honor code” and should be dealt with as a private matter between the person and his/her bishop and God.

    And yes, pregnancy is objective evidence of sex, obviously. Though it seems to me that if a girl gets pregnant unintentionally, she has problems enough and doesn’t need academic sanctions on top of everything else. Again, I think the consequences should be handled through her bishop, not school and/or sports teams.

    Comment by MCQ — March 3, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

  57. MCQ, why should the honor code reflect only libertarian principles. (At least I assume that’s where you are headed) Any “victimless” act shouldn’t be affected by the honor code? I’d assume you would say drugs should also not be against the honor code? Isn’t minor cheating also arguably victimless?

    Comment by Clark — March 3, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

  58. Why can’t the Honor Code of a religiously funded institution include adherence to commandments of that religion?

    Comment by ESO — March 3, 2011 @ 8:52 pm

  59. I don’t know about how these things are handled now, but 15 years ago at BYU, ecclesiastical leaders were rather forthright in saying that if a transgressed was actively repentant there would be no Honor Code Office referral, within reasonable bounds. The purpose behind this was to encourage true repentance without a lag of several years motivated by the potential academic consequences.

    The image of BYU as some kind of fascist Honor Code police state does not reflect reality in 95% of the cases.

    Comment by Tom O. — March 3, 2011 @ 8:53 pm

  60. Clark: No. Not headed there. Not arguing that.

    Because it’s an Honor Code, ESO. That label says something different than what is being portrayed. First of all, an “Honor Code” usually means you are “on your honor” or your word is accepted, until proven differently. But that’s not how the honor code functions. It’s a constant at BYU that the honor code office is either self-policing the code or it’s being enforced by reports from other students. There’s no “on your honor” about it.

    Second: An honor code implies that its rules are about honor, or being honorable. That doesn’t imply a code of behavior dictated by the requirements of the school’s religion.

    In other words, it’s not an honor code at all, it’s a religious behavioral code enforced by secret reporting. So the school should label it as such and should be more up front about how it is enforced.

    But more importantly, whatever you call it, the code should probably not include sanctions for things that it is impossible to enforce evenly. There are reasonable ways to determine if people are cheating, or stealing or committing other such offenses. There’s no good way to evenly enforce a rule against consensual sexual behavior. Which is why states have chosen to not enforce such rules.

    Comment by MCQ — March 3, 2011 @ 9:18 pm

  61. Tom, I’m really glad if that’s the case. Sure doesn’t seem to be working that way in this case, though.

    Comment by MCQ — March 3, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

  62. Regardless of what you call it, admission and continued enrollment is based on an ecclesiastical endorsement which sure does asses adherence to commandments. Because EEs are administered by bishops and their are thousands who deal with BYU students, they are not uniform, along the lines of confessing sin x to one bishop getting you a sympathetic nod and a pat on the head and confessing sin x to another bishop eliciting scary disciplinary talk.

    Just as has been mentioned, if “uneven enforcement” is a deal breaker, we might as well throw all those confessable sins aside as a Church membership because, after all, bishops and stakes will not react in the same way.

    In my experience, the BYU honor code and honor code council operates much more like Tom describes than like the caricature of BYU students as a secret police, informing on each other out of self-righteousness or spite. While, of course, such a large student body will have petty snitches here and there, the vast majority of BYU students never encounter any honor code enforcers.

    Comment by ESO — March 3, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

  63. Kind of like I hope I’ll one day be able to buy a reliable 4WD that runs on dreams and starlight.

    I actually own one of those. Persuasive dealer talked me into it. I wouldn’t recommend one. As the name would indicate, it only works at night–due to the starlight issue–or while someone is asleep in the car (the dream component). As such, it’s not a great primary car.

    Comment by jimbob — March 3, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

  64. Just as has been mentioned, if “uneven enforcement” is a deal breaker, we might as well throw all those confessable sins aside as a Church membership because, after all, bishops and stakes will not react in the same way.

    But that’s just it, ESO. When it’s all about church, it’s fine. That’s where this stuff should be addressed. Why layer the additional consequences of academic standing and athletic eligibility and Sportscenter on top of it? Keep sex questions with the bishops and stake presidents who are guided by the Spirit. Ain’t no spirit on Sportscenter.

    Comment by MCQ — March 3, 2011 @ 11:11 pm

  65. One of the articles on ESPN I read cited the Salt Lake Tribune as its source. The article they cited is like you say, shady; especially the way the 1st two paragraphs are worded and thus why ESPN got the conclusion they did, I think.

    Anyway, like I was trying to say. The Tribune is evil 8p

    Comment by Bret — March 4, 2011 @ 3:06 am

  66. Most of the time the honor code relies on honor. There isn’t a body of morality monitors roaming around. The university environment is only maintained because a majority of those attend choose all by themselves to honor their commitment. It makes for a wonderful learning environment. College is not all about drinking and sex. If you read some of the comments on the articles, or many of the tweets, it appears that THE most important part of college is the drinking and the sex.

    It’s very freeing to not have room mates who drink. It’s very freeing to be able to choose, to be able to not listen to constant party stories on monday morning. It’s very freeing to go to a team party and count on not being the only one not drinking. That whole environment would not be possible wihtout individuals students honoring their commitments.

    You can find anything at BYU but you can also AVOID some things…which is near impossible at other universities

    Comment by britt k — March 4, 2011 @ 7:42 am

  67. Because BYU IS Church. That player had been called as a basketball player and now he has been released. It remains to be seen if he stays in the ward or moves, though. Occasionally ward business makes the news–Mormons are fascinating, didn’t you know?

    Comment by ESO — March 4, 2011 @ 7:47 am

  68. I’m not sure what your hoping for MCQ.

    privacy for the individual? he’s an athlete on a very good team. he gave that up.

    you want the university/society to stay out of the private lives of individuals? Sex is powerful. It creates life, it bonds people together and it’s fun. How can it be that powerful without also having great potential for destruction. There are physical, emotional, mental and social consequences to having sex. Not always…not every time…but it can distort a person’s view of love and self, and that is powerful.

    Comment by britt k — March 4, 2011 @ 8:06 am

  69. #51:
    He’s not? Are you sure?

    As I’ve noted a few times already, these are arguable issues that a court would have to eventually decide. Seriously though, let’s not get so full of ourselves that a college basketball player is a “public figure” in the same sense that national politicians, celebrities, etc. are. One doens’t become a “public figure” simply because their name popped up a few times in the news. Frankly, the vast majority of people (myself included) likely had never heard of this young man until the news story broke about him being suspended from the team.

    Potential lawsuits aside, the fact remains that BYU officials essentially threw this kid (yes, “kid”) to the wolves for all sorts of nasty speculation and gossip. I believe that’s at least as “dishonorable” as any Honor Code violation.

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 4, 2011 @ 9:41 am

  70. ESO, your saying that doesn’t make it so. There are plenty of people who attend BYU, especially athletes, who are not members of the Church and would take issue with your characterization. In fact, I hope you’re joking, because equating playing basketball for BYU to a calling from God is pretty ridiculous.

    britt, I think I’ve been pretty clear about what I’m hoping for. I don’t think rules regarding sex between adults that have academic and athletic consequences are a very good idea, for the reasons I’ve stated. I think the ecclesiastical and spiritual consequences we all know about are sufficient.

    Comment by MCQ — March 4, 2011 @ 10:18 am

  71. “College is not all about drinking and sex.”

    Really? Are you sure? All the college brochures I got in the mail must be lying then!

    Comment by MCQ — March 4, 2011 @ 10:20 am

  72. It IS an honor code, because to attend that school, you signed your name to keep it. I know it’s an antiquated opinion, but I believe that breaking one’s word is dishonorable.

    As far as this specific case is concerned, I don’t care enough to have an opinion. I do feel it is slightly hypocritical for BYU to even have sports the way they do, but that’s another matter entirely.

    Comment by SilverRain — March 4, 2011 @ 10:32 am

  73. OK, that makes sense MCQ. But what you’re really arguing with is the name of the code. I wonder how that name evolved?

    That said though you then said you think the chastity rules are bad and honestly I’m still a bit unclear why. I thought you were going the libertarian angle. In the OP you say you worry about how evenhanded it can be enforced. But isn’t that worse if anything with cheating? I mean lots of people cheat and get away with it. I remember at BYU having a group project but everyone was supposed to do their own writeup. We shared notes (as was expected) but did our own writeup only to find out that one person had copied my notes verbatim. I nearly got in trouble for that although fortunately the teacher was understanding. But what if he wasn’t? It seems to me there are tons more problems like that with cheating than with chastity issues.

    Nick, I think major college players are pretty clearly public figures. We’re talking about a guy who was regularly in the papers not some obscure player or some high school basketball player. I honestly don’t see the difference between this and someone playing for the Utah Jazz. College sports is a huge business with tons of press. I also think people in their 20′s aren’t kids anymore.

    Comment by Clark — March 4, 2011 @ 10:54 am

  74. Okay, should a school that has its roots in the LDS Church not have an honor code that reflects the morals of the LDS church, or should it have an honor code that allows certain types of behavior that is immoral by LDS standards because “everybody else does it”?

    Glenn

    Comment by Glenn Thigpen — March 4, 2011 @ 11:09 am

  75. MCQ–of course I am joking. I would happily forgo all collegiate sports, and I certainly don’t see athletics as a calling–they are recreation, are they not? Still, the Church owns the court, the coaches, the concessions, the uniforms–I still say they get to set the rules. There are plenty of other aspects of the Code to get excited about. If BYU were this young man’s ONLY shot at an education, yes, it would be a pity if he lost his spot there. Since he has AMPLE other avenues for schooling, I am not concerned in the least.

    I can’t believe we have had all this honor code talk without Karl G. Maeser and his chalk circle mentioned even once!

    Comment by ESO — March 4, 2011 @ 11:51 am

  76. BTW–in all the low-profile pre-marital sex cases I have known of at BYU (not many, but not zero), all it took was a cultural hall wedding, and everyone was back to class.

    Comment by ESO — March 4, 2011 @ 11:54 am

  77. #73:
    I think major college players are pretty clearly public figures. We’re talking about a guy who was regularly in the papers

    Where? In Utah? Granted I’m one of the millions of Americans who don’t read the sports section of their newspaper, but I never saw him in any media source, and I cast a fairly wide net.

    I also think people in their 20’s aren’t kids anymore.

    First, if this means you’re in your 20s and I’ve offended you, please accept my apology. Second, I’m getting old, so to me, they look awfully young (grin!). Third, please keep in mind that studies show the human brain’s reasoning faculties don’t actually mature until about age 25, so a sophomore in college typically has yet to reach that point. This explains, at least in part, why so many in their early 20s engage in risky behavior (such as having unprotected sex, while simultaneously endangering your basketball scholarship, etc.!)

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 4, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

  78. I think he’s 19, not 20, if that makes a difference. No, he’s not a kid. Yes, he is a public figure, in my opinion. It doesn’t take much to acheive that threshhold for puposes of privacy. That’s why so many media oulets have felt so free to report and speculate on his private sexual life. They know he’s a public figure. His girlfriend has even been outed now. Apparently, she’s a volleyball player at ASU, and her family says she’s not pregnant.

    SilverRain you are absolutely correct that breaking one’s word is dishonorable. But it’s not left to one’s word, is it? It’s policed pretty thoroughly by others from what I can tell. The rumor is that in this particular case, it was a roommate that squealed.

    Clark, did you read my #41? If you read that and still don’t know where I’m coming from, let me know and I’ll try to explain further. I’m not just arguing about the name of the code. I don’t think consensual sexual behavior betwween adults should be part of it.

    As I said, I think things like that should be handled by bishops, with the guidance of the spirit, not honor code offices. Not because “chastity rules are bad,” but because of the reasons I already stated: enforcement requires invasions of privacy, so only those who get pregnant or are victims of a peeping tom get caught. That’s no way to enforce an honor code, in my opinion, and in fact it strikes me as a bit dishonorable.

    ESO, I hope people don’t get married just so thaey can go back to class. And of course BYU gets to set the rules. This discussion is about what we think BYU should do with that power, not about whether we should storm the campus and install Charlie Sheen in the trustees’ office.

    Glenn Thigpen: Sir, I humbly request that you kindly read the post and the comments. That issue has been addressed.

    Comment by MCQ — March 4, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

  79. Just to add. He is a public figure. There is no disputing that. He steps on to a basket ball court in front of 20,000 people who have paid money to watch him and his teammates. He’s a public performer. It would do well for all athletes to consider their role in this regard.

    Although he may view himself as merely playing a game/sport that he loves at a high level and not being a performer for the public, the reason that high-level exists is because the public pays to watch him do it. He’s as public as you can possibly be.

    If he played some kind of private league where he paid an entry fee with his buddies and no one was paying to watch him, it could be argued he wa snot a public figure.

    Comment by chris — March 4, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

  80. and those who lock their roommate out of their room for extended periods of tine..the roommate who doesn’t understand “real love” and is just a tattling, immature and icky person with no concern for privacy(or was actually concerned and wanted a place to sleep and their Physical science assignment).

    That roommate who isn’t affected at all by the private behavior of two consenting adults in HIS bedroom. Can you see that atleast He would be mildly affected? Where is his right to privacy?

    Probably just a peeping tom who signed up to be an athlete’s roommate to see some action.;)

    If they had to patrol and send in undercover agents, it wouldn’t be an honor code. But they haven’t and won’t. Yes they mostly react to admissions of guilt and obvious situations…because it’s an honor code. They have to react to the obvious stuff..the rest they leave to the honor of the students.

    Please remember so far the only consequence is tghat he won’t play in some basketball games. Coach rose has indicated he hopes Davies will be around next season and there is no reason to believe he is out of BYU for this. Basketball is extracurricular. So they are saying we are no longer having you represent us to the world as an athlete. They are saying little else.

    Comment by britt k — March 4, 2011 @ 6:33 pm

  81. Wow, that roommate incident must have really left emotional scars, britt. I thought we already covered that, but if you need to talk more about it, go ahead. Get it all out. We’re here for you.

    Do they really leave most of it to the honor of the students? That’s not the impression I have, but then I was living my own honor code at The School of the Prophets 45 miles to the north, so what do I know?

    Please remember so far the only consequence is tghat he won’t play in some basketball games.

    Really? You think that’s the only consequence? You might want to google the player’s name and rethink that.

    Comment by MCQ — March 4, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

  82. the publicity wasn’t BYU’s intent or fault. They say precious little. I only brought up the room mate thing again because you insist it must be a peeping tom. Even with my experience shared, you won’t acknowledge that possibly the roommate isn’t an icky tattling freak. Maybe they are…but maybe they aren’t ..I find it judgemental that you assume.

    Of course they leave it to the honor of the students. How could they possibly patrol it? It’s not like they have random stop and inquisitions.

    Comment by britt k — March 4, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

  83. Not to mention the consequence to his poor girlfriend.

    Comment by MCQ — March 4, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

  84. britt, come on. The publicity is the result of BYU having this rule and taking this action. If they chose in the future to do what I’m suggesting and leave sex in the bedroom and between a student and his/her bishop and God, then none of this publicity would ever happen again. BYU can’t dodge the responsibility for this publicity just because they didn’t personally pick up the phone and call the Dan Patrick Show.

    Of course they leave it to the honor of the students. How could they possibly patrol it? It’s not like they have random stop and inquisitions.

    If they really left it to the honor of the students then they would ignore reports by other students. They don’t do that, in fact, they encourage reporting by other students. Tell me I’m wrong, please. I would love to be wrong about that, but we both know I’m not.

    If a student knows about, and reports on, the sexual activity of another student, he/she is, by definition, an icky peeping tom, in my humble opinion. There’s just no way around that.

    I heard an interview with Danny Ainge last night where he was aked if he ever informed on anyone to the honor code office, or would do so in this situation. He said no, he would never do that. Why did he say that? Cause it’s icky.

    Comment by MCQ — March 4, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

  85. Of course the people most affected are the two involved…and hopefully not a third.

    of course students aren’t encouraged to report on each other.

    whatever.

    So in your world you think at BYU the honor code should be what exactly? just don’t cheat? So if they find out someone is cheating they shouldn’t do anything either? think it through. Have you ever been to BYU?

    Comment by britt k — March 4, 2011 @ 11:12 pm

  86. britt, seriously?

    The language of the honor code itself encourages students to inform on each other, and there are regular talks by administrators that encourage reporting on fellow students.

    I have never attended BYU as a student but my dad did, my sisters did, several friends and mission companions did, I dated girls who attended there and I attended functions with them, I’ve been to hundreds of basketball and football games there and my aunt and uncle have been employed as professors there for most of my life. I think I do know a little bit about what I’m talking about.

    I never said the code should be limited to only cheating, and they absolutely should punish cheating. When have I ever said otherwise?

    I don’t pretend to know how best to rewrite the code. I guess I would start by changing the title and leaving the consequences of premarital sex between consenting adults with the bishops where they belong. Other than that, I haven’t given it much thought, but I doubt that I would recommend changing much else.

    Comment by MCQ — March 4, 2011 @ 11:55 pm

  87. The honor code says if you saign it you will “Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code”

    and “students may not influence or seek to influence others to engage in behavior inconsistent with the Honor Code.”

    I don’t see either of those as code for please be our spy.

    I have never heard a regular talk by administrators encouraging reporting. But the mileage of your family and friends may vary. Possibly proffesors are encouraged? I only have professor friends, not family and the honor code doesn’t come up.

    Comment by britt k — March 5, 2011 @ 11:43 am

  88. The “encourage others” language is used by many as a justification and a prod for reporting on fellow students, and has been for a very long time.

    Comment by MCQ — March 5, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

  89. “used by many” good stat…I’m totally convinced.

    Comment by britt k — March 5, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

  90. Yeah, because there are all kinds of stats on this subject, britt. Where are your stats? I would suggest to you that more BYU alums have experience with students reporting on each other to the honor code office than do not. Didn’t you say that you did that yourself?

    You might find this hard to believe, but I’m really not interested in convincing you of anything.

    Comment by MCQ — March 5, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

  91. I would suggest to you that more BYU alums have experience with students reporting on each other to the honor code office than do not.

    Count me in the minority then, because I’ve never seen or heard of anyone having a run-in with the Honor Code Office despite seeing and hearing of plenty of infractions. But as a transfer student I spent my BYU career in various off campus viper pits, and maybe the kids in the dorms are different.

    Anyway, I’d wager a nickel that when we review the video of BYU’s life at the judgment bar we will discover that the university did not in fact suspend Davies for having consensual sex.

    Comment by Peter LLC — March 7, 2011 @ 1:33 am

  92. As one who is NOT a fan of BYU, I am nevertheless stymied by many of the Saints’ reactions in the blogosphere to BYU’s action with Davies. In my ward the alumni are fully supportive of it. “It is what it is,” is the common response, except for one friend who added,”but couldn’t he just have waited six weeks to repent?” What I really find curious is how secular entities that, historically, have not been friends of the Church, responded:

    http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2057184,00.html?xid=fbshare

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-plaschke-20110304,0,5294368.column

    As sad as the account is for Davies and his loved ones, is it really tragic in the long run? An opportunity has occurred for BYU, the Church and the basketball star to let their light shine to the world. And the world is getting it! Why aren’t so many Saints?

    Comment by David — March 7, 2011 @ 9:33 am

  93. Does the punishment reflect the crime? That’s what I wanna know. Oh, I’ve got it: Let’s brand them both with a Big Scarlet Letter A on their forehead (or F for “fornicators”), make them march into the quad and stone ‘em. If they survive it, he can play again and the girl? Well, let’s just call her forever more a whore.

    Comment by LuluBelle — March 7, 2011 @ 9:51 am

  94. MCQ (78), I had read your 41 and I certainly agree that if someone confesses to a Bishop the Bishop shouldn’t report it to the honors department for punishment. However my understanding is that this never or rarely happens. (I suspect if it does happen it’s either the exception or else is due to habitual problems or more serious issues)

    But let me stick to my question about whether you’d apply this to other issues. Because honestly it seems like you are only considering sex. If someone goes to the Bishop and confesses cheating on a test or plagiarizing a paper, what do you think should happen?

    Likewise let’s consider the inverse situation since you are in (41) focused on the actions of a Bishop. What if the person is turned into the honor code by roomtates before he could go to the Bishop?

    It’s just not clear to me (especially from comment #41) why you think chastity ought be handled differently.

    Comment by Clark — March 7, 2011 @ 11:28 am

  95. Does the punishment reflect the crime?

    LuluBelle, I don’t think comparing this to the scarlet letter is fair in the least. Especially because within a few years I don’t think anyone would care.

    In either case I’m not sure how to apply your statement. Do you think chastity is more significant or less significant than minor honesty? If so, do you think someone cheating should be treated with more or less punishment? If so why?

    I suspect that most Mormons think that chastity is in fact more serious than cheating. If so, then shouldn’t we act on this? None of this is to deny repentance, forgiveness or the like. However if BYU is going to reflect Mormon standards then it seems like we ought expect to see that.

    Where I think it completely legitimate to criticize the honor department is in inconsistent application and allowing a bit too much hearsay into charges. I also think they make punishment for silliness far too strong. (i.e. the grad student expelled for chloroforming that cat and putting it in the clock tower back in the 80′s)

    For those of us who were at BYU in the 90′s or earlier though we should be careful to not read our experiences into present day events. I’m sure policy and practice has changed in the intervening decades. For instance it appears pretty clear that all the laxity and double standards towards BYU athletes during the 90′s are no longer present. And that, to me, is a good thing. For a variety of reasons.

    Comment by Clark — March 7, 2011 @ 11:35 am

  96. I agree with LuluBelle. There is another element of punishment happening in this case than the punishment that happens in most other cases in that these two young people are being publically humiliated. That’s a completely foreseeable occurrence that BYU should have considered before taking action. It’s not part of the honor code, nor any reasonable punishment to have your name dragged through the mud.

    Clark: yes, I suppose that chastity violations are worse than cheating in our rubrick of sin, but I don’t think ranking sins is particularly helpful. I’m not talking about the magnitude of the punishment, just its public nature.

    Cheating happens in public, for the most part, and its effects are public, in that the grades that are issued by the university for purposes of ranking students and getting jobs are affected. Because of that, anyone who knows about a cheating violation (including a bishop) might have an obligation to report it, or to require the student to self-report, as part of the process of repentance.

    Sex is just the opposite. It is, primarily and by definition, a private thing between two individuals. It doesn’t affect anyone else, generally speaking, as the consequences of its misuse happen primarliy to the individuals concerned. This is partly why laws against certain sexual practices have not been enforced by states for many years, and some have been repealed or struck down by courts.

    Because of the above, and because of the sensationalistic and salacious nature of sexual gossip, BYU should not be in the business of allowing private sexual practices to be publicized. The way that sex issues are currently treated by the honor code, and the public suspension of this player in this case, allowed exactly that to happen with regard to him and his girlfriend.

    And it is exactly like a scarlet letter. Try this test, Clark: would you switch places with him, abd have this on your public history for the rest of your life? Would you want your wife or sister or daughter to switch places with his girlfriend? You say that people won’t care in a few years, but every time this player’s name comes up, or his girlfriend’s name, it will trigger this story. How would you like to live with that?

    If the honor code treated sexual matters as a private thing between students and their bishop and God, this could have been handled with appropriate ecclesiastical sanctions, in private, rather than a public muck-dragging. Wouldn’t that be a better thing for all concerned?

    Comment by MCQ — March 7, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  97. Now you’re sounding like me, MCQ, yet when I said it, you and others went on about how this student was a “public figure” and had zero sympathy. Weird…

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 7, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

  98. He is a public figure, in a legal sense. That doesn’t mean BYU should condone or participate in his public humiliation.

    The legal question relates to whether he can prevail in a lawsut against those who publish stories about his private life. He can’t.

    But the legal question isn’t the important one. The more important question is whether BYU should structure its honor code and its enfocrement mechanisms in a way that allows this kind of spectacle to be made of its young people. In my view, it should not.

    Comment by MCQ — March 7, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

  99. MCQ, given the national prominence of the team right now exactly how could they possibly have treated the player the way you want? Either they do nothing in which case he’s given a break others don’t get. (The status quo of far too many athletes back in the 90′s) I mean even if he’s suspended from the team for a short time reporters are going to dig for the facts (as they clearly have done).

    Would I want this? Of course not. But then I’m not a star player on the #3 basketball team in the nation. If you don’t want the pressures of publicity don’t go into sports or acting.

    Comment by Clark — March 7, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

  100. BTW – I don’t get the cheating is public. Real fact of life: few care about grades once you graduate. At best you could make an argument that grades are related to scholarships.

    Also now you’re moving more towards that libertarian angle I asked you about earlier. If you think the honor code should just be tied to public actions that’s fine. I’d disagree. But I can at least understand it.

    Comment by Clark — March 7, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  101. Clark, I don’t know how I can be more clear. I’m not suggesting they do nothing. I’m suggesting they let the something they do be handled by the religious leaders, since its really a religious rule that was broken here, not an academic or athletic one.

    There’s a difference between the honor code, and the enforcement of the code, Clark. All violations don’t have to be treated the same, just as all crimes in the criminal code of a given state are not treated the same.

    Cheating should have academic consequences, because it is an academic violation. If you lose eligibility to play on a team because you get kicked out of school because of an academic violation, then I guess that’s something we have to live with, but do all of these things really need to be connected? Do the rules of the Church need to be connected to academic AND athletic eligibility? All I’m asking for is a little nuance here.

    Consensual sex need not not have religios AND academic AND athletic consequences. You are acting as though it’s just a given that all three areas must be inseparably connected. I’m saying they need not be. I’m saying let’s utilize a little creativity here and make the punishment fit the crime. I’m saying that we need not use a sledgehammer every time, we can use a scalpel.

    Now let me get this straight: You never heard of people looking at grades in order to determine if you get a job or not? Hmmm. What world do you live in, Clark? In my world, not just my first employer, but my first few all looked at my grades. Real fact of life.

    I’m not sure what violations should get you suspended from an athletic team but, to me, consensual sex isn’t one of them. Disfellowshipped? Even excommunicated? Those I understand. But if non-mormons are allowed to play on the team, why shouldn’t disfellowshipped or excommunicated members be allowed to do so?

    I understand that BYU doesn’t want people participating in its programs if those people are unwilling to keep church standards, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. He is willing. He is repentant. He just made a mistake. Let the church punish him for the mistake. The university and the team don’t need to pile on as well.

    The interesting thing is that, the way I understand it, the school has suspended him from the team, but they have not suspended him from school. At least not yet. So, you see, there is some wiggle room here. I just wish that wiggle room could have been used to keep him on the team and keep this out of the press.

    Comment by MCQ — March 7, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  102. One last comment then I’m probably out.

    Clearly one could distinguish academic acts from non-academic acts. However I’m not sure one should if more is being required from a particular academic institution. i.e. what makes an act academic? Merely what other academic institutions care about? And of course at many academic institutions the lines are blurred (think for example of limits on speech). There’s also the interesting question about whether off-campus crime ought then be so treated since if I rob a store it’s hardly an academic issue. (One should remember that one context for all this was a Sports Illustrated cover story on criminal activity by athletes at various universities) If we say we should simply have an honor code that worries only about academics then that’s fine. But we should at least realize what we’d then be permitting.

    I agree all violations needn’t be treated the same. Indeed had one been an athlete at BYU in the 90′s one would have been treated much more lenient than the typical student.

    Some people do care about grades but it’s just not the be all and end all that we thought it was in college. If you’re going to grad school it matters. If you’re not then it’s the exception rather than that rule. And at worst it means you might not get one job you wanted whereas plenty of others are available.

    I’m certainly not against nuance. Although I think that ought apply to everything – even cheaters or the like. It’s an interesting question as BYU clearly wants to be different from the typical academic environment. Others feel that to be academic it shouldn’t be different. Personally for all the kerfuffle over the honor code department a bigger typical issue is Bishops signing or not signing your ecclesiastical endorsement. And there’s a heck of a lot more variance there. I’ve known people whose Bishop wouldn’t sign it simply because they attended their home ward or a girlfriend’s ward too much.

    Should BYU allow Bishops such power over the academics of students? (Especially considering how difficult it is to transfer credits to other universities) There’s a case to be made on both sides. If you think BYU ought be different though then I just don’t see why this player should be treated differently. If we buy your idea of keeping separate the academic and the religious elements then aren’t you saying the Bishop can’t offer any intermediate punishments beyond expelling them? (i.e. the Bishop basically can sign the endorsement or not – as well as offering ecclesiastical limits such as not taking the sacrament, probation, disfellowshipment or excommunication)

    As for the player in question, I don’t know the situation so I’m loath to comment on the particulars. I did find the Deseret News article I’d linked to at the FPR post interesting. This was by Vai Sikahema:

    I cited former Eagles’ running back Reno Mahe and current Chicago Bear Harvey Unga as two examples of former BYU athletes who were dismissed for Honor Code violations, though they were high-profile athletes. Reno returned after two years. Unga wound up going to the NFL. Yet neither is bitter about BYU’s decision; rather they are appreciative. In my experience, that is the typical attitude of the majority of kids who have been through the process. It’s a part of the uniqueness of the BYU student-body.

    I don’t know how true that is. But I found the argument Sikahema made to be pretty compelling. Especially considering all the stuff that was allowed under BYU athletics back in the 90′s.

    Comment by Clark — March 7, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

  103. Just to add:

    But if non-mormons are allowed to play on the team, why shouldn’t disfellowshipped or excommunicated members be allowed to do so?

    Non-Mormons are expected to live exactly the same standards and are required to get ecclesiastical endorsements just like Mormons. So if a non-Mormon was sleeping around under the rules they should experience consequences just like a Mormon. In practice this gets a bit trickier to implement.

    Comment by Clark — March 7, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

  104. I agree with you that ecclesiastical endorsements are a big potential problem area, and I have heard the stories about the very different ways that different bishops have of dealing with these issues. I don’t know how you deal with that, other than perhaps BYU should do some training for bishops in the area every year, in order to make that function more uniformly. It may already do so, I don’t know. Hopefully, the guidance of the spirit helps limit the problems in that area.

    I think your example of criminal behavior is worth talking about, but there is sometimes little choice when there is a criminal violation because those often carry penaties that automatically cause academic ineligibility and athletic ineligibilty. Even when that is not the case, you can hardly blame any uiniversity for suspending people for crimminal violations, because those rules are at the low end of the spectrum of expected behavior. If students can’t even keep from committing those violations, what hope is there for rules governing team discipline and academic ethics?

    By contrast, religious rules are at the high end of the spectrum of behavior. We aspire to be perfect in keeping those rules, but most are not, especially at age 19. Given that, it seems incongruous to have the same consequences for violating a religious rule that we have for violating a criminal rule. In other words, shouldn’t the athletic consequences be different for consexual sex than they are for armed robbery? That’s an extreme example, but the question is still valid.

    Comment by MCQ — March 7, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

  105. #98:
    That doesn’t mean BYU should condone or participate in his public humiliation. . . . The more important question is whether BYU should structure its honor code and its enfocrement mechanisms in a way that allows this kind of spectacle to be made of its young people. In my view, it should not.

    I couldn’t agree more.

    #103:
    Non-Mormons are expected to live exactly the same standards and are required to get ecclesiastical endorsements just like Mormons. So if a non-Mormon was sleeping around under the rules they should experience consequences just like a Mormon.

    Except that if that “Non-Mormon” happened to be an “EX-Mormon,” such as by voluntarily resigning his/her membership in the LDS church, then s/he is completely blocked from attending BYU, regardless of whether or not s/he keeps the behavioral standards of the Honor Code. The “not sleeping around” Ex-Mo is barred entirely from any “ecclesiastical endorsement.”

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 7, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

  106. Even when that is not the case, you can hardly blame any uiniversity for suspending people for crimminal violations, because those rules are at the low end of the spectrum of expected behavior. If students can’t even keep from committing those violations, what hope is there for rules governing team discipline and academic ethics?

    Yes, I promised not to write more. But I have 5 minutes before I have to leave for home.

    I just have a hard time reconciling this to your earlier comments. At BYU sexual immorality is at the low end of the spectrum of expected behavior. I bet if you asked the typical person at BYU which bothered them more an athlete who shoplifted or a sexually active athlete on campus most would say the sex is more bothersome.

    I think you’re basically saying it’s easy not to shoplift, do drugs or whatever but unrealistic to expect people not to fornicate, view pornography or whatever. At least that’s the only way I can make sense of what you are saying.

    Nick, I don’t know if that’s the current case. I know it wasn’t when I was at BYU in the early 90′s. I had a TA in the philosophy department who converted from Mormonism to Catholicism without any trouble that I knew of.

    Comment by Clark — March 7, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  107. Is that true, Nick? My understanding was that non-members, whether former members or not, could attend as long as they kept the honor code and had their ecclesiastical endorsement. What is the source of your info on this?

    Comment by MCQ — March 7, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

  108. Nick, do you think a shoplifter is any less worthy of not being made a spectacle? What about someone guilty of drug use? It seems to me that the whole debate is singling out sexual acts as deserving of special treatment. That’s what I don’t understand.

    After all if we’re going to talk about forgiveness and not letting these things be in the public let’s at least be consistent about it and apply it to all the other activities folks deem unsocial and deserving of censor.

    Comment by Clark — March 7, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

  109. Clark, I just think its silly to get into ranking sins, like is shoplifting worse than sex, etc. They are different and may therefore be treated differently and are in fact treated differently by bishops and state criminal codes alike.

    That said, I think your idea that sex is more bothersome to people than shoplifting is ridiculous. More students violate the law of chastity (especially if you include porn and masturbation) at BYU every weekend than shoplift in an entire year. Especially now when it’s pretty common to get caught by cameras when you shoplift.

    You may live in a different world than I do, Clark, but my understanding of the world of college-age members of the Church is that they have many, many issues with the law of chastity and pretty much always have. Nothing close to perfection is being acheived by BYU students in this regard, now or ever. But most don’t shoplift, if police records are any indication. That’s the reality. Now you can go ahead and debate about which of those sins is worse, but regardless of the outcome of that debate, one will still be happening a lot more frequently than the other.

    Comment by MCQ — March 7, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

  110. I think you mean censure, not censor, Clark.

    Yes, sex is different. It’s a private act. Most people consider their sexual lives to be a matter of the utmost privacy. Most people also understand that their criminal record is not private. Are you seeing the difference yet?

    Comment by MCQ — March 7, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

  111. Clark & MCQ, this link to the Honor Code statement was the basis of my comment:

    http://saas.byu.edu/catalog/2010-2011ucat/GeneralInfo/HonorCode.php

    The statement notes that: “If an endorsement is withdrawn, no confessional information is exchanged without authorization from the student. Students without a current endorsement are not in good Honor Code standing and must discontinue enrollment. Students who are not in good Honor Code standing are not eligible for graduation, even if they have otherwise completed all necessary coursework. Excommunication, disfellowshipment, or disaffiliation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints automatically results in the withdrawal of the student’s ecclesiastical endorsement and the loss of good Honor Code standing. Disaffiliation is defined for purposes of this policy as removal of an individual’s name from the official records of the Church.

    It also says specifically that “Former LDS students are not eligible to receive an ecclesiastical endorsement (see Withdrawn Ecclesiastical Endorsement below).” It then gives a rather daunting process by which a student with “extenuating circumstances” may obtain an exception to the ecclesiastical endorsement process. The burden is specifically placed on the student to demonstrate why his/her extenuating circumstances merit being considered in “good Honor Code standin,” yet the Dean of Students (who makes such decisions) isn’t obligated to actually speak to the student about it. Maybe it’s a stretch to say this is an impossible process, but it sure doesn’t sound like there’s much chance for success.

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 7, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

  112. #108:
    108.Nick, do you think a shoplifter is any less worthy of not being made a spectacle? What about someone guilty of drug use? It seems to me that the whole debate is singling out sexual acts as deserving of special treatment. That’s what I don’t understand.

    I don’t think the Honor Code office should be turning anyone into a public spectacle, Clark. That said, you and I both know that LDS doctrine considers “sexual sin” next to murder in seriousness. Public discipline for sexual behavior is, therefore, a much greater spectacle.

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 7, 2011 @ 7:08 pm

  113. Interesting, Nick. I didn’t know that and I’m not sure I understand it. But it is really beyond the scope of this post. Maybe we can discuss that another time.

    Comment by MCQ — March 7, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

  114. MCQ, I just don’t buy your public vs. private distinction in practice. It’s not clear to me what makes something private or public other than the fact many in the wider American public simply deem it as such. Which begs the question of whether we should share those values. But I suspect we’re not going to convince each other. But I certainly understand your position much better than I did earlier in the thread. (Where I admit I was pretty confused)

    Nick, I believe that was the same as when I was at BYU. (Although I could be wrong) I didn’t like it then, but as I said there were people who managed to stay despite converting to an other faith. That is something I think BYU should change.

    Regarding “public spectacle” I think that’s unfortunately just part and parcel of being a public figure. I can pretty well guarantee that had this kid been a golfer or something no one would have cared. Pretty well as soon as a star player is told he can’t play then the press will go crazy with the rest. The only other solution is, as I mentioned, to not subject the athletes to the same discipline others students get. And, as I said, that was done in the 90′s which resulted in a lot of abuse. (Seriously – I remember going to one party and seeing about 15 players smoking weed and drinking)

    The other alternative is to just completely divorce religion from BYU. But other than making an artificial public/private divide (and I really do think it inherently artificial) I just don’t see how that can be done. If BYU demands certain accountability for continued privileges including following the law of chastity then that will always mean that for any figure in the media that losing those privileges will lead to spectacle. There’s just no other way around it.

    But I think we’re going around in circles so I’ll drop out.

    Comment by Clark — March 8, 2011 @ 12:10 am

  115. Consensual sex need not not have religios AND academic AND athletic consequences.

    As I suggested above, when the Book of Life is opened, I believe we will find BYU in agreement with you that consensual sex by itself is not sufficient to warrant academic and athletic consequences.

    Comment by Peter LLC — March 8, 2011 @ 5:04 am

  116. Peter, you can keep saying that, but all the evidence we have says that is all that he did. Are we just supposed to assume otherwise?

    Comment by MCQ — March 8, 2011 @ 7:21 am

  117. Evidence? I’ll put my unnamed source against anyone!

    Comment by Peter LLC — March 8, 2011 @ 8:22 am

  118. Note, however, that

    If I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. — Bertrand Russell

    Comment by Peter LLC — March 8, 2011 @ 8:26 am

  119. West Point
    It’s not only the religious schools that have strict rules for students. At West Point, some Friday nights have mandatory study hours, and students aren’t allowed to sit on the same piece of furniture as someone of the opposite sex.When there is no honor in the white house ,we complain about honor codes in our colleges.Maybe we need more honor codes and then we would have better politicians.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 14, 2011 @ 7:36 am

  120. marv, you’re missing the point. This post isn’t intended to be critical of honor codes in general, or even BYU’s honor code in particular, just the way it was enforced in this instance.

    Also, your link between honor codes and polititians is, in my opinion, a complete red herring.

    Comment by MCQ — March 14, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

  121. MCQ maybe I missed the point ,but i did not miss your comment ,, “this seems like a very antiquated rule”,,,,that seems you think you know what is needed as a rule better then the school,just like some politicians believe that their interpretation of the constitution is better then that of 200 years of history.Morality is not antiquated,but there are those who want to dismiss it.I love your site,brother Young said we should always seek the truth on our own ,and that we should never follow blindly.He also said we should pray about the truths we find.GREAT SITE ,KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 14, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

  122. marv, this is not the place for you to repost the grammatically challenged meanderings of your daughter’s blog. If you want to comment or if she wants to visit here and comment both of you are welcome.

    You might want to inform her, however, that the press has not been condemning BYU in this instance, but rather has almost universally praised BYU for sticking to its principles.

    Your quotation from my post is out of context. What I said was:

    Please understand that I’m not disparaging the honor coder per se, nor am I saying that exceptions should be made for anyone, I’m merely suggesting that, to most people, this seems like a very antiquated rule, and one that is particularly problematic in its enforcement, because there’s just no way it can truly be enforced evenhandedly.

    Note that I was not saying that the rule was antiquated, I was saying that “most people” probably think it is. I specifically disclaimed any attempt on my part to substitute any other rule for the honor code. Instead, as I stated again above, I’m just arguing for a better way to enforce the code.

    Please tell me you’re not equating the BYU honor code with the constitution. Also, please be aware that “200 years of history” does not provide any interpretation of the constitution. The supreme court does.

    Comment by MCQ — March 15, 2011 @ 7:29 am

  123. you must live in a bubble,here in California ,news stations have suggested that BYU has over reacted and that they should back off for the needs of the many.Spock most likely would agree.I for one believe that any person who is in a position of being an example needs to be held to a higher standard then you or I. You can throw stones at my daughter,small minds attack when they are backed into a corner ,but I do not believe that is you,I think you just forgot for a moment to be the child of God you were expected to be.Opinions are free and that is what they are worth,the final test is how we treat one another and I pray for this young man,he is also a child of God and needs our love and kindness.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 17, 2011 @ 3:54 pm

  124. marv, I don’t live in a bubble. I have written about this topic and researched it extensively. Take a look at a general google search on this topic. Most news outlets have praised BYU. So much so that there has be gun to be a bit of a backlash, with reporters such as those on this podcast, saying that, amid all the praise of BYU, we should be asking whether race played a role in the enforcement of the honor code.

    It’s been acknowledged by practically everyone that BYU has received a ton of support from almost every news source in the country, some surprisingly so. See comment #92 above for evidence of this. You and your daughter are the only persons I have heard yet who have complained that BYU is being in any way villified. You’re entitled to your opinion of course, as is your daughter, but please be aware that it is a minority opinion at best.

    Finally, please don’t accuse me of being backed into a corner, or of having a small mind, just because I accurately characterize your daughter’s prose as “grammatically challenged.” Not all criticism is an attack, marv. Although some small minds find it hard to remember that.

    Comment by MCQ — March 17, 2011 @ 11:33 pm

  125. your selective reading of what i said is funny,i said i did not believe you had a small mind ,that you went off on my daughter because you forgot who you are.I see you and your site as positive contributions to the Blogosphere. I have in my 68 years met many people who are so tuned in on their response that they never hear what is said to them.I am not attacking you or your site.My spelling and my grammar are poor.I spent the 60′s serving my country while my friends protested at their college of choice.I spent 35 years repairing computers for IBM so I could raise a great family.I could crawl into a hole and never express my opinions because someone who has had the privilege of a better education says that I don’t count because of my prose.Tell that to all the young men who hold the line of freedom so you have the right to look down on people,,God loves you and all people,do you love all people?

    Comment by marv thompson — March 18, 2011 @ 5:36 am

  126. In response to your post 39 ,God has a law that he and we fallow, it is the law of agency,we have the right to choose.Our young player could choose a college that was more in line with his moral values,but he chose a school with very strict values .He made two choices ,one to go to that college and two to break its code.He is not a bad person ,but when we make these choices we need to except the consequence.Your post was about the correctness of his treatment,and not about how the press treated BYU.I am at fault for getting off tract,you can blame that on my local tv station.In the late sixties i spent time in washington dc and there were blue laws that restricted buying on the Sabbath.These laws are no longer enforced,and America is not a better place then it was then.Thanks to free agency we can all observe blue laws or reject them. I am a Mormon who gambles,this is me and my free agency,but i am also not a role model for kids who love basketball.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 18, 2011 @ 6:14 am

  127. I’m glad to hear that you weren’t saying what it sounded like you were saying marv.

    You say the player must accept the consequences of his actions. I agree. The problem is that the consequences are not well known ahead of time or evenly enforced after the fact.

    For example: Is every athlete who has sex at BYU kicked off their athletic team? Are they all suspended from schoool? Expelled? Disfellowshipped? Excommunicated? Lose their scholarships? Get their names dragged through the national press?

    Some of the consequences are within the control of BYU and some are not, but none are explained in the honor code as being certain to occur upon particular violations. That being the case, how is a person to know what consequences are going to be the result of his actions in this situation?

    We can all agree that this player made a foolish choice, but I doubt when he made the choice that he had any idea of the consequences he would face. Does that excuse him? No. But maybe it should elicit more of a nuanced response from us than “he made his bed, now he has to lie in it.”

    Comment by MCQ — March 18, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

  128. Life is not fair,as you drive across country you cross many state lines. Each state you enter has their own set of laws and you are unable to know them all. When you plead ignorance ,you can guess what the judge says.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 18, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

  129. marv, that’s not an apt comparison. Each state has laws that are published. You can find them and access them online, including the possible penalties for violating those laws. Additionally, because of the media, we all have pretty good ideas about what constitutes a violation of law, and what the consequences might be.

    I’m sure the BYU player in this case knew he was violating the honor code, but there is a difference between the honor code and criminal statutes. The honor code doesn’t give you the consequences of violation. Obviously, some violators are never caught, but beyond that, even those who are caught or who turn themselves in have a very wide range of outcomes, so you can never be sure that two people who commit the same violation are treated at all alike.

    In addition to that, there are some outcomes that are out of BYU’s control and result from the specific circumstances. In the present case, the fact that the basketball team relied heavily on this player was not in any one’s control, nor was the fact that the team was ranked #3 in the country.

    But what might have been anticipated was the level of media scrutiny that those facts would cause, when combined with a suspension of this athlete. Given the anticipated level of scrutiny, might there have been a better way to handle this situation?

    Here’s an example: the player wasn’t immediately suspended from school. Why? If there’s some flexibility on academic suspension, why can’t there be flexibility on athletic suspension, especially in light of this particular situation?

    Keeping the player on the team and handling the matter as a religious/spiritual matter that required religious/spiritual penalties, rather than athletic ones (there have been no academic ones so far) would have preserved the athlete’s (and his girlfriend’s) privacy and allowed a team to not be penalized for one player’s off-court mistake. Better all around.

    Comment by MCQ — March 18, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

  130. You said that BYU has been praised by the press,seems ,we are hot or we are cold,BYU had no choice .Once it became general knowledge that this young man broke the code ,there was no other option.I wish I could say that most Byu students live all the standards,but i know that that is not true.I do not know where you are in life but let me give you some advice from an old man. When raising my kids I was very strict ,I drew the line of conduct inside the line the church used as standards.You see I did this because I knew something from experience,all young adults rebel from their parents rules .This is how they become individuals. The trick is to draw the line in such a way that when your kids cross the line they are still in fairly safe territory. Moral values are not old fashion,they are Gods laws.MY children broke some church standards ,but none of the big ones.they all have temple marriages,date nights,and they are raising great kids.I truly believe that if I had been less strict I would not be as proud of my kids as I am now. My daughter shared housing at BYU with other girls who broke the codes and it made her sad,these were girls who had grown up in the gospel and the first time away from home they threw away their values.My daughter took a break from college life to go on a mission,she was able to do this because she kept the standards. You want to fight the fight of unfairness,how about the famous Mormons who do not serve missions when the prophet says all worthy young men should serve a mission,we hold these famous mormons up as examples ,but they avoided doing some of the really hard things because of their fame. Now there is an issue I could stand with you on.

    The school has what to the rest of the academic world is a strict and perhaps old-fashioned honor code. Among its tenets: Be honest, live a chaste and virtuous life, use clean language, participate regularly in church services, observe dress and grooming standards (no beards or ear rings for men, no “form-fitting” clothing or more than one ear piercing for women), and abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse.

    In order to remain “chaste and virtuous,” one must not engage in premarital sex. Students have to sign the honor code every year.

    While most sports commentators say they can’t imagine themselves (or most people, especially athletes) operating under such rules of behavior, BYU’s swift action in the face of an admitted violation has caused many to reexamine general sports behavior by comparison.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 19, 2011 @ 2:17 am

  131. Once it became general knowledge that this young man broke the code ,there was no other option

    That is a flat lie, marv. No one knew about the code violation until BYU announced this suspension. They could have handled it in-house, with sanctions that were not public. They haven’t suspended him from school. Why? Because they absolutely do have a choice in how they handle these things. They have options. Saying otherwise is just false. Period.

    The rest of your comment is just a rehash of things that everyone knows and agrees with. I’m glad you think all your kids are living great lives, but don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back. there are a lot of strict parents who had kids who rebelled a lot more than yours. It’s not because they weren’t strict enough.

    This discussion is not about whether BYU is too strict in it’s honor code. No one is suggesting they trash the code and become hippies. Your recitation of the code and praise for its precepts is irrelevant to this discussion.

    The question is whether BYU’s “swift action” was the correct swift action or whether there were other swift actions availbale to them that would have been better. Why can’t you discuss that question, marv? Why do you keep talking all around it and never talk about the question we are actually discussing? Because you’d rather just spout easy platitudes and brag about your parenting skills, I guess.

    Comment by MCQ — March 19, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  132. You have made up your mind about what has taken place but as in all church actions ,only those involved in this code violation know all the facts.You can as a member of the church question the actions of your leaders,in fact it is your responsibility to do so. What I see you doing is not questioning their actions ,You have determined that they have done wrong and some how this knowledge makes you happy.Thank you for this site and the ability for diverse ideas,but it would be nice if you started with an open mind.Yes even God lost a third of his children,but he did his best and that is all he expects us to do in our steward ship over our kids. I am the oldest of eight children and we all are not active members,but I do my best to gently guide them back to the fold.I do this because I love them,as i love this young man who is finding his way back from a small mistake .Yes i said small ,morality failures are not the end of life,but they do need to be addressed.I was executive secretary for some short time.Many of my ward members and I went to a know your religion talk one night.The next night my phone was flooded with calls from members who wanted an appointment with the bishop,this included myself.we were all carrying burdens that we did not need.I for one was relieved to drop my burden at the feet of a judge in Israel.I think our basketball player feels the same way and if you could talk to him you might feel the same way.Could this situation be handled differently,maybe .The positive message that has come from this event has far and away out weigh any negative. Many of the above post suggest that the world is not fair,can you except that and forgive BYU for it’s minor fault in your eyes. This horse is dead and I hope to see you post something new that you and I could discuss,may God bless you and yours.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 21, 2011 @ 12:14 am

  133. Thanks marv, that’s a very good comment.

    Note, though, that I was not criticizing what was done by the bishop in this case, since i know nothing about that. I was only criticizing the school’s actions. And there is really nothing to forgive, since I dont consider BYU has offended me.

    New topic tomorrow I hope!

    Comment by MCQ — March 21, 2011 @ 1:23 am

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