Church Educational System Honor Code
The Church Educational System (CES) Honor Code is a set of standards by which students and faculty attending a school owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) are required to live. The most widely known university that is part of the Church Educational System (CES) that has adopted the honor code is Brigham Young University (BYU), located in Provo, Utah. The standards are largely derived from codes of conduct of the LDS Church, and were not put into written form until the 1940s. Since then, they have undergone several changes. The CES Honor Code also applies for students attending BYU's sister schools Brigham Young University–Idaho, Brigham Young University–Hawaii, and LDS Business College.
Early forms of the CES Honor Code are found as far back as the days of the Brigham Young Academy and early school president, Karl G. Maeser. Maeser created the "Domestic Organization", which was a group of teachers who would visit students at their homes to see that they were following the school's moral rules prohibiting obscenity, profanity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Maeser also, however, relied largely on individual student's honor and honesty in keeping the rules, intending faculty visits as times of counsel rather than espionage. After George H. Brimhall served as president, enforcement became somewhat more lax (there were no more faculty visits), but adherence to the same basic principles were encouraged. The 1930s and 40s saw increased standards regarding rules related to student housing and dress codes. Women were allowed to wear slacks only on Saturdays, and men wore uniforms for a short time.
In 1949 students drafted the first Honor Code enforced by an Honor Council of students and administrators, and was used mainly for cases of cheating and academic dishonesty. The Student Honor Council, created around 1949, oversaw case violations. This council met with enough success among students in alleviating cheating that in 1957 BYU president Ernest L. Wilkinson suggested the Honor Code expand to include other school standards. This led to an expansion during the 1960s which created the bulk of what the Honor Code represents today: rules regarding chastity, dress, grooming, drugs, and alcohol.
In the 1960s, several rules regarding longer hairstyles in men were introduced after long hair on men became associated with the radical movements then springing up on college campuses around the country. However, long hair and beards were not completely against the rules until the mid-1970s. The 1960s also saw changes in rules regarding women's dress, as LDS Church leaders made statements against low-cut dresses and short skirts. By this time, women were allowed to wear slacks and pant-suits, but jeans were not allowed until 1981.
In March 2008, the University of Texas at San Antonio was accused of plagiarizing a portion of BYU's honor code related to cheating and plagiarism. Southern Virginia University, which also espouses LDS standards, uses a similar code of conduct. The Honor Code received national attention in March 2011 when the university dismissed BYU basketball player Brandon Davies from the team for violating the code, reportedly by having premarital sex, the same day the college basketball rankings came out listing BYU as the #3 team in the nation. Davies was reinstated to the university the next school year, and returned to the basketball team, where he completed his athletic eligibility in 2013.
Controversy surrounding the BYU's honor code has grown, with criticism from students, advocacy groups, local governmental institutions, and national press coverage. In 2007 Fox News highlighted BYU's blocking of pornographic and other sites, including YouTube, from campus Internet connections, pursuant to the code's prohibition of the viewing of pornographic material. BYU lifted the YouTube ban in 2009, again receiving nationwide press attention. In 2014, an activist group composed of BYU alumni and students asked the BYU Board to reform the Honor Code to allow LDS students to change their religion, then subsequently challenged BYU's accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities on the basis of the honor code's suppression of academic and religious freedom. In 2015, religion scholar Dr. Mark Juergensmeyer boycotted a religious freedom conference held on BYU campus in protest over its policy of expelling and terminating LDS students who lose their faith. In 2015-2016, the American Bar Association reviewed formal complaints stemming from a student's allegations that the honor code violates the Association's non-discrimination standards; the student had written a book that laid out why same-sex marriage was not, according to his research, at odds with the LDS Church's teachings. Shortly after the submission of the American Bar Association complaint, BYU added an "Application for Exception" clause that would theoretically enable a formerly LDS applicant to be accepted if certain criteria are met.
Beginning in 2014 and continuing through 2016, several students have alleged that when they reported being raped, the school punished them for violating the honor code. Some students report that, after having been victimized by a rapist, they were told they were guilty of sexual sin because of past actions that came to light in connection to their sexual assaults. This atmosphere may prevent some students from being willing to report similar crimes to police, a situation that local law enforcement have publicly criticized. The Victim Services Coordinator of the Provo Police Department called for an amnesty clause to be added to the Honor Code which would excuse rape survivors for past infractions of BYU policies. Hollingshead states "The victim of a sexual assault will never be referred to the Honor Code Office for being a victim of sexual assault. A report of sexual assault would always be referred to the BYU Title IX Office – not to the Honor Code office." BYU launched a review of the practice which concluded in October 2016. BYU announced several changes to how it would handle sexual assault reports, including adding an amnesty clause for the victim of sexual misconduct, and ensuring under most circumstances that information is not shared between the Title IX Office and Honor Code Office without the survivor's consent.
Policies on Homosexuality
Before the 1960s there was little explicit mention of homosexuality by BYU administration, but by 1962 a ban on homosexual students was enacted. On 12 September 1962 Apostles Spencer W. Kimball and Mark E. Peterson and BYU President Ernest L. Wilkinson agreed on a university policy that "no one will be admitted as a student ... whom we have convincing evidence is a homosexual". They agreed to share information about individuals cases of homosexual members between general church administration and BYU administration. This policy was reiterated in Wilkinson's address to BYU in 1965 when he stated "we [do not] intend to admit to this campus any homosexuals. ... [I]f any of you have this tendency, ... may I suggest you leave the University immediately .... We do not want others on this campus to be contaminated by your presence." The 1967 version of the Honor code stated that "homosexuality will not be tolerated" along with not approving "any form of artificial birth control".
The ban on any homosexually oriented students was softened a decade later by Wilkinson's successor Dallin H. Oaks in a 19 April 1973 Board of Trustees meeting. There it was decided BYU would allow students who had "repented of" homosexual acts and "forsaken" them for a "lengthy period of time". Additionally they would allow students "guilty of irregular sexual behavior" (not including fornication or adultery equivalents) who were "repentant" and "showed evidence" that the act(s) would "not be repeated" while still banning "overt and active homosexuals". According to the Standards Office director from 1971 to 1981, all homosexual BYU students who were reported to the Standards Office (now called the Honor Code Office) were either expelled, or, for "less serious" offenses, were required to undergo therapy in order to remain at the university; in "special cases" this treatment included "electroshock and vomiting aversion therapies". This program of aversion therapy—which spanned from the late 1950s until at least the late 1970s—was dedicated to "curing" male homosexual students reported by bishops and BYU administrators through administering electrical shocks or vomit inducing drugs while showing "nude" pictures of men to the patient in an attempt to associate pain with homosexual visual stimulation.
In the late 1990s a reference to "homosexual conduct" was added to the code, and in 2001 Associate Dean of Students Lane Fischer over the BYU Honor Code Office stated that it was "inappropriate" for a BYU student to "advocate for the [homosexual] lifestyle" by publishing material or participating in public demonstrations as well as advertising ones "same-sex preference in any public way." He also required homosexual students facing discipline to refrain from same-sex "dating, holding hands, kissing, romantic touching, showering, clubbing, ets., as well as regular association with homosexual men." In 2007, BYU changed the honor code to read that stating one's sexual orientation was not an honor code issue while removing the phrase that "any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code." The change also clarified the policy on advocacy of LGBTQ rights or romantic relationships. Several students, including gay and lesbian students, thought that the previous wording was confusing and unclear. While both homosexuals and heterosexuals must abide by the church's law of chastity (i.e. no sexual relations outside of marriage, no crude language, and no pornography), the Honor Code additionally prohibits all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings (i.e. dating, kissing). There is no similar restriction against expressing heterosexual feelings. It does make clear, however, that sexual orientation is not an honor code issue. In 2011, BYU removed a clause that prohibited advocating homosexuality or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable. Several civil rights organizations, including Soulforce, have criticized BYU's Honor Code for its practices.
Controversy surrounding the BYU's honor code has grown since 2014, with criticism from students, advocacy groups, local governmental institutions, and national press coverage. Various LGBT advocacy groups have protested the honor code and criticized it as being anti-gay, In the fall of 2016 BYU faced national criticism when many called its Honor Code policies for LGBT students discriminatory while the university was being considered as an addition to the Big 12 Conference. The Princeton Review has regularly ranked BYU among the most LGBT-unfriendly schools in the United States and the campus currently offers no official LGBT-specific resources after revoking permission in 2012 for the unofficial university gay-straight alliance USGA to continue meeting on campus.
The CES Honor Code governs not only academic behavior, but morality, and dress and grooming standards of students and faculty, with the aim of providing an atmosphere consistent with LDS principles. The Honor Code requires:
- Abstinence from illicit drugs, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea (substances forbidden by the LDS Word of Wisdom)
- Encouraging others in their commitment to keep the Honor Code
- Living a chaste and virtuous life:
- Obedience to the law
- Active participation in church services (according to whatever religion a student is a member)
- Respect for others
- Clean language (no profanity)
- Following the "Residential Living Standards" (visiting hours for members of the opposite sex)
- Dress and Grooming Standards: Abiding by the guidelines for dress, grooming, and housing. Skirts must reach to the knee and shirts may not be sleeveless. Form fitting, strapless and revealing clothing is not appropriate. Male students may not wear beards or goatees, hair length must be above the ears, and sideburns must not extend below the ear lobe.
- Students are prohibited from having guns on campus.
Honor code policies and principles are promoted by BYUSA, the campus student association, and the Honor Code Office. The office handles all accusations and violations, and works in conjunction with bishops of BYU wards. If the student's bishop is thought to be able to corroborate the alleged infraction, the accused student may be required to sign a legal form waiving his or her rights to ecclesiastical privacy, which allows the school direct access to the bishop and any content discussed on the said topic, or others which may have been in violation of the Honor Code, but not yet reported. Not all students at the school are familiar with LDS standards, so students who break the code for the first time are usually only contacted by mail as a warning and clarification of standards. Later violations may cause the student to be called into the office to speak with an Honor Code officer. Severe and continued violations can merit expulsion. Students may be brought to the attention of the Honor Code office by faculty, staff, or other students. BYU Events Staff patrol school dances for Honor Code violations. Cafeteria, library, athletics, and BYU Testing Center employees are asked to encourage students to follow dress and grooming standards, sometimes denying service to students not adhering to the code.
In regards to facial hair restrictions, permission to wear facial hair can be granted in three specific cases: For men with skin conditions aggravated by shaving, for theatrical performances, and for religious needs. In regards to medical exemptions, students/faculty must visit a BYU Student Health Center doctor who will fax a recommendation to the Honor Code office. The student/faculty must then visit the office to fill out the requisite exemption paperwork. A new BYU ID card is issued including a symbol marked "BE" and a photograph with the facial hair. In regards to theater exemptions, students or faculty must obtain written permission from the theater or film company explaining the need for facial Such exemptions are only granted for the duration of the production. Thus, in such cases a temporary exemption card issued. Religious exemptions will be coordinated through the university chaplain's office.
The CES Honor Code has been attacked by Darron Smith, a former BYU instructor, as being applied in a racially disparate manner. However, Vai Sikahema, a former BYU football player and native Tongan, defended the honor code, saying that it was not racist and citing a number of players, from a variety of racial backgrounds, who had positive experiences at BYU. He said that although the honor code isn't perfect, it is constantly evolving and is better than it was in the 1970s and '80s.
Students have the option of living in on-campus housing, with family members who reside in the local area, or in off-campus housing which must pass a school inspection for health and safety, as well as satisfactory separation of gender quarters and compliance with other standards. Students under certain conditions can apply for a housing waiver for special approval.
- Single parents with children.
- Single students living with parents.
- Single students who are taking classes away from Provo.
- Graduate students.
- Under certain conditions, as determined by the Off-Campus Housing Office, the university housing requirement may be waived for other students who have a special circumstance or hardship.
This approval is designed to ensure that students live in a safe environment that is consistent with the standards of the University. Since students are only allowed to live in BYU-approved housing, landlords in the area consider it important to meet the standard in order to gain residents. The housing standards mandate that bathrooms and bedrooms be off limits to those of the opposite sex. Members of the opposite sex are required to be out of the apartment by midnight. Guns are permitted in off-campus housing only if the gun owner receives written permission from both the landlord and all residents in the apartment.
In 2003, BYU announced that beginning in 2007, housing would only be approved if it was within 2 miles (3.2 km) of campus. The school did this out of concern that its Office of Residence Life was being stretched too thin and was unable to meet demands. Students feared the new boundaries might lead to a rise in apartment prices and decrease the amount of available housing. According to BYU, the effect would be minimal, as 98 percent of students already lived within the designated area. About 40 properties lost BYU approval due to the new guideline.
- Bergera, Gary James; Priddis, Ronald (1985). "Chapter 3: Standards & the Honor Code". Brigham Young University: A House of Faith. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-34-6. OCLC 12963965.
- Piper, Matthew (29 Oct 2016). "The history of BYU's Honor Code: From 'an institution practically without rules' to one that exterminates 'beetles, beatniks or buzzards,' and beyond". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- Haurwitz, Ralph K.M. (March 31, 2008). "The lowdown on higher education". statesman.com. Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
- "UTSA students apparently plagiarized honor code". Houston Chronicle. AP. March 30, 2008. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
- Forde, Pat (March 2, 2011). "BYU puts principle over performance". ESPN. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
- Kavanagh, Jim (March 3, 2011). "No. 3 BYU loses after dismissing player for honor code violation". CNN. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
- Drew, Jay (March 2, 2011). "BYU's Brandon Davies apologizes to teammates". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
- "Police criticize BYU investigations into sex assault victims". The Olympian. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
- Schouten, Lucy (2016-04-30). "BYU rape controversy: Could honor code 'amnesty' be a solution?". Christian Science Monitor. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
- Hern, Maria L. La Ganga Dan; ez (2016-04-30). "'You're a sinner': how a Mormon university shames rape victims". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
- "Brigham Young University Bans YouTube Access for Students". Fox News. AP. 2007-02-17.
- "Brigham Young University Lifts YouTube Ban". Huffington Post. 27 June 2009.
- Chamberlain, Caleb, "Letter to the BYU Board of Trustees", FreeBYU blog, 'FreeBYU', retrieved May 21, 2016
- Knox, Annie, "BYU graduates complain to accrediting board over school's treatment of lapsed-Mormon students", News, 'Salt Lake Tribune', retrieved May 21, 2016
- "Why I Boycotted a Conference at Brigham Young University", Religion Dispatches Blog, 'Religion Dispatches', retrieved May 21, 2016
- "Law Student Says He Was Almost Expelled for Writing in Favor of Gay Marriage". Fusion. Retrieved 2016-05-03.
- Tribune, Annie Knox The Salt Lake. "National bar group looking into discrimination claim at BYU law school". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2016-05-03.
- Journal, ABA. "ABA Section of Legal Ed considers complaint over BYU Law's policy of expulsion of ex-Mormons". ABA Journal. Retrieved 2016-05-03.
- "Inquiry Into BYU Law School's Expulsion of Ex-Mormons Proceeds". National Law Journal. Retrieved 2016-05-03.
- "Church Educational System Honor Code". [BYU]. November 9, 2015. Retrieved 2016-07-16.
- "Punished after reporting rape at Brigham Young University". www.13abc.com. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
- Schulzke, Tad Walch, Eric (2016-04-30). "Would BYU honor code be better with an amnesty clause like Southern Virginia's?". DeseretNews.com. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
- "Petition aims to shield sex abuse victims from punishment over Mormon college's 'honor code'". UPI. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
- "BYU's 'honor code' is making victims of sexual assault afraid to tell police". Business Insider. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
- "Utah Police Official Condemns BYU Honor Code in Wake of Sexual Assault Protests: 'It Keeps Victims from Coming Forward'". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- Neugebauer, Cimaron (October 26, 2016). "BYU changes how it reports sexual assaults on campus, effective immediately". KUTV. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
- Anderson, Seth. "Timeline of Mormon Thinking About Homosexuality". NoMoreStrangers.org. No More Strangers: LGBT Mormon Forum. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
- Wilkinson, Ernest L. (12 September 1962). BYU Diary. BYU Library Special Collections UA 1000 Box 101 Folder 1: Brigham Young University. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
- Wilkinson, Ernest (23 Sep 1965). Make Honor Your Standard. Brigham Young University. p. 8.
- Wilkinson, Ernest (13 Nov 1965). "Make Honor Your Standard". Deseret News: Church News: 11.
- Wilkinon, Ernest L. (18 August 1967). Presidential Files, Memorandum: Conference Held with First Presidency. Provo, UT, BYU HBLL Special Collections UA 1000 Box 271 Folder 22: BYU. p. 2. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- BYU Board Meeting Minutes. BYU Library Special Collections: BYU. 19 April 1973. pp. 6–7.
- O'Donovan, Connell. "Private Pain, Public Purges: A History of Homosexuality at Brigham Young University". Retrieved 16 November 2016.
- Corcoran, Brent; O'Donovan, Rocky (1994). Multiply and Replenish: Mormon Essays on Sex and Family. Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books. p. 155. ISBN 1560850507. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- James, Susan Donaldson (March 30, 2011), "Mormon 'Gay Cure' Study Used Electric Shocks Against Homosexual Feelings", Good Morning America, ABC News, retrieved July 2, 2014
- Quinn, D. Michael (1996). Same-Sex Dynamics among Ninceteenth-Century Americans. University of Illinois Press. pp. 377, 379. ISBN 978-0252022050.
- Waterman, Bryan; Kagel, Brian (1998). The Lord’s University: Freedom and Authority at BYU. Signature books. p. 162. ISBN 1-56085-117-1. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- McBride, Ford (Aug 1976). Effects of Visual Stimuli in Electric Aversion Therapy. Provo, UT, USA: BYU Department of Psychology. p. 43. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
- Harryman, Don D., With All Thy Getting, Get Understanding, Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons, retrieved August 19, 2011
- Beaver, Michelle (March 20, 2011), "Can gays be 'cured'? Controversial practice attempts just that", San Jose Mercury News
- Collins, Mark (16 October 2011). "Theater: '14' examines violent therapy for gay Mormons in the 1970s". Daily Camera. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Weakland, Sean. "Legacies". Yale University Library. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
- Cowan, Reed. 8: The Mormon Proposition. David v. Goliath Films.
- "Question #27629", The 100 Hour Board, BYU, August 12, 2006, retrieved August 26, 2011
- Bergera, James; Priddis, Ronald (1985). Brigham Young University: A House of Faith. Signature Books. p. 82. ISBN 0941214346. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Stewart, Kirsten (29 March 2001). "BYU Brass Suspend Two Gays". The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Lyon, Julia (17 April 2007). "BYU changes honor code text about gay students". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
- Walch, Tad (18 April 2007). "BYU clarifies Honor Code about gay orientation". LDS Church. Deseret News. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
- Morrison, Jenna (April 17, 2007), "BYU Clarifies Honor Code", The Universe, BYU
- "Church Educational System Honor Code", 2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog, BYU
- "BYU removes pro-gay advocacy from its honor code", QSaltLake, QSaltLake, February 2, 2011
- Kneefel, Brandon (April 17, 2007), "Brigham Young University Revises Policy on Sexuality; Discriminatory Policy Revisited After Soulforce Equality Riders Visit", archives.soulforce.org, Soulforce
- Jon Adams (August 7, 2007), "The Case Against Brigham Young University", Unscrewing The Inscrutable (blog), Brent Rasmussen, retrieved 2014-04-10
- "BYU Continues the Legacy of Anti-Gay Policies", HeartStrong.
- "Brigham Young University Pages", Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons.
- "The 2006 Equality Ride Route: Brigham Young University", Soulforce.
- Trotter, Jake (8 August 2016). "LGBT groups: Admitting BYU would be 'inconsistent' with Big 12 values". ABC News. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
- Trotter, Jake (22 September 2016). "The latest developments in Big 12 expansion". ESPN. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
- Drew, Jay (17 October 2016). "BYU athletics: Big 12 presidents say no to expansion, leaving Cougars outside looking in". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
- Mandel, Stewart (15 November 2016). "25 LGBT groups send letter to Big 12 urging it to shun BYU". Fox News. Fox Sports. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
- Judd, Brandon (8 August 2016). "In letter, LGBT groups say Big 12 shouldn't add BYU". LDS Church. Deseret News. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
- Mayne, Mitch (10 August 2016). "'Groundhog Day' For Mormon Bigotry: BYU's Exclusion From Big 12 Highlights Discriminatory Church Policies On LGBT". Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
- "LGBT groups urge Big 12 to pass on adding BYU to conference". Fox News. Associated Press. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
- "Ranking Categories: Demographics - LGBTQ-Unfriendly", Princeton Review College Ranking, The Princeton Review, retrieved April 9, 2012
- Knox, Annie (11 August 2015). "BYU, other Christian schools ranked among the least LGBT-friendly campuses". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
- Lee, Ashley (14 September 2016). "BYU added to LGBT organization's 'Shame List'". The Daily Universe. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
- Gleeson, Scott (10 August 2016). "Could BYU's LGBT policies really deter Big 12 move?". USA Today. USA Today. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- 05.13.148:45 AM ET. "Mormon U. Forces Gays to Be Celibate". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
- "Church Educational System Honor Code", 2014-2015 Undergraduate Catalog, Brigham Young University
- Johnson, David (February 28, 2006), "Concealed Weapons Prohibited at BYU", The Universe, BYU
- Miller, Nicole (January 18, 2007), "Honor Code Exists to Uphold Gospel Principles, Create Environment", The Universe, BYU
- Stuart, Elizabeth (May 26, 2006), "Universities use social networks to find misbehaving students", The Universe, BYU
- Westenskow, Rosalie (January 17, 2006), "BYU Dances Keeping it Clean", The Universe, BYU
- Payne, Sara Elizabeth (September 13, 2005), "HBLL reviews Honor Code enforcement", The Universe, BYU
- Phillip, Abby (January 14, 2015), "Brigham Young University adjusts anti-beard policies amid student protests", The Washington Post
- Luke O'Brien; Darron Smith (April 13, 2011), "The Truth About Race, Religion, And The Honor Code At BYU", deadspin.com, Deadspin
- Vai Sikahema (April 22, 2011), "Vai's View: On the honor code and accountability", Deseret News
- "BYU Contracted Housing", BYU Off Campus Housing, BYU
- "Off-Campus Housing", 2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog, BYU
- Shippen, Rebecca (June 12, 2006), "Honor code influence helps and hampers student housing", The Universe, BYU
- Forschler, Leaa (June 2, 2005), "BYU housing office prohibits firearms in apartments", The Universe, BYU
- Larson, Lesley (June 12, 2006), "Students resistant to and confused by new housing boundaries", The Universe, BYU
- Turkewitz, Julie (November 17, 2014). "At Brigham Young, Students Push to Lift Ban on Beards". The New York Times. Retrieved November 17, 2015.