The Honor Code is useless. It is archaic and completely unrelated to the obtaining of a degree of any kind. If you look the Honor Code statement up on BYU’s website, you have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and then click on a link to a new page to find anything related to academics. In fact, this entire paragraph is actually against the Honor Code altogether, as one must “encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code.”
However, despite my personal disdain for BYU’s Honor Code, I still understand — and, in fact, appreciate — what happened to leading rebounder and part-of-the-reason-why-BYU-lost-to-New-Mexico-at-home, Brandon Davies.
In the next few days you will hear the classic arguments for and against the Honor Code. You’ve already heard some on this very site. If you live (or have lived) around Provo, you are intimately familiar with these arguments:
“The honor code was written up to battle counter-culture in the 60’s and 70’s and is outdated.”
“Every student knows what the rules are before they come here.”
“Following the Honor Code is a small price to pay for the enormously cheap tuition you pay.”
For those of us going to or graduated from BYU, we have all parroted some form of these statements, as I did in the first sentence of this article. I am a recent BYU graduate, and I had my fair share of run-ins with Big Brother the Honor Code Office.
During my sophomore year, my roommate and I had girls staying in our apartment past midnight (a violation) and another roommate told a church leader. To minimize the damage to my academic pursuits, I “turned myself in” to the Honor Code Office to avoid being turned in by other means. I was eventually put on what they called “suspension withheld,” meaning if I sneezed wrong I could have been suspended from college — for watching Anchorman at 12:37 a.m. in my own apartment, sober, with friends.
One of my very first thoughts after this whole ordeal that didn’t have to do with my anger towards the Honor Code was, “They better hold everyone to the same standard I was held against.” I had heard rumors of athletes and other iconic BYU students being given a slap on the wrist for more than post-curfew movie watching. My favorite (unsubstantiated) rumor is one of former BYU quarterback Jim McMahon being on campus, drunk, holding a beer in his hand and stammering around like a zombie. LaVell Edwards was notified of this and (allegedly) found McMahon, threw his beer away, took him home and never went to the university about it.
Like I said, this story is unsubstantiated and nothing more than rumor. But whether it’s true or not, come on — the image of Jim McMahon stumbling around the Smith Fieldhouse is pretty funny and believable. And when it comes to actual, non-gossip reality, I have personally seen prominent BYU athletes (who will remain nameless) breaking the Honor Code, but didn’t do anything about it because, honestly, it’s none of my damn business, even if they are reneging on their word. I’m not perfect either.
This is why I respect what BYU did. They placed their principles over making money and notoriety when it comes to collegiate athletics. It is certainly fair to complain about the Honor Code itself and how dated it is, but you can’t grumble about how Davies was punished. To BYU, Brandon Davies wasn’t held in a higher regard because he puts a leather ball through an orange hoop. He signed the exact same document every other current and former student has signed. He was held to the same standards as his 30,000-plus fellow students, and he wasn’t allowed to escape punishment because of the 11.1 points he scored and the 6.2 rebounds he grabbed for the Cougars every game.
BYU, and every BYU basketball fan (including myself), have already felt the pain of Davies’s absence after last night’s loss to New Mexico. But for BYU to have doled out anything less than a season suspension would have been hypocritical and completely contradictory to the school’s vaunted principles, and we should all (silently) applaud the university for sticking to its guns in the face of extreme scrutiny.
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