"There Are About 3,500-5,000 Students Righthanding To Porn": BYU People Respond To Our Honor-Code Story

Last week, an anonymous BYU grad offered his take on the Brandon Davies situation. (Davies was suspended from the BYU basketball team for having consensual sex with his girlfriend.) Our source described Davies's suspension as hypocritical and a preemptive public relations strike. Our readers had a few thoughts of their own.

Everything sic:

Four Nicator:

First off, I can't call myself a BYU grad because I didn't get to finish: I was kicked out. Nonetheless I don't hold a grudge against BYU or the Church, but I don't like the school at all.

I attended BYU between 1997 and 2004 with a 2 year break for a mission. I was put on probation first because my roommate ratted me out for having a girl in my room (I let my buddy and his girlfriend talk through a fight, nothing immoral happened). He reported me to my landlord, off-campus housing office, Church Bishop, and the Honor Code Office. I ended up getting suspended for telling him I'll kick his teeth in (apparently a life threat) and for having the Maxim swimsuit edition in my apartment, in addition to the girl in the bedroom.

The second time my bishop refused to renew my ecclesiastical endorsement because of me not attending Church and because of the stuff I had told him I did. He deemed me unworthy to attend school. I tried to work my way back and the Honor Code Office denied me until I would get his approval, which I never did.

Most people that I know confessed to a Bishop were OK with still going to BYU as long as they "repented." However, I did know some people who couldn't get their ecclesiastical endorsement renewed because they weren't worthy to attend BYU (I know 3-4 other people besides myself, one being a gay friend).

The other Anon is right, you usually don't end up in the Honor Code Office unless you are told on, however that happens way too often. I was part of their computer support team and they were always busy, there were always people in there, they have at least 5-6 counselors. Most of the time, there was is no lengthy investigation, unless the student gets dismissed from the university. My first probation was handed to me immediately during my interview: the punishment was that I had to meet with my bishop and he was to report on my progress. Then before the next semester, I would go back into the Honor Code Office and if everything was satisfactory, my probation would be lifted (and it was).

My counselor was a big time dick; in the letter he wrote to my bishop he said I had a pornography problem (the Maxim magazine) and I also had an aggression issue.

The Anon is right, BYU places the Church and its standards above anything else, even athletics. In my opinion, Davies isn't used as a tool, he's just being treated the same as everyone else.

Everyone knows what the Honor Code is, it's posted everywhere, everyone knows all the rules. Everyone talks about it, everyone cracks jokes about it. Everyone knows where their office is; I haven't been there in years and I still know it's in the Wilkinson Center on the 4th floor - their info is posted everywhere. They even have a website where the investigative process is listed and detailed.

There are no investigators, just counselors. They interview you, gather the info and if a severe punishment is to be handed down, such as a suspension or worse, the decision is not made until all the counselors meet and vote on the issue. That decision is usually made within a week.

I haven't read a news release or a statement from a BYU official or coach saying the reason he got dismissed for. I think one of his teammates, friends, or roommates leaked the info to the press. But the Honor Code issues are being treated with very strict privacy and confidentiality. So for this guy to say that it's BYU's fault is a bit ridiculous. Lots of people break the Honor Code and they get punished for it, there is no double standard. Most people break the small rules in the code, such as members of the opposite sex staying over too late, some heavy petting and fondling. However, if you lived in the dorms and you got busted sneaking in or doing something against the code, most RAs would report you to the Honor Code. I knew a ton of people who did it and got away with it, but I also knew a ton who got caught and got referred to the Honor Code Office. The latter were looked down on, as if they were criminals.

The guy has a couple good facts, but most of his speculation is dead wrong. It's almost as if he went to BYU only for his freshman year and then flunked and went to the lesser college in town, Utah Valley. Let me know if you need more info about anything I wrote (If you need to call me I can give you my number as well). I did party with some of the athletes when I was there and they partied and got in just as much trouble as I or other students did. There was no double standard at BYU. I guess that's what I still respect there, they do what they say and they don't fuck around. We all know what we signed up for and what the consequences are. It's not a matter of status or race. People need to understand that just because they don't see it the same way, BYU won't change their policies.

Rah rah rah rah rah, goooo Cougars.

Jason S.:

Having spent six years at BYU (I am an MBA student here now), I vehemently disagree with this man. There are elements of truth in his viewpoint, but his premise is completely false. This is absolutely not the kind of press the leadership of BYU wants, and definitely not what the Church wants. Hanging people out to dry is not their style.

It is true that the Honor Code per se is not talked about every day, because it really isn't that different from the commandments that the general church population observe, so it's not necessary to talk about it. There are a few extra rules, but it isn't anything out of the ordinary. Still, your bishop reviews it with you every year because you have to reaffirm your commitment to stay in school.

In my time at BYU, 95% of the students observe the Honor Code to the letter. Again, if you obey church principles it really isn't that different. I have family that have run in similar circles to Anonymous, and everyone in those circles believes that everyone on campus is doing just what they are doing. That is not true. That is called rationalization, trying to justify your own violations. I never saw drugs or alcohol in six years. I knew of some chastity issues, but they weren't nearly as rampant as Anonymous would have you believe.

There is a common belief (well-deserved, probably) that the Honor Code Office is heavy-handed. That is why most bishops do not refer people to the HC Office. The Davies situation has not been treated any different than any other student. Every individual I know that has faced the Honor Code Office has received a decision within 24 hours. What people have to realize is that he is STILL IN SCHOOL. He will have to write essays and so forth while he is on probation and meet with his bishop, just like other students. One of the conditions of probation is that you cannot represent the university officially, like athletes do. When his probation is over.

I wish the situation had been treated differently. I don't believe athletes should be treated preferentially, but someone should have realized that with BYU ranked #3 and on the verge of a number 1 seed in the NCAA tourney for the first time ever, this would be national news and that he would pay a very heavy price. I feel sorry for the kid. He's done everything right. By all accounts he has owned up to it. He doesn't deserve to be on the front page of every website in America.

Anonymous chose to remain so because he knew he would hear crap from everyone about his stance. Again, there are elements of truth, but to think BYU or the Church want this publicity more than whatever publicity would come from a Final Four run is insane. It is inflammatory. Unfortunately, I think that was his intent.

S.:

The top story you have about hypocrisy at BYU on this honor code story paints an extremely distorted picture of life at BYU. I'm not sure why the former student who wrote it refused to sign his name to it. Should that not have been an indication that it may not be the most reliable information?

The vast majority of students at BYU live the honor code. There are certainly some who don't. But the number who are out getting drunk and having sex is in approximately the 10-15% range at most.

Students at BYU do not get expelled for having sex once. It's that way for regular students and for athletes. Davies was not suspended for doing that. Such a problem would be handled privately and would only escalate if there was repeated behavior without any intention of trying to live by the code. There's some truth to the idea that back in the 1980s they would turn more of a blind eye to athletes, but that's not the way it is at all anymore. Davies is only suspended because a girl is pregnant, and that's what would have happened if he was a 5'7" business major as well.

V.:

Finally, someone speaks the truth about BYU. I was there as a student and as an employee. It is an institution that punishes the honest and rewards those who lie. Just don't get caught, just don't confess and you will be fine. If you carefully read the Honor Code, you will see that most everyone breaks it in some form. Opposite sex members are not supposed to be in your bedroom nor in your apartment after midnight, etc. This is constantly broken. PornograFFy is a major problem. It is estimated that 10-30 percent of male members at BYU have a severe problem with pornograFFy. 90% of this is associated with using their hand. This is a sexual sin and the LDS faith considers it the sin next to murder. I will hypothesize and which is now true, that Brandon had a sexual encounter with a woman and got caught. So since there are about 3500-5000 students who are righthanding to porn, but poor Brandon, who can get his own real action, is publicly humiliated and shamed. His life will never be the same. I genuinely feel bad for him and how people defend the hypocrisy of the Honor Code. Oh yeah, for you who want to jump down my facts about the BYU student porn problem, just go to...this...BYU website.

One of the most notable proscriptions in the honor code is the ban on facial hair. Students who want whiskers must apply for a beard exception for medical reasons, according to the BYU website:

A student who wishes to obtain a beard exception must visit a BYU Student Health Center doctor by appointment (422.5156). The doctor will fax his recommendation. The student then needs to come to the Honor Code Office to fill out some paperwork and receive the letter allowing the growth of the beard, if approved. If a yearly beard exception is granted, a new Student ID will be issued after the beard has been fully grown, and must be renewed every year by repeating the process.

A photo of Brigham Young, just for the hell of it:

"There Are About 3,500-5,000 Students Righthanding To Porn": BYU People Respond To Our Honor-Code Story