Posted by: Ryan | February 10, 2010

BYU Honor Code: Your Educational Institution’s Stupidity in Action! (part 1 of 2)

The following is part 1 of a 2-part post regarding BYU’s Honor Code Dress and Grooming Standards for Men:

I would like to preface this blog post by addressing the very likely possibility that the hyperactive Honor Code Police get wind of this and determine that I am not “Encourag[ing] others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code,” which is, obviously, part of BYU’s Honor Code Statement.

I encourage students to abide by the Honor Code. You agreed to it upon enrollment, and you should be honorable in your fulfillment of that contract.

I do not, however, encourage students to be content with the Honor Code as it is currently constituted, particularly with regard to dress and grooming standards for male students and staff. The Honor Code did not drop from the sky; it was not written upon the tablets given to Moses on Mount Sinai; it did not even exist in its current form when your grandparents were going to school. Far be it from me to discourage obedience and honesty. But the Honor Code is NOT doctrine and should NOT be treated as such. It is a living, highly alterable document about which we, as students, should have some say.

Ironically, the bulk of my post today might actually be shorter than my above attempt at covering my bases should I be reported to the Honor Code Police by holier-than-thou types too common to our campus.

Here is the full text of the Honor Code Dress and Grooming Standards for Men:

“A clean and well-cared-for appearance should be maintained. Clothing is inappropriate when it is sleeveless, revealing, or form fitting. Shorts must be knee-length or longer. Hairstyles should be clean and neat, avoiding extreme styles or colors, and trimmed above the collar, leaving the ear uncovered. Sideburns should not extend below the earlobe or onto the cheek. If worn, moustaches should be neatly trimmed and may not extend beyond or below the corners of the mouth. Men are expected to be clean-shaven; beards are not acceptable. Earrings and other body piercing are not acceptable. Shoes should be worn in all public campus areas.”

Jesus of Nazareth: Central figure of Christianity, namesake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Savior of mankind, Son of God, &c., &c.

Brigham Young: BYU's namesake, President of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, Governor of the Utah Territory, and second president of the Mormon Church

My first point in this series of two blog posts is quite simple, and it should be obvious by the two pictures above: Both Brigham Young and Jesus of Nazareth (or as far as he is portrayed in modern worship) maintained clean and well-cared-for appearances. Their hairstyles were relatively clean and neat, avoiding extremes in styles and length. Neither of them, however, would be allowed to take classes at BYU. Their hair, as demonstrated here, is NOT trimmed above the collar and does NOT leave the ear uncovered. Their facial hair likewise DOES extend beyond the corners of the mouth. NEITHER are clean-shaven. Their beards are simply unacceptable at campus.

Because their respective hairstyles are neat and were typical of their times, the Honor Code Police would be forced to cite Brigham Young and Jesus Christ for their apparent association with “the appearance, not only of evil, but also of the emulation of undesirable contemporary characters.”*


*Taken from comments from President Wilkinson to parents and students in the Daily Universe on the 12th of November, 1968

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  1. hahaha. i definitely laughed out loud. esp with the last quote.

    but to be fair the dress code doesn’t seem THAT bad. most of those standards will probably apply to wherever you end up working. minus the beard part. tho i’m sure that’s what you’re most upset about…lol.

  2. Haha, but it seems their enforcement is increasingly weaker regarding facial hair (you never shave and get away with it!)

    Also, they really shouldn’t ban beards without banning the mustache:

    BYU Honor Code: “If worn, a mustache should be neatly trimmed and may not extend beyond or below the corners of the mouth.”

    Definition of Molestache (from Urban Dictionary): the unfashionable mustache that rapists, pedophiles and dictators wear.

    You should include in installment 2 the story about how my roommate was put on honor code probation for making a prank phone call.

  3. phaha. that was great. I personally say we ban the mustache and allow beards, but I’m just sayin.

    • I totally second that. The only people that look good with mustaches are chubby guys like President Taft. I say, as long as it’s well groomed beard, go for it. If I ever become prophet, I’ll re-institute beards. Or at least goatees.

  4. I found this quote when looking up comments on BYU’s dress code for one my blogs last semester.

    “If your dress causes feelings of inadequacy in others, then you know you are being immodest. It is not Christian conduct to make other people feel bad because they were not blessed with your physical bounties”

    I am sure you don’t want your ability to grow a beard to make those who are incapable of doing so to feel inadequate.


    On a total serious note: I do think the dress code is a little ridiculous.

  5. you have a great point here. i think it’s also important to remember this essential principle. when we shave everyday, we waste money on razors and cream. if the honor code decides to allow facial hair (other than mustache), thousands of dollars will be saved, more dates will happen, and all male students will be able to pay their bills on time.

  6. I love a lot of these comments. Especially the inadequacy and razor comments.
    You have definitely brought up some good points and makes the honor code sound kind of ridiculous. Although, I don’t think it’s fair to apply that last quote to both Christ and Brigham Young. People say dumb things but I’m pretty sure they would never say it about Christ. Have you thought about the change in social trends over time, what is acceptable and the implications of different dress and grooming standards? In the time of Christ beards were a part of the religion as a Nazarene. In the time of Brigham Young it was a symbol of status. Look at all of the apostles and prophets in the last twenty years and all of them are clean shaven.

    • you are absolutely right, and are hitting on the crux of my argument (which i implied, but perhaps should have stated explicitly). beards are not and cannot be considered a pernicious evil. times change, and so do the trends and fashions that shape our clothing and grooming standards. the grooming policy was established in a time in our nation where the anti-establishment counter-culture movement flouted its disdain for social norms by growing unkempt hair and beards. president wilkinson specifically mentioned these in his letter, asking students to refrain from emulating the beatniks and beatles of their day. my point is that 1968 is far enough removed from 2010 that BYU should consider the possibility that (teaser for this week’s blog post!) well-kept and maintained beards/facial hair are not only increasingly in vogue, but that, currently, mustaches are much more representative of evils in society than beards.

      as a side note: “Nazarene” referred, at the time, to people who were from Nazareth. there was no “Nazarene” religion, and it certainly had no relationship to his wearing a beard.

  7. Very true argument. I’m going to be honest. Very few men can pull off the mustache. I’d have to agree with some of the previous statements, get rid of the mustache, bring on the “neatly trimmed” beards!

  8. Joke of the day: A 16 year old boy wanting his father to buy him a car approaches his father to tell him his idea. The father says, ” I tell you what. I’ll give you three months to get better grades, attend all 3 meetings of church, and cut your hair and shave your face.” After 3 months the boy approached his father and said, ” it has been 3 months. I have raised my grades from mostly C’s to B’s and I have been doing all of my homework, I have been going to all of my church meetings and have been going to early morning seminary and Wednesday mutual activities. I think i deserve to get a car now.” The dad looked at his son and said, ” you forgot to cut your hair and shave your face.” The boy smiled and said, ” Father, Moses had a beard, John the Baptist had a beard, and our Savior Jesus Christ had a beard. I’m going to look to them as my examples and I am not going to cut my hair of shave my face.” Without wasting anytime, the father said, ” Son, you are right. Moses did have a beard. John the Baptist had a beard too. And Christ had a beard. And those three men walked everywhere they went, just like you will be doing. Son you have chosen some great examples to follow, I commend you!”

  9. I like the honor code. I think a lot of beards are ugly. My “bros” at other schools have the nastiest looking beards ever. Patchy, too long, gangly, etc. Some look like they’re made up more of armpit or groin hair than hair that belongs on the head. A beard of this nature has no real place in the world. So, at BYU. you could say beards are OK as long as they’re well groomed, but that’s pretty objective. You may end up with a well groomed, patchy, armpit beard. So, I’m in favor of no beards if the alternative includes ugly ones.

  10. your fans want more!!!! i want to hear about part 2!

  11. “The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism… the haircut becomes the test of …virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances.” -Hugh Nibley (his response to a question regarding BYU’s honor code.)

  12. Jesus didn’t wear shoes either!

  13. Mormons derp de derp

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