First, let me admit up front that, though I graduated from BYU, I do not follow their sports teams. I don’t follow any sports teams. But apparently? The Cougars have been doing us all proud this basketball season and were ranked something like #2 in the nation.
Some were expecting them to go all the way this season.
Unfortunately, one of their best players apparently did go all the way, with his girlfriend, and now he is suspended from the team. And they lost their first game without him.
Umm . . . Go Cougars!
Even though I don’t follow sports, I haven’t been able to escape this story. Someone talked about it at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor I attended on Friday night (incidentally, the newly pinned Eagle gave McH a mentor pin, said he, McH, was one of a dynamic duo of youth leaders (McH asked if he could be Batman), and then concluded by saying, “And he could probably snap my neck”), and somebody brought it (back to the basketball story here) up in our church service today. I have also read a couple of articles about in online.
And I must say, I am very saddened by the reaction of so many people. So many people are leaving hateful (and in some cases completely ignorant) comments on these articles about BYU and its policies. So, as a BYU grad, I thought I’d just throw in my two cents and a bit of an explanation here.
The young man who has been suspended from the team (he has not been kicked out of school, though he could be), is not the innocent victim of a tyrannical school. When one applies to go to BYU the honor code is very clearly stated and explained, and signing that honor code is part of the application process (as I recall – it’s been a few years now since I did it). At any rate, no one gets in to BYU without full knowledge of the Honor Code, and without having voluntarily consented to follow it.
And while so many people think it is beyond ridiculous to expect college students to abstain from alcohol, drugs, and pre or extra-marital sex, I’m telling you it isn’t. It can be done. Easily. I know this because I did it (I still do it) (but now that I’m married I get to, well, you know), and because thousands of other students do it every year. Also? By the time one gets to BYU? This is old hat stuff.
This is the way we are taught to live our lives from the time we are very young. Of course there are those who make mistakes, who slip up, some who even just say, “Forget it, I’m going to live the way the rest of the world does,” but by the time someone is knocking on BYU’s door they know how they are supposed to be living. It’s not like the university is suddenly asking something new and shocking of its students. Like I said, by the time one signs the honor code, it’s pretty old hat stuff. And if somebody wants a new hat? They can go to a different school. There is no shortage of BYU applicants who get turned away and would LOVE to have someone else’s spot on campus.
If people don’t want to sign the honor code, fine. Seriously. That’s fine. I wouldn’t judge them and say they are awful people. I would, however, say that BYU is not the place for them. Because it isn’t.
But when someone does sign the honor code and then screws up (rather literally in this case, I suppose)? Is the school just supposed to roll over and play dead? Ignore it and pretend it’s ok? If that is what they do, then what is the point of having an honor code to begin with? Should the school have swept it under the rug because, in this case, the NCAA championship could be on the line? Seriously? Isn’t that what’s wrong with so many of our athletes and other celebrities anyway? All the special treatment they get and lack of accountability they experience? I believe we usually call this SPOILED.
No, the school did the right thing. The coach has even been quoted as saying he expects the young man in question to return to the program at some point. There is repentance and forgiveness. But first? There is accountability.
I really don’t care if people think BYU’s honor code is archaic or not. The fact of the matter is, if you sign a code of conduct, I don’t care if it states you will stand on your head for 27 minutes every Thursday night and draw purple polka dots on your face with permanent marker prior to all exams*, if you sign that code of conduct, then you abide by it. And if you mess up? You accept the consequences.
From what I can tell, the young man is accepting his consequences. I don’t understand why so much of the rest of the nation is having such a problem with it.
Thank goodness there are some institutions left that value honor above athletics, integrity above good press, and adherence to moral standards above capitulation to moral relativism.
*For the record, Tewt the Newt would like to clarify that the BYU honor code does not require one to stand on his or her head for 27 minutes every Thursday night, nor does it mandate the drawing of purple polka dots on one’s face prior to all exams. If you are interested in what the BYU honor code does require, read this.