“Loyal, strong, and true, wear the white and blue”

I’m sure many of you sports fans have heard about BYU’s suspension of Brandon Davies. I just did a google news search and turned up over one hundred articles with dozens of different viewponts (no I didn’t read them all). Many writers praise BYU for enforcing its honor code in an age when others turn blind eyes on more serious infractions by top athletes. However, some of the articles hint or outright claim that the actual code itself is absurd. This week all the MoPers (nobody commented on my proposed nickname, so I’m going to go ahead and use it) are going to be addressing the topic.

I’m a fourth generation BYU Cougar and quite proud of it. My parents instilled a deep love of the true blue in me at a young age and I’m doing my best to keep the family tradition alive by showering my nieces with BYU apparel.  As a BYU grad, I wanted to talk a little bit about my experiences with, and gratitude for, our seemingly crazy honor code. I admit there were parts of the code that I wasn’t super excited about while I was attending BYU–like knee-length shorts (can we say unflattering on the majority of females) and visitation hours (um, sometimes you want to hang out in mixed company past midnight). That said, I also knew that the code was there for a reason and I mostly followed it–even when it was really hot out or when I wanted to stay past midnight to finish a movie. My experience wasn’t unique. The vast majority of the students I knew did the same not only because we’d signed an agreement saying that we would, but also because we believe in the principles behind the code: “being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous. . . ” (13th Article of Faith)  and standing “as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9).

My own personal experience living the honor code taught me a lot and helped me become a better person. First, I learned the benefit of following rules because I’d committed to them and not because somebody was around to enforce them. My parents weren’t there to make sure I went to church, didn’t let boys in my bedroom, or to kick my friends out when it got too late. It was all up to me.  Second, by following the code I found safety in the rules–even the onerous ones. The honor code is designed to keep you far away from any edge or slippery slope. At BYU I simply had to say “no, it’s against the honor code.” I didn’t have to worry about keeping a date from pressuring me to go farther than I wanted or turning down alcohol without offending the offeror. Finally, occasionally failing to keep the code and seeing some of my friends falter as well taught me so much about repentance and forgiveness. From what I’ve seen in my friends’ experiences, the honor code office isn’t out to get you, rather it’s there to help you become a better person and as long as you’re willing to work with them, they’ll try their hardest to work with you.

I feel sorry for Brandon Davies. It’s awful that his personal issues have become front page news and discussed ad naseum by Cougar fans worldwide. I also really admire him for coming forward when keeping silent would have been so much easier. I hope he knows that he’s got a lot of people rooting for right now, both on his team, at the school, and around the globe. I also must say, along with Vai Sikahema that I’m proud to be a Cougar. The school could have just as easily have kept things quiet until after the tournament but instead chose “honor” and “virtue” over the best chance we’ve ever had at making it to the final four. It may seem irrational or completely ridiculous to most people, but to me it says everything about what being a Cougar is all about.

About Mostly A Martha

After an idyllic childhood in a smallish Utah town, 4 years at BYU and an LDS mission to Italy, Martha relocated to the East Coast where she's been for the past 4 years. Martha is a lifelong Mormon but a convert to the left end of the political spectrum. Her favorite things include chick lit, chocolate, and finding new restaurants.
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4 Responses to “Loyal, strong, and true, wear the white and blue”

  1. Natalie says:

    MaM — I completely agree with your sentiments here. Additionally, I agree that it’s not *what* the code contains, but the fact that all parties commit to living by it. I’m a huge basketball fan and also a BYU alum so I have likewise written up my thoughts here: http://www.thedigitalmountains.com/2011/03/06/byu-honor-code-basketball-fan/

  2. Brigham says:

    When I read a lot of the stories you referred to it seems to me, at least in this particular instance it really doesn’t matter whether the honor code at BYU is stupid or not. The point is that students there commit to following it and accept that there are ramifications when it’s broken. I’m also proud to be a BYU grad right now, even though I’m disappointed that the bball team’s chances are certainly affected. At BYU at least integrity is more important than expediency, and that is exceedingly rare these days!

  3. Barbara says:

    Go BYU!!! Thanks for this post.

  4. Pingback: Freedom in the Rules | Mormon Perspectives

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