Brandon Davies And BYU's Honor Code

LAS VEGAS NV - JANUARY 05: Brandon Davies #0 of the Brigham Young University Cougars shoots against Derrick Jasper #5 of the UNLV Rebels during their game at the Thomas & Mack Center January 5 2011 in Las Vegas Nevada. BYU won 89-77. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

I was not going to write anything more about BYU's Brandon Davies suspension but after reading an article by SB Nation's Andrew Sharp -- the following comments on that piece are nearing 200 at this point with mostly good back and forth -- I felt I should broach the subject due to his lack of understanding of he honor code.

Here is what the Honor Code consists of:

Be honest
Live a chaste and virtuous life
Obey the law and all campus policies
Use clean language
Respect others
Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
Participate regularly in church services
Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code

In Andrew's piece he obviously does not get it and thinks that Davies was exploited by BYU, and that is not even close to being accurate. It is one thing to not know about what the BYU honor code entails which is normal if you did not go to the school or not of the Mormon faith, but to call it crazy, insane and hilarious is not respectable:

But for me, I just see a kid getting exploited for his mistakes. Look closer, and think about the messages this really sends. BYU claims to be all about character, but to most reasonable people, this latest news turns their commitment to character into a caricature.

By leaving no room for error or reasoned explanations, the letter of BYU's honor code just makes the spirit behind it look even more divorced from reality. It's not like Davies committed a crime, right? And when he got confronted about his mistakes, he was apparently forthcoming and remorseful.

The school is not exploiting him and the school itself never said what he did. Someone leaked the information and if it was someone within the honor code office then that is unacceptable. Also, the only reason we know about what happened is because he is an athlete. If Davies is not at practice or games people would ask questions to where he was at, and that is much different then someone who is a math or education major that would not be noticed to be missing besides people in their classes.

He also goes on to say this:

the school protects its principles, and promotes the school's honor code in the most public way possible. In that sense, it's a proud moment. But they also set a precedent for everyone else that shows no tolerance for weakness.

I don't see how it is a proud moment for BYU or a chance to promote their honor code

The message what BYU is sending is that they are sticking to their rules regardless of breaks the rules, and not exploitation that is not what the Mormon faith preaches -- nor any religion. Davies, as does every other student, sign the honor code and know what the consequences are. Yes, they are strict but people go to BYU for the type of atmosphere the school promotes. It is the same reason people go to an Ivy League school because of academics, party schools or to a school that has a good football program; that is because they want to be part of those things.

BYU could have waited to pass down the punishment to Davies until the season was over, but the people within the BYU honor code office do not care that Davies was on possibly the best BYU basketball team in nearly 20 years, as they do not care if it is any other student. The difference is that Davies is a known person on an athletic team that is highly ranked. They treat each person based on the violation they committed and not who they are.

Speaking of exploitation, then look no further to the report that revealed who the girl Davies was with which also included where she goes to college and other details. If you are interested in that you can easily find it online. Her punishment will not get her kicked out of school, but rather she will go through a process with her church leader.

Dan Shanoff who runs the website Quickish (cool site go check it out) brought forward a great point when national media talk about BYU and how it is ok to make comments that would cause people to get fired, this is not completely related to the Davis situation  but nonetheless he makes an excellent point:

When did it become OK to openly make jokes about Mormons and Mormonism? You see it constantly, especially when talking about Jimmer Fredette or BYU, and especially in light of the Brandon Davies situation.

If folks -- and I'm talking about people in the media -- made jokes in the same ballpark about Muslim or Jewish or Catholic or Evangelical people, they would be fired. And yet, it's somehow OK to do it about Mormons. I don't get that.

I'm thrilled to engage in a discussion about the ramifications for BYU basketball from Davies' booting for the rest of the season -- they are severe, and they have a MASSIVE impact on the NCAA Tournament (especially if -- ahem -- you had them winning it all). That BYU was absolutely throttled last night by New Mexico -- in Provo, no less -- makes this an even more fascinating story. But it's a basketball story, not a debate over one religion's value system versus your own.

That this story involves about sex -- sex and religion, no less -- makes it titillating and almost irresistible to chime in on in a catty way. You are free to say what you want, obviously. You are entirely entitled to your own opinion about honor codes and morality. But when it veers into ugly jokes, I just wonder if people would go there if it involved other religions.

The main point that could have summed up this article in short order comes from long time Salt Tribune columnist Gordon Monson:

BYU's honor code as a binding contract that students willfully agree to obey and then sign, committing themselves to living the strictures and conforming their behavior to those rules, end of story. They know what they're getting into, and it is left to them to govern themselves accordingly. If they don't, they pay the price - some form of discipline from the school, ranging from probation to expulsion.

The one issue that I agree with Monson in his article is that it is much tougher to live the honor code at BYU then it is for any other member of the church. For example, if someone who does not go to BYU and had pre-martial sex as Davies did they will not be kicked out of the church, but rather lose some privileges within the church. 

At BYU, male students are not to have long hair or have beards but all are acceptable within the Mormon faith in general. If there is to be any outcry by people trying to understand the honor code then that should be the place to start.

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