Old-School Honor Code

Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni House, BYU Campus

I came across an article several months ago that I just loved.  It was by a CBS Sports national columnist discussing the BYU honor code.

Old-school BYU wins with honor code and without sex,

by Gregg Doyel, April 20, 2010.

He was blown away that students in this day and age would live the rules of the school.  Here are a few excerpts from the article:

This one’s on me, because I had no idea. Brigham Young University has been around for more than 100 years, and it has been competing at the highest levels of college athletics for decades, and I simply had no idea that BYU was competing and even winning with an honor code straight out of the 16th century.

How does BYU do it? How does BYU attract enough recruits to field a competitive football team, one good enough to go 43-9 over the last four years?

The heck with a football team. How does BYU attract enough recruits to field an offensive line?

Truth is, I understand how BYU does it. The Mormon faith is enormous in Utah, and it extends around the world, to more than 13 million at last count. The BYU student body isn’t completely Mormon, but close. Roughly 98 percent of the undergrads are said to be Mormon, and that’s a huge school with an enrollment of more than 35,000. In fact, according to a story in U.S. News and World Report last month, BYU is the most popular school in the country based on one enrollment figure: More than 78 percent of the applicants accepted by BYU choose to attend the school, beating out Harvard’s 76 percent success rate.

In other words, people really, truly want to go to BYU. Tens of thousands of them. And they know ahead of time what awaits them — or rather, what doesn’t await them. No sex. No beer, even for students of legal age. No cigarettes. No cursing, either.

You’d think this sort of thing — that honor code, the story about Unga’s withdrawal from school — would hurt BYU on the recruiting trail, but it hasn’t yet and I bet it won’t now. You or I might not want to live that way, but that isn’t the point. Thousands of kids do.

I used to think an Ivy League team winning a game in the NCAA Tournament, as Cornell did this season, was one of the most amazing feats in college sports. Now I know better. Cornell does it with kids willing to attend school without a scholarship, true — but BYU does it with kids willing to not have sex.

The full article can be found here.

I love it.  I love to see the shock and awe.  I love to see people trying to live better lives.  I believe that the youth will rise up and meet the standard that is given to them when people have faith in them to do so.  It’s good for them.

I heard on the radio today that BYU is playing in the WAC (Western Athletic Conference) now, and they are working out a new schedule because the college won’t play football on Sunday.  The conference is honoring and respecting BYU’s commitment to keep the Sabbath day holy.

Way to go BYU! Keep up the good work.

I’m sure there are many that will point out flaws, exceptions, and moments where standards aren’t kept.

The exception however,  does not negate the rule.

I think that it is wonderful that there are millions of people who try to live their religion and when they fail to do so perfectly, they try, try again.

Being a good human being, is just like mastering any other skill in life – it takes practice.

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