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BYU Honor Code changes

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https://www.ksl.com/article/46552236/byu-announces-changes-to-honor-code-office-following-student-criticism

This could be a harbinger for other changes to come.  

Now students will apparently know who reported them-which is only fair, you should have the right to confront your accuser.  

Edited by MormonGator

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From the other thread:

On 4/14/2019 at 7:15 PM, mordorbund said:

The coverage baffles me. On its face the protest is about amending the honor code. But the people KSL found as representative are LGBT advocates. Are they really the representatives of this movement? Or could KSL not find the real leaders to comment? Or is KSL selecting for their own narrative reasons? I read the petition and the closest to LGB-friendly wording is that the revised honor code would prohibit "premarital sex" without specifying more details - perhaps leaving the door open for only the narrowest interpretation. But without specifying more details it could be left open to maintaining the status quo in this regard. So what's the connection here? Spell it out for me KSL!

 

Thanks KSL for circling back and answering my question. From this new article:

Quote

A group known as Return Honor organized the protest after seeing the Instagram account and petition renew interest in the Honor Code Office. Keaton Hill, one of the group's founders, told KSL in April that the group wanted to see changes to the way the Honor Code is enforced, as well as changes to language the group believes is discriminatory to LGBT students.

I see now. This group is piggy-backing on the change.org petition (which I commented on in the other thread) to push for their own agenda. Except, they haven't really laid out an agenda yet. From the previous article:

Quote

The group did not specify which language they saw as discriminatory, or what they would have wanted changed.

As far as I'm concerned Return Honor is a non-story and a non-source. Until they know what they want they shouldn't be cited in another article.

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11 hours ago, MormonGator said:

https://www.ksl.com/article/46552236/byu-announces-changes-to-honor-code-office-following-student-criticism

This could be a harbinger for other changes to come.  

Now students will apparently know who reported them-which is only fair, you should have the right to confront your accuser.  

I like these changes. If you are accused of violating the Honor Code, you should absolutely be told why you are being called in, who reported you, and what resources are available to you in order to potentially defend yourself. I thnk this was a useful and neccessary change. 

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1 hour ago, Midwest LDS said:

I like these changes. If you are accused of violating the Honor Code, you should absolutely be told why you are being called in, who reported you, and what resources are available to you in order to potentially defend yourself. I thnk this was a useful and neccessary change. 

Couldn't agree more.


What else is interesting to me is how the students forced the school to change it. Like I've mentioned before, it seems like BYU is changing. 

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56 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

Couldn't agree more.


What else is interesting to me is how the students forced the school to change it. Like I've mentioned before, it seems like BYU is changing. 

Fair point. It is a good idea, so I don't know if forced is correct. Maybe more that they pointed out a serious issue and the administration agreed with them, but I think you have a good point.

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I'm honestly surprised that the accused was not allowed to know the accuser before this announcement.  Is there any evidence that this was forbidden before?  I'm honestly asking.  I don't know.

I've noticed that sometimes, these "changes" are really only publicly acknowledging a policy already in place that no one actually took advantage of. In this case, a removal of a purported prohibition that never was is great PR.

Edited by Mores

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6 minutes ago, Mores said:

I'm honestly surprised that the accused was not allowed to know the accuser before this announcement.  Is there any evidence that this was forbidden before?  I'm honestly asking.  I don't know.

Yes.  The issue was raised twenty years ago when I was a student there (be sure to read the commentary at the end of the column), and smoothed over (as I recall) with a series of puff pieces masquerading as an investigative report in BYU’s student paper that basically cited a bunch of students saying how grateful they were that the HCO existed.  

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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12 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Yes.  The issue was raised twenty years ago when I was a student there (be sure to read the commentary at the end of the column)

Is this supposed to be a serious article?  It sounded like someone simply blowing smoke over a purported offense.  It even says that there were supposed to be testimonials with student names about it, but somehow -- through laziness -- they never materialized.  He also said it was NOT official policy. But some people seem to do it anyway.  (who?)

Tell me you were either joking about this piece or there was more to the story that was not in that article or accompanying commentary.

Edited by Mores

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29 minutes ago, Mores said:

Is this supposed to be a serious article?  It sounded like someone simply blowing smoke over a purported offense.  It even says that there were supposed to be testimonials with student names about it, but somehow -- through laziness -- they never materialized.  He also said it was NOT official policy. But some people seem to do it anyway.  (who?)

Tell me you were either joking about this piece or there was more to the story that was not in that article or accompanying commentary.

No, the article is a humor column.  As you’ll know from having read it, though; Snider felt that a humor column was an appropriate way of broaching legitimate issues.  Snider asserts he had acquaintances who were subjected to this sort of inquisitorial routine.  So did I.  A couple years later a BYUSA election was nullified after it came out that one of the candidates had been the subject of anonymous HCO accusations, probably originating from a rival campaign.  A then-friend of mine, a BYUSA advisor named Todd Hendricks, wrote a letter to a local paper protesting the practice.  He was promptly fired (https://www.heraldextra.com/news/letter-leaves-byusa-adviser-jobless/article_ad4a3ca2-d518-5cb8-8dc2-6b178fd16bdc.html), but was told BYU would cover his health insurance for the next few months as part of his severance (his wife was then pregnant) IF he said nothing further about the matter to any media outlets.  He declined their offer, and they left him and his wife to fend for themselves.  (https://universe.byu.edu/2006/03/24/byusa-employee-terminated/). I understand the folks who oversaw this shabby process remain in the employ of BYU.  So as you might imagine, while I love the Honor Code in principle and have a degree of contempt for those who go to BYU with no intent to keep it; I have little inclination to vouch for the personal integrity of the administrative goons at BYUSA and BYUHCO.  

Re-reading your earlier post more closely I see you were asking about whether naming the accuser was previously formally forbidden—i.e., whether there was an explicit policy against it—and in that respect, it sounds like the answer is probably “no”.  But if the question was whether the HCO actually worked that way as some sort of unwritten order of things—the answer seems to be that, on a relatively routine basis, they did.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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16 hours ago, MormonGator said:

Now students will apparently know who reported them-which is only fair, you should have the right to confront your accuser.  

Important distinction: We don't know this sort of thing didn't happen before, we just know it wasn't formally enshrined in a policy before. 

Policies spring from two sources: Proactive ("it's a good idea, we need to make sure we do that every time"), and reactive ("Oh - we should have been doing this all the time, and now we're taking heat for those times we didn't - better make it policy").  Reactive can also be "Oh crap my job is on the line, I look like an idiot, better put out a policy before I get fired.  I hate those complainers and wish they would die in a fire.".   We usually don't know what's behind a policy.  It's charitable to think of the BYU honor code office as trying to do what's best for everybody, and falling into the first reactive example. 

 

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33 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

Important distinction: We don't know this sort of thing didn't happen before, we just know it wasn't formally enshrined in a policy before. 

Very true. But since they announced a change to the policy, it leads me to believe that they didn't behave in that way before. Or else announcing the change would be worthless. The LDS church doesn't need to release a statement saying "We'd like to announce a change. We now believe that Russell Nelson is a prophet." But I do see where you are coming from, no doubt. 

 

36 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

It's charitable to think of the BYU honor code office as trying to do what's best for everybody, and falling into the first reactive example. 

Agree.

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I don't know the full history -- nor can I say exactly how policies were implemented or enforced. archive.org had a Jan. 2018 copy of the Honor Code investigation and administrative review process document that claims that " The person submitting a report is asked to identify himself or herself and to provide information regarding the alleged violation that will assist the university in its investigation. Although the Honor Code Office (HCO) generally does not investigate reports given by anyone unwilling to identify himself or herself, the HCO reserves the right, in its discretion, to proceed with an investigation based on a anonymous report. "

A policy like this -- completely left up to the HCO's discretion whether to investigate anonymous reports -- leaves plenty of room for investigating anonymous reports with no sense of how the HCO will use its discretion. Utt's letter suggests that going forward -- assuming the official policy is worded and implemented the same way Utt describes it -- anonymous reports will only be investigated if there is a threat (how will the threat be determined?) to the safety of the person reporting.

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1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Snider asserts he had acquaintances who were subjected to this sort of inquisitorial routine.  So did I.  A couple years later a BYUSA election was nullified after it came out that one of the candidates had been the subject of anonymous HCO accusations, probably originating from a rival campaign.  A then-friend of mine, a BYUSA advisor named Todd Hendricks, wrote a letter to a local paper protesting the practice.  He was promptly fired (https://www.heraldextra.com/news/letter-leaves-byusa-adviser-jobless/article_ad4a3ca2-d518-5cb8-8dc2-6b178fd16bdc.html), but was told BYU would cover his health insurance for the next few months as part of his severance (his wife was then pregnant) IF he said nothing further about the matter to any media outlets.  He declined their offer, and they left him and his wife to fend for themselves.  (https://universe.byu.edu/2006/03/24/byusa-employee-terminated/). I understand the folks who oversaw this shabby process remain in the employ of BYU.  So as you might imagine, while I love the Honor Code in principle and have a degree of contempt for those who go to BYU with no intent to keep it; I have little inclination to vouch for the personal integrity of the administrative goons at BYUSA and BYUHCO.  

The only experience I had with the HCO was when an investigator came to our apartment asking about our roommate.  He was apparently accused of several related violations.  Both I and my roommate and a third friend who was not a roommate were all completely befuddled.  We asked several times if they had the right name and address.  We were assured that they did.

After we pointed out some obvious misunderstandings about some of the accusations, the investigator apparently relaxed a little bit.  With explanations in hand, she asked about the final accusation.  We all looked at each other and shrugged.  We really had no idea where these accusations were coming from.  We never asked who the accuser was, so we never knew.  But I thought it was weird that anyone could accuse him of some of these things.

Since his roommates were obviously vouching for him with very reasonable arguments (all the while utterly bewildered that these accusations could even be leveled at him) they dropped the matter.  Neither he nor we ever heard from them again.

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How strict is the honor code? Do people like to play enforcer and seek out those who violate it? Is BYU like North Korea where there are spies who go out of their way hoping to bust people? 


My first college (it was small & Catholic) had some rules for the resident students. You couldn't have a member of  the opposite sex on your floor after a certain time was the big one. It happened a lot and it wasn't really enforced, and I don't know anyone who would run and tattle to the resident advisors. 

Edited by MormonGator

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26 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

How strict is the honor code? Do people like to play enforcer and seek out those who violate it? Is BYU like North Korea where there are spies who go out of their way hoping to bust people? 


My first college (it was small & Catholic) had some rules for the resident students. You couldn't have a member of  the opposite sex on your floor after a certain time was the big one. It happened a lot and it wasn't really enforced, and I don't know anyone who would run and tattle to the resident advisors. 

That wasn’t my experience, MG.  For me there wasn’t really an element of fear, because I knew I was being a good boy and I was less concerned about notions like “procedural due process” than I am now.  And I didn’t see people going about looking for breaches. 

Although—and I never thought much about this at the time—but when Just_A_Girl and I were dating, we would often talk in her apartment until midnight (at which time I, being a male, had to leave the apartment); and then we’d move into the hallway outside the apartment and talk for another hour or two.  I remember one night, sitting in the hallway chatting, and around 12:30 the door of the apartment across the hall opened just a crack and swiftly shut again.  This happened again and again, probably, every five or ten minutes for the next hour.  At length the door opened completely, and the female resident emerged and asked if we were “hall monitors”.  We, of course, denied this (I had never heard of such a thing at BYU).  Eventually we managed to convince this young lady that Just_A_Girl was simply a neighbor talking to her boyfriend; whereupon the door opened a bit wider and a young man sheepishly exited the apartment and beat a hasty retreat.

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@Just_A_Guy-the rules have changed since you went there. The 1920's were a different era. (Playing!) 

For the record, I'm not saying the things I described do happen there. I would find it very odd if college students played tattletale like Cindy Brady did. But you never know. 

Edited by MormonGator

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55 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

How strict is the honor code? Do people like to play enforcer and seek out those who violate it? Is BYU like North Korea where there are spies who go out of their way hoping to bust people? 

Yes, I was one of those spies.  I'd specifically hide out in the bedrooms of known sluts so I could catch them in the act -- strictly so I could report them of course. :) (KIDDING!!!) 

I suppose in any large group (of, say 30,000+ students) there are always going to be some busy bodies.  But that was a rarity in my experience.  So, much so that I'm going to make a total guess that the instances of SWATing via HCO would be as common or more than real accusations.  And even those would be very rare.  (and this is also a guess based solely on my own experience).

If I'm right (and I'll reiterate that it was a complete and total guess made up spontaneously) I'm sure glad they made these changes.

Edited by Mores

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4 minutes ago, MormonGator said:


For the record, I'm not saying the things I described do happen there. I would find it very odd if college students played tattletale like Cindy Brady did. But you never know. 

Oh, law students are very fond of that sort of thing.  I went to U of U Law, which was bad enough; but I imagine BYU Law would have been a nightmare I’m that respect.

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49 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

How strict is the honor code? Do people like to play enforcer and seek out those who violate it? Is BYU like North Korea where there are spies who go out of their way hoping to bust people?

The short answers are: Strict, no, and no way.

The longer answers:

Honor code: The honor code basically says that you will live your life as a faithful Latter-day Saint while you attend BYU (including during vacation breaks). This means no extramarital sex of any sort, no Word of Wisdom violations, being honest in your dealings with others, using clean language, and basically acting like a decent human being.

In addition, the honor code also includes some dress and grooming standards that are vaguely reminiscent of missionary-type rules: Men are to keep their hair cut reasonably short and are not to grow out facial hair, except they are allowed a trimmed moustache. Men and women are expected to dress decently (i.e. not in rags or revealing, immodest clothing) and to avoid extreme styles in clothing, haircut, piercings, etc.

My understanding is that more than half of "honor code violations" consist of supposed violations in the dress and grooming standards. So men with heavy beards who skipped shaving for a couple of days might get flagged. Note that I, personally, never had anything to do with the honor code office and never saw any action taken against people. Obviously, such things happened, but not that I witnessed.

Enforcers: I am sure such people exist. I didn't know any, or if I did know any, I didn't know they were that type. Most people at BYU who care enough about a standards violation to do something about it would rather ask the person if they can help than call the honor code office. In a population consisting largely of unmarried people in their early 20s, sexual transgressions are obviously not an uncommon thing (though the large majority of BYU students strictly observe the law of chastity). Here again, my observation is that people are more inclined to want to help than to get someone in trouble. An exception might be someone who flaunts their actions, but I don't remember many such cases.

North Korea: BYU detractors will agree with the comparison. Good for them. They should leave BYU and never, ever return. That's my uncharitable take.

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2 minutes ago, Mores said:

  And even those would be very rare.

Good. Makes me feel better. 

Just now, Just_A_Guy said:

Oh, law students are very fond of that sort of thing.  

I'd make a lawyer joke, but that's a little too cliche and hack-ish. Sort of like a D-List comedian getting cheap laughs by making fun of the Yankees in Boston. I'm above that. Not by much, but I'm above that. 

 

1 minute ago, Vort said:

, using clean language, and basically acting like a decent human being.

Yuk. I wouldn't last five minutes there. 

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3 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

I'd make a lawyer joke, but that's a little too cliche and hack-ish. Sort of like a D-List comedian getting cheap laughs by making fun of the Yankees in Boston. I'm above that. Not by much, but I'm above that. 

Your saving grace is that there are only two registered lawyer jokes.  The rest are just true stories.  

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2 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Your saving grace is that there are only two registered lawyer jokes.  The rest are just true stories.  

"...one's a slimy, scum-sucking bottom-feeder, and the other is a fish..."

Edited by Vort

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4 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Your saving grace is that there are only two registered lawyer jokes.  The rest are just true stories.  

That's awesome. 

 

10 minutes ago, Vort said:

So men with heavy beards who skipped shaving for a couple of days might get flagged.

I was much more blonde in my late teens/early 20's, so I could basically go six months without shaving and no one would notice! 

Edited by MormonGator

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