Brigham Young University Honor Code: A Discussion, by York Galland

I always feel pride when I think about my choice to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, for both my Bachelor’s degree and my Master of Business Administration. The school traces its roots to the pioneer days of Utah, when so many settlers worked so hard to eke out a living in a harsh environment that they eventually tamed to create thriving communities that have sustained future generations. Based on the belief that education should combine secular learning with studies of the scripture, the school first opened its doors in 1875 as Brigham Young Academy, a co-educational institution that focused on secondary coursework and opened its doors to all children in the fledgling territory.

Over the ensuing years, the school moved to new facilities, and in 1903, it adopted the name Brigham Young University (BYU). Currently, BYU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in such programs as education, engineering, liberal arts, life sciences, management, and law. Nearly 98 percent of the student body professes membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, although the school welcomes students of all faiths. No matter what their creed, the school requires all students to abide by an honor code. This honor code, which applies to all aspects of students’ lives and not just their activities on campus, mandates that students behave with integrity by submitting their own academic work and not cheating, maintaining a clean-cut appearance, and abstaining from alcohol, drugs, profanity, and extramarital sex.

Although the school did not officially adopt the honor code until 1940, a Domestic Organization composed of teachers visited students in their homes to ensure they lived according to the moral expectations of the school. This honor code has served as the subject of much discussion in recent months due to the decision to ban a BYU athlete from participating in games because of a violation of this oath. I believe that adherence to this code, especially in light of the fact that all students sign the oath and meet yearly with a faculty member to discuss any breaches, serves as a valuable life lesson for all BYU students and alumni like myself.

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