Author’s identify withheld to protect from retaliation
So don’t be alarmed, but there’s more to the Honor Code than what’s posted online. A couple of months ago, a girl I knew was caught drinking alcohol and was subsequently turned into the honor code office. Even though I didn’t know at the time that she had drunk alcohol, I was with her the night of the incident (we had gone dancing together) and thus was called into the honor code office to give a statement. After giving my statement, I was then told by the honor code office employee that even though I probably thought I was only coming in to give them a statement, I was actually getting in trouble, too.
I am an active member of the LDS faith. I recently returned home from a mission and I work very hard to live the honor code. I have never drunk alcohol or done anything of the likes, so I was very confused by the statement that I was “getting in trouble, too.”
That’s when it came out… The binder. The woman pulled out a binder containing what I presume to be the “full honor code.” She turned to a section entitled “Alcohol, other” where she read a paragraph essentially stating that is against the honor code to even be present at bars or clubs, regardless of if you are drinking alcohol. Because I had been at the dance club that night with my friend, I was technically breaking the honor code even though I wasn’t drinking or doing anything else that was inappropriate.
I was unaware that this was a part of the honor code, but I assumed it was just because I skimmed the honor code statement online too quickly and blamed my ignorance on myself. It wasn’t until Free BYU posted about the two honor codes (the short, bullet point list and then the longer, BYU Provo-specific Honor Code Statement) that I realized (after reading both) that the “Alcohol, other” section was in neither of them! I searched for a full honor code text online but was unable to find one. I realized that there are entire sections of the honor code that I don’t have access to, and that scared me.
However, here is where I started to try and see both sides. At first I was very frustrated that I could get in trouble for something I wasn’t even able to know was a rule. However, the finger-wagging I got from the Honor Code office could hardly be considered getting in real “trouble.” Usual punishments from the Honor Code range from warnings, to probation, to expulsion. I was told that what was happening to me was a level less than a warning. There was no disciplinary action and I will have no record after I graduate of ever violating any rule. Instead, I was required to sign a paper saying I had be “educated” about that specific Honor Code regulation, and that I would no longer attend bars or clubs.
I believe that this is how the Honor Code office can get away with having a bigger honor code than what they advertise. It seems that they won’t actually get you in trouble for anything in “the binder,” unless you’ve already had a run-in with them and have signed that paper acknowledging that you know about the rule. It seems like that is when the punishments can technically start.
As long as the Honor Code office actually follows that procedure of not really punishing anyone for regulations in the binder unless the student unquestionably knows about them, my mind is put at ease a tiny bit regarding the longer honor code. My guess is that most of the added regulations in the binder are about minor things that couldn’t really get people expelled, anyways.
Regardless, I think the Honor Code office should make the text of “the binder” available to BYU students. Additionally, if these are rules that they really want us to be following, they should at least let us know what they are! Maybe those rules just aren’t as important to them! Who knows?
Overall, my experience with the Honor Code office was surprising. Once I got past feeling like I had been ambushed, I did eventually understand a bit more about the binder. I don’t agree with all of the Honor Code office’s procedures, but in the end, the Honor Code office is not BYU. It will not define the way I feel about this school. The Honor Code office is not the Church, and it will not taint the way I feel about that, either. On top of everything, the Honor Code office is not God. I know that He is the highest authority, the Judge that matters most, and ultimately His is the law on which I will base my actions