BYU’s Marketing Genius and Lack of Honor

When Brandon Davies was dismissed from BYU's basketball team for having pre-marital sex, most people seemed to have two immediate reactions.

1. Well, there goes BYU's shot at a national title.
2. Really? He got suspended for having sex with his girlfriend? Give me a freaking break.

What Davies did would be considered tame on nearly any other college campus in the United States, even others with religious affiliations.

BYU is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They are more commonly known to the world as Mormon. This group of people seems to be very odd to the general population since they disallow certain things that the average American loves to consume daily, such as coffee.

What Davies did was break the honor code that every BYU student, athlete or not, signs and commits to. I'm guessing that you haven't read that code. Here it is, taken from BYU's website.

As a matter of personal commitment, students, staff, and faculty of Brigham Young University seek to demonstrate in daily living on and off campus those moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and will:

* 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

Now, before you decide that what is demanded is ridiculous and crazy, let's just accept that this code is a set of standards that every student must adhere to or suffer the consequences.

What BYU has done? The school has taken a profession that is vastly deteriorating in regards to its quality of people and made a commitment to producing higher quality people. Let's face it, as a loyal reader of any sports news, you can't go two days without reading about a professional athlete committing a criminal offense. Oftentimes it's drugs, sometimes drunk driving, sometimes assault, sometimes worse.

In an atmosphere where athletes are daily doing things unacceptable to general society and getting away with those actions or at least getting far less punishment than normal people, BYU has put in place and kept in place a set of standards that when broken have consequences, not only for the individual who broke the rule but for his or her teammates, his or her school and the school's fans. A student's celebrity status will not save him or her.

BYU is asking its students and student-athletes to rise to a standard that no other school is demanding and the result is that BYU is getting noticed by all the right people. They're getting noticed by the student-athletes who think to themselves, "There is absolutely no way I am ever going to play at BYU." Good, that's what BYU wants. If you don't take their standards seriously, go somewhere else.

This publicity also attracts all the students and their parents who are interested in helping their sons or daughters become better people and as we can see from some of BYU's current and former students, there are really high quality people who are also really high quality athletes. Jimmer Fredette being the obvious example of the day.

Now, let me make it very clear that the particular standards that BYU has chosen are not the ones I would choose (***see authors note at the bottom), tea and coffee being the foremost, but I am not the audience BYU wants to attract. I swear. I drink alcohol. I drink tea and coffee. I don't always respect others. I'm not always honest and I would certainly not claim to be virtuous. Do I wish I were capable of such things? Some no, some yes. I have no reason to give up coffee. I don't believe drinking coffee is sinful or hurtful to my body, mind or soul. I love coffee. I do wish I were capable of being more honest, of respecting others more, of being virtuous, but those things are not exactly measurable.

All of this made me wonder if other schools have honor codes. Are there any other colleges where students are signing similar agreements?

Notre Dame has nothing of the sort. While over 90% of its students self-identify as Christians (80% as Catholic) there are no rules excluding anybody for reasons of religion, beliefs or any life-style choices.

Marquette is also affiliated with the Catholic Church and they also have no honor codes or policies for any students to sign that have to deal with leading a chaste and virtuous life.

Army does have an honor code. It goes as follows:

A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do.

Nice, isn't it? A very honorable charge in my opinion.

Navy has an Honor Concept that is very similar to Army's honor code, but a bit longer:

Midshipmen are persons of integrity: They stand for that which is right.

They tell the truth and ensure that the full truth is known. They do not lie.

They embrace fairness in all actions. They ensure that work submitted as their own is their own, and that assistance received from any source is authorized and properly documented. They do not cheat.

They respect the property of others and ensure that others are able to benefit from the use of their own property. They do not steal.

Now if somebody breaks the rules at Army or Navy, what do you think happens to them? They face a trial, are judged by their peers, and if found guilty can be expelled from the school. I would say that is fair, wouldn't you? After all, I would greatly appreciate it if the soldiers protecting my freedom were high quality people who didn't lie, cheat, or steal. I think most every student who signs their name to such a code is not doing it lightly.

Other prestigious colleges and universities also have honor codes, such as Harvard, Princeton, Davidson, William and Mary, and Vanderbilt.

Of all of these, BYU's seems to be the only one that addresses anything other than ethical academic behavior. No cheating. No lying. No stealing. Have integrity. Be truthful. Be fair.

I think all of these are reasonable for every person in the United States to adhere to. I think BYU's take on what it means to have integrity, virtue or honor is vastly different from mine.

If a student is caught plagiarizing or cheating in any way at any institution, they deserve to be punished accordingly and if that means expulsion from school, so be it. If it means failing that particular class, so be it. People need to learn there are consequences for their actions. While many students may not know the full consequences of cheating, they certainly know that there will be consequences if they're caught. I think having academic consequences is admirable.

Let me tell you what BYU has done that is not admirable. They have absolutely humiliated a young man in the national spotlight. If Davies goes on to the NBA, do you think he'll be able to be known as anything other than the guy who got kicked out for having pre-marital sex?
If somebody cheats at Harvard, Princeton, Army, Navy or any other school in the country, do you think it will show up on national news? I doubt it highly.

Perhaps if the student in question were a nationally known athlete there would be national press for a cheating scandal, but even if there were, I think that would be more reasonable than what is happening to Davies because plagiarism is something unacceptable to every university (I would hope). Sex is addressed by BYU and seemingly BYU only.

That's what makes this so terrible in my eyes. This guy is at the one school in the country where the rules are stricter and he does something that the average college student does. And because BYU is so vastly different from every other university in the nation, he's suddenly in the spotlight, shamed and humiliated for doing what the average college student does.

Davies has been humiliated not because of his actions, but because of his school's desire to stand out and be different.

I've got nothing against standards. I've got nothing against being different. I've got something against humiliating a student to show off your standards, to show off how different you are.

Yes, Davies should have taken the honor code he signed seriously. Yes, BYU has every right to hold their students to whatever standards they choose. Yes, they shouldn't let their athletes get away with more than normal students. They're doing exactly what they want to do and getting the exact results they want.

But should they have humiliated this young man? No. He didn't deserve that. That wasn't the honorable thing to do. Where are BYU's virtues of forgiveness, grace and mercy? Maybe those are just important to a different type of quality people.

Author's note: This sentence initially read, "Now, let me make it very clear that I think the particular standards that BYU has chosen are completely ridiculous." Comments referring to this are accurate. I believe using the phrase "completely ridiculous" was hurtful and I apologize if I offended anyone in saying it.

Comments and Conversation

March 21, 2011

Mikus:

BYU didn’t say any thing more than he broke the honor code. Then someone let it slip and the media put it together. Choices= consequences and Brandon knows that. I bet he plays for BYU next year. If anyone could be mad it would be him. But do you see him complain?

March 21, 2011

Chris:

You are thinking of this the entirely wrong way. Brigham Young University has had these standards for much longer than the time that they have been on the national stage. BYU is not trying to exploit Brandon Davies. BYU is currently in a position where they are commonly talked about, and losing a one of their key players generates a lot of chatter. He would be talked about just as much if he had been injured.

March 21, 2011

Keith:

Exactly what did BYU do to humiliate this young man besides enforce standards they have a duty to uphold? BYU did not publicize his transgression or ask for media attention – that came because Davies happened to be in a very visible position and made a decision that forced BYU administrators to remove him from the team. BYU administrators even withheld the reason for his suspension. It was outside media sources that investigated and reported that Davies was removed for having sex. Why you are blaming BYU administrators for his humiliation is beyond me.

March 21, 2011

Lorin B.:

While well-written, this article appears hypocritical in it’s premise. BYU is simultaneously praised for its uniform and even-handed administration of its honor code, but is vilianized for its adherence to its standards for this particular young man who is also a high-profile collegiate athlete. BYU and its students do indeed hold themselves to a self-imposed higher standard, but enforcement of that standard should not be seen as self-aggrandizing. I would argue that BYU did not make this a major news story - the national media did.

March 21, 2011

Martin:

This is the stupidest blog I have read on this whole BYU/Brandon Davies issue. BYU did nothing to exploit the situation with Davies. They merely enforced their honor code the same way for a star athlete, during their basketball teams best season in school history, as they would for any other student. There IS honor in that. They are not the ones who leaked to the media that the violation involved pre-marital sex. They only stated that he had been suspended due to a violation of the school’s honor code and the intense interest from the national media did the rest. What else could they have done? Suspend him from the team without any explanation? The media would have still put it together. Bend their code to allow him to play until after the season was over? Then what would you and all the other critics be saying about their honor?

March 21, 2011

Matt:

BYU just happens to be in the national spotlight. They have had to let go of 2-3 players per year in Football for honor code violations, Harvey Unga BYU’s all-time leading rusher last year being the most notable last summer. This has been going on as long as I’ve been following BYU. They just happen to have the Jimmer and be a top 10 team this year. What if they didn’t do it? What if they weren’t consistent? Marketing machine? They potentially lost out on millions once they let go of one of their best players. BYU has a cap on students at 30,000. They are not trying to get more money…the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is debt free and not hurting and does not rely on marketing or sports dollars.

March 21, 2011

Dave:

I am afraid your article is a bit confusing. At first you recognize that BYU is committed to producing people with higher standards through their honor code, and then you say they are wrong for sticking to their guns? yes they should have high standards, and yes they should treat everyone the same…. but no, they shouldn’t? What? Honestly, I can’t discern one bit of evidence or logic in your writing to back up your notion that BYU did anything to humiliate Brandon Davies or that they acted in anyway dishonorably.

BYU did nothing - absolutely nothing to humiliate Brandon Davies. They have stood by him and protected his privacy as much as they could in this situation. The story that he had sex with his girlfriend was released not by BYU, but by a local newspaper.

BYU made no comment as to what the violation was, and every official comment from BYU has been in support of Davies as a quality individual for coming forth in the first place. They have continually commented that he is still attending the school, part of the team, and will likely play in the future.

What are you suggesting BYU did wrong here? you want them to treat everyone the same, and want them to have high standards, but when they want to actually stand up for those principles its suddenly wrong?

Just because their team is in the national spotlight, they should have brushed it under the rug and pretend nothing happened? Or say, “well since our standards are higher than other schools, they shouldn’t apply in high profile situations…” I don’t think you would have liked that either. Nobody would have liked that. Not even Brandon Davies.

Davies knew when he came forward and admitted an honor code violation what the consequences would be. I am sure he didn’t like it, but he showed honor in facing the consequences of his own actions with his head held high - regardless of what rumors (I am sure he knew) would circulate.

Honor Mr. Jones, is doing what you believe is right and fair no matter what. That is what Davies did, and that is what BYU did. and I think they are both at peace with the result.

March 21, 2011

Teresa:

Brigham Young did exactly what they should have done, otherwise they would be the liars. When one does not stick to their commitments, obligations, and policies, that institution cannot be trusted. If you have been around Brandon Davies and fans, you would know that he is receiving a lot of love and respect. He still attends games and is committed to BYU, doesn’t that show you how he feels he has been treated. There’s a lot of love and respect for someone who knows what they did is wrong, and is willing to admit it and accept the consequences knowing that they may not be very pleasant.

March 21, 2011

Eric:

Andrew Jones,
The first three quarters of your story had a very reasonable debate within it. Althought the last part, where your personal opinion of
“I’ve got something against humiliating a student to show off your standards, to show off how different you are”
is fundamentally backwards. Do you REALLY think, seriously, REALLY think that the BYU admin or Church who runs this school is taking advantage of an individual person attending the school who broke a code of conduct that they signed, is happy to use it as a way of propagandizing their standards or rules. That they are actually relieved and happy that someone broke their standard (which protects individuals from life damaging personal decisions). That doesnt even make sense. Common Man! You almost had a good article.

March 21, 2011

Al:

Mr. Jones,
How do you think BYU should have handled this IF as you say “they shouldn’t let their athletes get away with more than normal students. “

Couple of points:
1. BYU did not specifically say what part of the Honor Code was broken.
2. By you writing this article, you (the media) continue to humiliate this young man. This didn’t happen last week. Please just let it go.
3. Breaking of the Honor Code is something BYU deals with more than they like to on a yearly basis. Students that are more visible (athletes) make the news.

March 21, 2011

James Abernathy:

Has BYU “absolutely humiliated” Brandon Davies? BYU never released any information about the nature of the honor code violation; it was the press that determined he was dismissed because of premarital sex and then spread the news around the country. BYU respected his privacy, the press did not.
In your article you come down pretty heavily on BYU as an institution, mostly because BYU is a safe target. The honor code is outdated, the rules are ridiculous, etc. You should understand the honor code before you take such an extreme position on it; you should know why it’s there. The honor code is there because it’s a reflection of the lifestyle that BYU students choose. It’s there because of me and the way I live. Do you feel comfortable writing that you think I’m ridiculous, that the way I live is absurd? That would sound a bit hurtful, but essentially that’s what you write. You may be unaware that when you write “I think the particular standards that BYU has chosen are completely ridiculous,” you are attacking real people and the way that they live. You should walk in my shoes, try to see things the way I do. It’s a bit rash to deem me an absurd and ridiculous person when you don’t know me, when you don’t know why I live the way I do. You shouldn’t expect to aim your criticism at an institution without inflicting damage on the people tied to that institution. You should come to Provo sometime and see for yourself just how backward and outdated we are. The honor code is there because we, the students, want it there. I lived the honor code while at UCLA, and I live it at BYU as well. If Brandon Davies was absolutely humiliated by anyone, it was by me, it was by my lifestyle. You should be aware of the human element of the honor code, something I can’t really blame you for being unaware of because in order to understand this you would have needed actual experience with this subject before you wrote about it. Next time you critique a certain group, please preface your remarks with a statement on what your credentials are and how qualified you actually are to pass judgment on the subject matter.

March 21, 2011

John:

I cannot understand the argument that BYU has behaved dishonorably. It is far more honorable to dismiss Brandon Davies for his violation of the honor code, than to act the hypocrite and brush his violation under the rug because he is a star athlete. I have total respect for their decision. I certainly feel for Brandon. I wouldn’t care to have my flaws made public. If their is any fault here, it belongs to the media who dug deep enough to figure out what happened, and then callously made it public without consideration for those they might hurt.

March 21, 2011

Michael:

Again, I thought you had a very well written article to start. But when you started to attack BYU, because the “humiliated” Davies, you in fact humiliated him by attacking something he believes in. It is not BYU that humiliated Davies. It is the media that humiliated him. Can you open your eyes and see that you are adding pain to him? You have contributed to the thousands of blogs about Davies. Instead of blaming BYU, maybe you should blame the other editors of the media and ask them to stop. “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” I think you need to apologize to Davies, and then help others stop humiliating him. And I will give you a hint, it is not BYU. Look at yourself first.

March 21, 2011

Keith:

14 comments so far, I think, and every one of them agrees: this article takes the wrong view.

March 21, 2011

Keith:

My issue with this article is that it is self-contradictory: it’s ok for BYU to have and enforce an honor code, but if they do, they made the wrong choice and in fact did it for selfish reasons (publicity (what? (not even an attempt to cite evidence that this was BYU’s motivation))).

You say it’s ok to hold Davies accountable, but BYU should have been forgiving. Which one is it?

March 21, 2011

Bruce:

Davies confessed, and BYU suspended him from the team. That’s it. That’s all BYU did. Should BYU have kept him on the team? Is that your argument? What exactly did BYU do to humiliate him besides enforce the honor code?

March 21, 2011

Aaron:

I will not reiterate what others have said, but I will add one consideration that people seem to ignore: Davies has not uttered one complaint against the school or the team. Instead, he has continued to support the team and apologized for how his actions have hurt them. They have reciprocated his support and the fans even gave him a standing ovation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gub_iUxjOEU) when he cut down the net at the end of the season. If the fans, his teammates, his coach, and all others who have more iron in the fire with the team and school are understanding, supportive, and in agreement with what happened, why should outsiders pretend that they know more and offer opinions.

As soon as BYU beat SDSU the second time and were a strong consideration for a #1 seed, a star player’s dismissal was going to be news. BYU did not make it news. Everyone else did. the BYU statements only came our after his dismissal was made public. And those statements did not detail his actions. Those came from elsewhere. Make sure and distinguish between what BYU (school and team) said about Davies and what other news sources uncovered. The school is extremely forgiving and will continue to support and work with Davies. The embarrassing thing is now what the school did, but how people like you COMPLETELY MISCONSTRUE the whole situation.

March 21, 2011

Davies Fan:

I think BYU and Davies have handled the entire situation well. I applaud Brandon for his individual integrity after this announcement was made; the pressure on this young man must be intense, but he did not shrink into a corner. I wish him the very best.

March 21, 2011

MH:

I couldn’t agree with Mr. Jones more. Initially, I thought, fair enough. The young man knows the rules of the school. However, an organization which adheres too rigidly to its own structure can slip from maintaining high standards to losing sight of humanity. The continued display of Mr. Davies on the bench, has gone, for this observer, from being a means of including him in his team to a bit of self-indulgent piousness on the part of the school. As much as I want to enjoy the remarkable play of Jimmer Fredette, I’m finding it all rather painful to watch.

Worse, in my view, is that the young woman with whom Mr. Davies transgressed, was outed on the internet and made the victim of baseless rumors. She is not a BYU student and is not bound by its honor code, yet forever and ever, when she Googles her name, this incident will come up. I fail to see a lesson in integrity in that.

The school cannot, in this day and age, say they could not predict the media volume of their action. A key player, suspended on the eve of a potentially landmark tournament for the school? No one is going to reasonably believe he went to Starbucks. BYU knew the story would get publicity, they’ve said as much. Whatever one wants to say about Davies, I believe by giving a personal transgression a public penalty the school broke its own honor code. It did not respect the young woman. As refreshing as it might have been at first to see a school abide by the rules, ultimately I feel this matter should have been dealt with privately.

“When you pray go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6

March 21, 2011

Dan:

If anyone humiliated Brandon it was the press. This young man recognized what he had done and CONFESSED it to proper authority. When he was suspended, the press and people like the author of this article have done the harm. Although I don’t know Brandon personally I do know people and I do know that he would have been miserable if he had hidden this secret. If his was miserable would he have been an asset or a liability? Could he have concentrated or would he be distracted. Who knows but you don’t hear him complaining. But do do see him sitting next to his team mates who love and care about him. If someone thinks BYU humiliated him does not know the LDS church and the Christlike love that is there.

March 21, 2011

Andrew Jones:

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I believe MH (the 20th commenter) said much of what I would say. BYU knew this would be big news. When they understood that this Davies was going to be suspended for something that he wouldn’t be suspended for at any other school, they had a choice: to carry on publicly or privately. Yes, the media is at fault for amplifying the humiliation, but BYU is not innocent. As MH said, him sitting on the bench seems off. Either it sends the message that the coaches disagree with the school’s decision (which I don’t think is the case) or that he is doing some kind of penance for his transgressions. Supporting Davies, in my opinion would be protecting him from the media, not showing him off. Him sitting on the bench is showing him off.
Making this more private is how I think the school could have handled it better. I am not a school administrator, I don’t know how difficult that is.
I do not think they should have lied and pretended Davies was injured or had health issues or whatever.
I think this should serve as a wake up call to BYU to rethink their honor code, to consider alternatives to suspension for the breaking of that code as it relates to non-academic standards.
When I say lack of honor, I mean BYU’s honor code and its punishments for breaking that code are not honorable. Forcing students to refrain from things is about discipline and rules and law, not about honor. Forgiving that student, offering them grace and mercy is far more honorable. I think they should do that for all students, not just Davies.
To Dan, I say that Christlike love is about forgiveness and grace, not about punishment. Christ does not delay in offering forgiveness, but gives it upon confession. As soon as Davies confessed, forgiveness should have been given and punishment waived. That is Christlike love. He takes our sins and their punishment away.

March 21, 2011

LDS:

While it is almost certain that BYU didn’t disclose Davies specific offense publicly the attitude at the LDS run school is pharisaic to say the least and the pre-occupation with standards and obedience trumps virtually everything. Regularly in the university paper (Daily Universe) letters to the editor, students complain about how other students are not adequately living up to the standards of dress and behavior. IMO the honor code creates serious holier-than-thou attitudes and the tendency to tattle on one’s neighbor.

Seriously isn’t there something better to do with your time like— like get an education?

I think the school should be given credit for not letting Davies off just because he was a star athlete. At the same time think the BYU administration and student body need to focus more on education and less on whether or not everyone is worthy. It’s ironic to me that at the premier LDS university is the one place in Mormonism where forgiveness is not in practice.

March 21, 2011

Brian:

I wonder if the author would scold BYU if it did not suspend Davies? Would the author accuse BYU of favoritism? BYU did what had to be done and they did it with tact.

Where the author is wrong:
1. Suspension does not equal humiliation.
2. The “virtues of forgiveness, grace and mercy” do not eliminate the imposition of consequences.

March 21, 2011

SR:

So you’re saying BYU shouldn’t have kicked Davies off the team at all? And that everything should have been dealt with in “private”? Right, because Christ rebuked others in private, right? Oh wait, he rebuked Pharisees (among others) in public. Maybe he should have “privately” dealt with the moneychangers too.

Admit it - you were ready to criticize BYU’s actions no matter what it did - it’s a complete Catch 22. If they didn’t suspend Davies, they were sacrificing morality for a filthy lucre (national championship) and encouraging a double standard. If they did, they were “heartless” and unforgiving.

March 21, 2011

Andrew Jones:

SR - Christ rebuked the Pharisees because they would not admit their sin, not because they had done wrong. With everyone he encounters who confesses, he freely forgives. Look at the thief on the cross in Luke 23, Matthew in Matthew 9, the woman caught in adultery in John 8 (and she didn’t even confess), Zacchaeus in Luke 19. I don’t think Davies is comparable to a Pharisee. They never confessed.
I would not have written this article had BYU not suspended Davies.

March 21, 2011

SR:

I disagree. Christ never provided an example of keeping things “private” in order to protect others and their reputations. The moneychangers were not given an opportunity to admit their guilt and then quietly leave the temple. Christ corrected the wealthy man in public. He also corrected Peter on many occasions in front of others (which must have been embarrassing for Peter and his reputation). In none of those examples can you say that the individuals were unwilling to admit their guilt. Christ provided many examples, but keeping all matters of spirituality private in order to protect individuals’ reputations was simply not one of them.

People were poised to attack BYU no matter what it decided to do. And you surely would have found out about any inaction by the school when Davies’ girlfriend was discovered to be pregnant.

BYU fans cheered for Davies when he helped cut down the nets, everyone wants him to stay and play and get his life back on track. Outside of BYU, people feel bad that he was kicked off the team for such a “ridiculous” reason. All I see is sympathy - I see no ridicule, shame or judgment being heaped on Davies beyond what is inherent in the situation and the overexposure by the press. Certainly nothing BYU has done.

March 21, 2011

Dave:

Andrew Jones:
Forgiveness is absolutely vital in a situation like this. But forgiveness has nothing to do with the issue here. Forgiveness is given by one who is injured or by God - BYU’s enforcement of their honor code had nothing to do with forgiveness. It was a showing of honor by them and by Davies. If anything, Brandon Davies injured them only by hurting their chances in this tournament - the team and school have shown him forgiveness, grace and mercy by supporting him in the consequences of his actions and keeping him as part of their school and team. I think its ridiculous to think that Davies would have preferred to be left home from Denver for the last two games.

and you say having rules that “force students” to behave a certain way is not honor? I think every school in the country would disagree with you on that. Sure, you say that many aspects of BYU’s honor code fall outside of the definition of “honor,” but that is YOUR definition of honor. not BYU’s, not the students’, and not Brandon Davies’. As ridiculous as it may seem to have drinking a latte be dishonorable, it is dishonorable if the person has made commitments to God to never do that.

For a school owned by a Church, and to a student of that school and/or a member of that church, it is absolutely a matter of honor to obey and promulgate those rules amongst the student body of the school. Once a person has promised verbally and in writing that he will obey any rule (no matter how absurd it seems to others) it is absolutely a matter of honor.

The ONLY way for a person to maintain their honor is to live by the principles they believe in. Brandon Davies did that and the school supported him.

March 21, 2011

Andrew Jones:

SR - Firstly, thanks for your comments. I am always happy to dialogue with fellow sports fans on important issues.
My point is that forgiveness should not be delayed. Christ doesn’t make people wait before he forgives them. He forgives them upon their confession. He doesn’t rebuke Peter when Peter admits his guilt, he rebukes Peter when Peter is being and idiot, when his focus is in the wrong place.
Why not forgive now? Why not forgive anyone who confesses immediately? Does BYU not believe Davies is truthfully sorry? Does BYU think he needs to prove himself by waiting? I simply disagree with that idea.
I am not in the business of being poised to attack anyone. I have no long-lasting grudge with BYU. I simply disagree with their policies just as you disagree with my article. And that’s ok.

March 21, 2011

Dave:

Not to jump in on your discussion with SR, but to respond to your latest comment Mr. Jones, I agree that forgiveness should be immediate. . But forgiveness can’t remove all of the consequences of our actions. The school DID forgive Brandon Davies, but that doesn’t mean his actions have no consequences.

If we never had consequences when we violated a rule, then why have rules? If the only rule that if you do something wrong, you have to tell someone about it, then it doesn’t really matter what we do - we just tell someone and then its all better.

In reality, the consequences of the violation of a rule are the reason we have rules in the first place. the High standard of health, morality and conduct produce the kind of people that BYU wants as its Alumni - people that understand the importance of these standards and the consequences when they are not followed. I believe that Brandon Davies understood that before and understands that now. I don’t think he feels humiliated at all. Humble, yes. but also proud that he is part of an institution and group that can accept him and is faults and honor their beliefs at the same time.

March 21, 2011

Andrew Jones:

Dave -
You make some very good points. I do think the school has an obligation to forgive because it was their code that was broken. If not the school, who is forgiving Davies (aside from God)?
I try to make it very clear that BYU’s views of honor and virtue are different from mine. What I state are opinions, nothing more. I am aware of this and do not think what I have to say is absolute truth.
I agree that people who make committments to God should follow through. But I think where we would disagree greatly is in the idea that we are capable of obeying in every way that we’ve been asked to.
Paul says in Romans 3 “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Why has BYU selected these things that they consider sinful? Why haven’t they outlawed every sin, demanding perfection? What sets apart their honor code from sins like coveting or lustful thoughts? I think I’m the type of person who simply focuses on forgiveness. As Paul continues in Romans 3: “And are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
I keep my honor (or attempt to keep it at any rate) by knowing I can’t live a perfect life and knowing that Christ forgives me by his grace. That’s what I believe in.

March 21, 2011

Andrew Jones:

Dave - As per your last comment. I understand what you’re saying. Consequences are important. I agree. I’m asking BYU to look into changing their policies in the future, reconsidering the severity of the consequences. I understand if you and SR (and everybody else) think that would be watering things down. I think that would be more effective.

March 21, 2011

Dave:

Mr. Jones:
Also some great points! Thank you. to the first question; as to who has to forgive Davies: in a situation like this, I think that the mistake he made, assuming it was for having sex, is between him, his girlfriend and God. Hence the reason the school declined in anyway to comment as to what the honor code violation was - it doesn’t matter to the school in any other way than that it was a violation of the signed honor code.

And the honor code isn’t meant to be a mandate for perfection. To an LDS person the things that the BYU honor code requires are things that they all do always. its not asking that you never do anything wrong, because that would, as you point out, be impossible.

In my view, Davies’ situation is the perfect example to answer all of your questions. He made a mistake, like we all do, because none of us are perfect. and our mistakes have consequences. But fortunately we are loved by God, and through Christ we can be redeemed as long as we are humble enough to learn from our mistakes, accept the consequences with dignity, and use them as an opportunity to make ourselves better in the future.

March 21, 2011

Andrew Jones:

Readers should be aware that I have made an edit to this article. I explain it in the author’s note at the bottom. My apologies if my phrasing was hurtful.

March 21, 2011

Andrew Jones:

Dave - Thanks for the clarifications. Seeing this honor code as a list of things LDS people already do is helpful in understanding why they are listed in the honor code.
Thanks for the conversation.

March 21, 2011

Marc James:

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March 21, 2011

Atherton Wing:

This seems to be written from a business perspective, when it appears to be a cultural problem. Yes there will be an outcome from a business perspective for the school, but you seem to be implying entrapment of the student.

Assumption of malice on the part of BYU makes you out to be unforgiving, and unmerciful, not the school itself.

March 22, 2011

Andrew Jones:

Atherton (nice Firefly shout out by the way),
I think the business of BYU, as a previous commenter pointed out, is not all about making money, but rather about building a community and culture of like-minded people committed to the same principles. For the fall semester of 2009, BYU only accepted 68% of applicants, which puts it in a very selective category and as a school gets more selective, its students get better and after a decade or three, BYU’s endowment will see the benefit of the selectivity.
I think BYU is more concerned with culture than business. They are intertwined in some aspects, but I think they market for the sake of culture more than money. I could be dead wrong on that.

I don’t think BYU is attempting to knowingly be malicious. I think BYU administrators are doing what they feel is right. It’s not what I would do. I don’t think that assumes the school is malicious. Rather it states that I believe what the school has done has been hurtful. Many people don’t believe that. That’s all right with me.

March 22, 2011

Jess:

Davies told the news what he did not BYU. Davies turned himself in and BYU just said he broke the honor code. Please do some research next time.

March 22, 2011

Jane:

Dear Andrew, if you want to be taken quasi-seriously as a writer, know this: “in regards to” is incorrect English. The correct term is “in regard to.”

That being said, may I suggest that you do more research before you attempt an article so that your facts are straight. BYU didn’t out Brandon Davies - the media did. All the school did was make a statement that Davies had been suspended due to an honor code violation. Period. It was the media frenzy that followed as to which reporter would obtain the salacious details that made the situation worse. In that regard it would appear the winner is the Salt Lake Tribune. Congratulations, SLT, you’d do the National Enquirer proud.

Just because Davies was a star athlete doesn’t mean he is exempt from the rules and the punishment that follows. As you may have surmised by now, BYU isn’t like other schools and they don’t really give a crap what anyone else thinks about them, the LDS Church or the honor code. It’s not as if Davies is the only student to have gone through this - the only reason it’s come to forefront is because of the timing. And speaking of timing, BYU has taken a hit for ‘conveniently’ letting the issue slide until after the big game with SDSU. Really? If winning was such a big issue, don’t you think school officials would have continued this ploy until AFTER the NCAA tournament?? While this attitude may be the norm for schools whose roster of thug athletes would do well as Gaddafi mercenaries, alas, such is not the case at BYU.

The bright spot in this whole brouhaha has been Davies himself. Knowing what was at stake, he could have kept his mouth shut and gone along for the ride, perhaps all the way to the Final Four. The fact that he had a conscience and spoke up speaks volumes about his character. He has had his entire personal life exposed to the world and goodness only knows how many tears he has cried, but it is obvious he loves his teammates and they love him. (Which makes the speculation of which school would try to lure Davies to their program absolutely hilarious.)

For those who feel that BYU should just forgive and forget (in which camp Andrew seems to support) mercy cannot rob justice. If you’re a parent and your children do something wrong, there’s no question that you love them, but they still must suffer the consequences of their actions.

I am still trying to figure out the “marketing genius” of BYU. How is offering up Brandon Davies as their sacrificial lamb and putting him through this horrific spectacle a plausible marketing technique??? News alert - BYU doesn’t need to market itself. It is one of the biggest schools in the country and students go there because they WANT to - honor code and all.

March 23, 2011

Andrew Jones:

Jane -
As I said in the article, I believe it is marketing genius in that the spotlight has been shining upon BYU’s honor code. More people have probably read that code in the past month than did in the previous year. Marketing isn’t all about getting bigger. It is also about attracting the right people to your business, school or idea and making that group more tightly connected. I think this situation has done that. I’m not suggesting BYU needs more students. I’m suggesting this situation will play to their advantage in the long run, attracting students who want to go to their school and be a part of the atmosphere the school provides.
I said nothing about BYU’s timing. I’ve never suggested they let it slide until after the tournament.
I also don’t believe this comparison was fair at all: “While this attitude may be the norm for schools whose roster of thug athletes would do well as Gaddafi mercenaries, alas, such is not the case at BYU.”
I’m sorry but I am unaware of any athletes who deserve to be compared to terrorists.
I understand your comment about mercy not robbing justice. I think your example of parenting is a good one. I am not saying Davies shouldn’t have any consequences. I’m not saying he should get special treatment. I’m saying BYU should reconsider the current system of consequences when a student violates the honor code.
I have not suggested this because I don’t believe in justice, but rather because I believe more in mercy. I believe it is more powerful. I believe it is more effective.

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