The Lord’s University
Bryan Waterman and Brian Kagel
Making Model Students: The Transformation of the Honor Code
[p.124]In the spring of 1993, only a few months before BYU fired faculty members David Knowlton and Cecilia Konchar Farr, visiting professor of humanities and BYU alumnus Karl Sandberg published an essay in the independent Student Review recalling his years as a student in the 1950s. Imagining himself as “Rip Van Sandberg,” falling asleep on the Maeser building’s lawn as an undergraduate and waking up forty-five years later, he used the conceit to map changes he had observed in BYU’s social and intellectual geographies. “[W]hat appears to me to be the biggest change at BYU,” he concluded, “is a loss of confidence.” His main illustration of this point regarded the university’s honor code: “When the honor code was established in the 1950s,” he wrote, “it applied to academic work, and could be stated very simply: the students agreed not to cheat and the faculty agreed not to snoop. It worked well. Honor could only arise from within. To think of honor being enforced would have been a contradiction in terms, a loss of confidence in the principle or the principals.” In contrast to that early conception, Sandberg observed during his 1993 visit “a general obsession in the church with control, and the effect of that control seems to be nothing so much as the ghettoization of Mormon intellectual and social life.”1
Slightly contrasting Sandberg’s narrative (but perhaps reinforcing it, as well), First Presidency member Gordon B. Hinckley presented students in the fall of 1994 with his own history of the honor code. The honor code, he told students, is part of a series of codes and covenants ranging from Athenian social compacts to the order of marriage, all promises an individual makes that ensure order and honor in society. To those who consider the honor code—including the university’s stringent dress and grooming standards—to be “childish,” Hinckley suggested that “codes of behavior are not new nor are they out of date.” In fact, he argued, BYU’s codes of behavior exist because students asked for them: The honor code, he said, “is an outgrowth of the action of a group of students who felt strongly that the acceptance of a Code of Honor by those who attended this school would have a salutary effect on all.”2
[p.125]The church leader’s understanding of the honor code’s evolution likely was drawn from his own memory and from former BYU president Ernest Wilkinson’s official history of the school. Like Hinckley’s address, Wilkinson’s history emphasizes the code’s student (rather than administrative) origins. Following World War II, according to Wilkinson, students who “generally obeyed the school’s regulations … urged the implementation of the honor code,” which would “place responsibility for conduct in keeping with the gospel principles on the students themselves.”3 The first such code, he writes, was instituted in the fall of 1949.
Judged against Sandberg’s memories, Hinckley’s and Wilkinson’s histories seem to ignore a major transformation in the code’s half-century development. While the 1949 code was, as they argue, put into place at the students’ request, by Wilkinson’s retirement in 1971 it was administered almost entirely by university and church officials. The most significant portion of this transformation came during Wilkinson’s final six years in office, when his fear of the growing student counterculture on other American campuses, coupled with his belief in America’s imminent destruction due to its corrupt government, caused him to take drastic measures to ensure that BYU remain “an island of tranquility in a sea of violent turbulence.”4
While the long-haired student radicals Wilkinson feared are now safely a part of American history, BYU’s behavioral codes have never quite escaped Wilkinson’s shadow. During his final years in office, the code took on the character it largely retains today, with only subtle changes in recent years. More importantly, the reasoning behind the code has for the most part remained Wilkinson’s: BYU, the argument holds, is a showcase to the world for the high moral stature of its students and of Mormons generally; its students are to help fuel Mormonism’s moral leadership in world arenas. “BYU, as the flagship of LDS Church education,” Wilkinson wrote in his official history, “had to set a proper example of dress, dance, and behavior in keeping with the Mormon philosophy that men and women should shun the world and all its unseemliness.”5 In the face of enrollment caps that began under Wilkinson, the university’s rationale for disciplinary action against honor code offenders has also remained: those who cannot or will not abide by BYU’s behavioral restrictions should make way for those “worthy” applicants waiting to get in.
Changes through 1965
For the first fourteen years of his tenure as university president, Wilkinson’s focus was largely absorbed by his twin goals of expanding the university’s size and its academic reputation. Only a few thousand students attended BYU in 1951, the year Wilkinson took office. Twenty years later the school had established an enrollment cap of 20,000 students and was, according to Dean of Students J. Elliot Cameron, turning applicants away each year by the thousands. The growth meant increasing difficulty for the [p.125]administration in monitoring and disciplining students, and it also meant that admission became increasingly viewed, in a phrase still common at the turn of the twenty-first century, as a privilege and not a right. Wilkinson’s goal of creating the world’s most important university depended, he believed, on controlling not only academic and political life for faculty, but also social life for students. He oversaw, especially during the 1960s, aspects of student life as minute as what music could be played on campus, what dances could be danced, what movies could be shown—even in off-campus theaters—and, perhaps receiving his greatest attention, what clothes could be worn (especially by women) and what hair-styles could be sported (especially by men). Such examples of student control were largely facilitated by Wilkinson’s conceptual shift from a code of honor to what he preferred to call a “code of conduct.”6
Wilkinson’s efforts to use the honor code to control student behavior began in earnest in the mid-1960s and were prompted by transformations in the larger American culture. The late 1950s and early 1960s witnessed a shift in national government from the Republicanism of the Eisenhower era to the Democratic Kennedy and Johnson administrations. National media attention shifted from the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to the civil rights movement and growing resistance to U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In this climate Wilkinson began to pay as much attention to national politics as to BYU expansion. In the late 1950s he began to consider invitations to run as a Republican candidate for the U.S. senate. After discussing the matter with church officials on the school’s board of trustees, however, he explained to Utah’s governor that his presence at BYU was more important than a bid for political office: “Eventually the Mormon Church,” he told the non-Mormon governor, “will mean more to the world than the American Congress or the American Government, and I feel I can probably do more good in developing a great educational system for the Church than by going to Washington.”7
By 1964, however, Wilkinson, now sixty-five, had begun to feel that his usefulness to BYU was coming to an end.8 The physical plant and student body had already expanded phenomenally: at that point just over 15,000 students were enrolled, more than triple the population of BYU when he became president.9 Furthermore, state and national politics seemed to Wilkinson to be declining morally at an alarming rate. The slot he had refused to run for six years earlier had gone to a Democrat, whose party Wilkinson identified with socialism and communism. During the 1960 election season Wilkinson, who had recently received a blessing from church president David O. McKay instructing him to protect “our people” from the “ungodlike philosophy” of communism, began to worry about the “financial solvency of our country.” When Richard Nixon lost the U.S. presidential race to John F. Kennedy, Wilkinson feared that the Massachusetts senator’s “socialist proposals” would bring the country to ruin.10
[p.127]In 1964, then, Wilkinson made the hard decision to step down as BYU president and run against Democratic senator Frank Moss. An ugly battle ensued, and Wilkinson lost to the incumbent. His tail between his legs, his fears about godless government seemingly confirmed, he returned to BYU after a hiatus of less than a year.11 At this point Wilkinson was forced to reconsider his mission at and for BYU. Having left the school convinced his work there was done, he now reevaluated the potential power in using his position at the university’s helm to stem socialism’s growth. For faculty members, this would mean Wilkinson’s launching, in 1966, a “spy ring” designed to keep tabs on “liberal” faculty members.12 For students it would mean Wilkinson’s stepping up what he called “the standards crusade.”13
The Standards Crusade, 1965-67: “The Decline … of the American Republic”
For Wilkinson, the world in the spring of 1965 seemed to be falling apart. America’s attention had been captured by the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964, bringing the first general public awareness to the country’s conflict with Vietnam. The fall election had resulted in Lyndon Johnson remaining in office. Conflict within Mormonism over the civil rights movement (which many conservatives, like Wilkinson’s friend Apostle Ezra Taft Benson, considered communist-controlled) led some to fear that, in protest of the church’s policies prohibiting the priesthood ordination of black men of African descent, unidentified “outside agitators” would stage a race riot in Salt Lake City during the church’s fall 1965 general conference.14 American youth culture also seemed to be deteriorating, as suggested by such things as the wave of popularity surrounding the mop-topped Beatles from Britain. More disturbing to Wilkinson was what the mainstream media was beginning to call “campus unrest.” From the disruption of HUAC meetings by Berkeley students in 1960 to the launching of that school’s Free Speech Movement in 1964, U.S. News and World Report had published a series of articles on student protests that caught Wilkinson’s attention. Each asked the same question: “Are Reds to Blame?”15 In response, Wilkinson instituted a practice of beginning each fall semester with a “crisp statement” to the entire student body: rioters would be expelled, no questions asked. In response, he later recalled, students unfailingly answered with a standing ovation.16
By 1965, from the perspective of Wilkinson’s official history, “the dimensions of campus unrest had been broadened to include domestic racial problems, the draft, drugs, coeducational dormitories, student control of curriculum, student determination of administrative policies, the exclusion of police from college campuses, and a multitude of other issues [including] the war in Vietnam.”17 Operating within an understanding of national events that saw both “campus unrest” and Democratic party victories as signs of a looming socialist state, Wilkinson returned to BYU from his failed  political venture. In May 1965, at the end of his first semester back in office, he delivered an apocalyptic commencement address: “The Decline and Possible Fall of the American Republic.” Citing rising rates of crime, juvenile delinquency, immorality, divorce, and public welfare, the president blamed these “evidences of moral decay” on the steady increase of federal power beginning with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and extending to Lyndon Johnson’s views on social security. Together with the “confiscatory” nature of income tax, an increase of Supreme Court influence, and the federal government’s “deficit financing,” these proofs (in Wilkinson’s mind) of federally funded moral decline spelled the end of cherished American freedoms.
Wilkinson based his address largely on the words of Mormon leaders from Joseph Smith to the current church president and ardent cold warrior, David O. McKay. In particular he emphasized a “prophecy attributed to the Prophet Joseph that the Constitution of the United States would hang by a single thread, but be saved by the Elders of Israel,” meaning church leaders and Mormon men generally. Having failed in his bid for public office, Wilkinson sought to act on “the duty of a university president” in “times of national and world crisis … to speak forth boldly in behalf of what he considers to be the truth.” Confessing his belief that “my generation has failed you [graduates] in preserving and strengthening the Constitution,” Wilkinson vowed that he would mail copies of his talk, along with a compendium of anti-communist “prophetic utterances,” to every graduate, “with the hope that you may help stem the tide that is now engulfing our country.”18
Wilkinson wanted not only to warn graduates, but also to make BYU a national resource for patriotic anti-communism. One of his major goals upon returning to the university was “to have set up on the campus an outstanding center for the study of political principles based on the Constitution and the political creeds of its founders which would provide free-enterprise solutions to many of the economic problems … currently facing the nation.”19 Although the faculty for the most part resisted such a project, Wilkinson continued his own conservative education (he spent part of that summer in personal training with the head of the John Birch Society20) and shifted much of his attention to preserving a conservative political and social consensus among students by coopting the student honor code.
Preventing communism from creeping onto campus depended in large measure, for Wilkinson, on his ability to prevent student unrest. Wherever the president saw change, discontent, or challenges to traditional authority on other campuses, he moved quickly to prevent the possibility that such evils would emerge from within his school. During his first fall semester address to the student body after returning to BYU, Wilkinson launched into the issue of student dress—a topic that would preoccupy the president for the remainder of his term at BYU. While expensive clothing was discouraged at BYU, Wilkinson told students, “we do expect the boys to have civilized attire, and we expect the girls to be modest and becoming in their [p.129]dress.” With the Beatles (and, probably, such cultural pariahs as beat poet Allen Ginsberg) in mind, Wilkinson spent the next several minutes commenting on the state of American college fashion: “[W]e do not want on our campus any beetles, beatniks, or buzzards,” he told students, revealing his characteristically acerbic sense of humor: “We have on this campus scientists who are specialists in the control of insects, beetles, beatniks and buzzards. Usually we use chemical or biological control methods, but often we just step on them to exterminate them. For biological specimens like students, we usually send them to the Dean of Students for the same kind of treatment.”21 Although Wilkinson did not yet draw attention to the issue of men’s beards, a Daily Universe writer earlier in the year had noticed an increase in facial hair on campus. Wilkinson’s main concern in the fall 1965 address, though, was sloppiness in general and what he perceived as the anti-social and anti-authoritarian culture of campus unrest. In the past, Wilkinson continued, “[c]ertain kinds of people who seemed to be odd balls and had no regard for the culture or responsibilities of a civilized people were first characterized as ‘deadbeats’ and are now referred to as ‘beatniks.’ There is no place at B.Y.U. for the grimy, sandaled, tight-fitted, ragged-levi beatnik. If any appear on campus we intend to ‘tick them off.’”
Wilkinson’s concerns regarding student dress were gender-inclusive, and carried an implicit anti-Californian bias that probably reflected the increase at BYU of California students (no doubt too highly represented, in Wilkinson’s view, among troublemakers) as well as the increasingly notorious activities of Berkeley students. “As to the dress standards of women,” he told students,
we want no “go-go girls” nor their pseudo-sophisticated friends, nor will we tolerate any “surfers.” And for faculty members who are behind time on their modem high school terminology, [an administrator] informs me that a “go-go girl” is a “sexy, scantily-dressed girl,” and a “surfer” is one who is sloppily clad, often in a T-shirt or shorts, and sometimes barefooted. Indeed, it is out of place for girls to wear slacks to any class or appear in them in any academic or administrative building on campus. This includes secretaries as well.22
Wilkinson’s talk belied an increasing anxiety over “control” (most evident in his comic portrayal of administrators as a pest control squad). This emphasis stemmed from new realities for BYU. In the fall of 1965 Wilkinson no longer had to fret about recruiting prospective students. Now, after a decade and a half in office, he had opposite worries: how to maintain individual influence over 15,000 students, and how to justify to church members the board’s imminent decision to cap enrollment. In addition, his student concerns throughout his remaining years in office centered around three broad and related topics: ferreting out “unworthy” students, institutionalizing the student dress regulations he had been hinting at, and increasing ad-[p.130]ministrative control over student conduct code enforcement (including the use of campus police to combat drug use).
Keeping track of students brought with it, Wilkinson believed, another problem: facilitating social intercourse among a large student body. To deal with these challenges, beginning in the fall of 1965 Wilkinson sought to require students to wear name badges on campus. The proposal met with resistance from students, but Wilkinson brought up the topic perennially. In 1966 he even spent $6,000 on over 20,000 name tags, though Dean of Students J. Elliot Cameron reported that student reaction was “very negative” and that “approximately 90 percent would not wear the name tages [sic] even for their ward functions.” Based on such a dismal response, Cameron begged Wilkinson to drop the matter the following year. Instead, he told the president prior to the start of the 1967 fall semester, students would wear tags “during orientation and registration periods,” serving “to identity the students when you shake hands with them.”23 Two years later Wilkinson pursued the idea again as a “good way of breaking the impersonal attitude that is appearing on our campus where we have so many students.” Some $6,000 was not too much to pay, he argued, “that is only 25 cents per student.” On second thought, he added in a subsequent memo, “why don’t we get a real ritzy name plate and charge students for it—say 50 cents a piece. … Sometimes people appreciate much more thing[s] for which they pay.”24 Much to his dismay, the plan never materialized.
The anxiety Wilkinson felt was manifested in another campaign from the late 1960s: an attempt to have campus church leaders identity and help root out problem students. In order to preserve the “worthiness” of the student body (especially in the face of an increasing number of parents who asked why their children were not enrolled), Wilkinson took steps, beginning in 1966, to require bishops of prospective students to provide information about an applicant’s activity in and attitudes toward the LDS church. In a memorandum to the board of trustees, Wilkinson explained that the proposed “questionnaire”—not a recommend, he stressed—for bishops “would probably ask somewhat the same questions as are asked for a temple recommend, together with other questions thought suitable for students.” A similar attempt had been made some two decades previously, he explained, but received opposition from bishops who “thought sending youngsters to the BYU was a way to reform them.” Wilkinson wanted to attempt a pilot program in the 1967 school year, then send the questionnaire to bishops generally before the fall 1968 school year.25
A similar course was undertaken to identity problem students who had already been admitted. In early 1967 the administration received board approval to ask stake presidents and bishops to name students with poor church activity or other potential problems. Wilkinson was annoyed to find campus bishops resistant to the request: on 8 March he confided defensively to his diary that “stake presidents [had been] alarmed over a letter that had been sent [p.131]out by the First Presidency, which was meeting vigorous opposition from the bishops.” Bishops had assumed “that we were going to take disciplinary action against certain students,” he wrote, “when all we wanted it for was informational purposes.”26 The following month the proposal met some opposition from faculty as well. Wilkinson reported on the project at a faculty meeting, saying that “if students are not living the standards of the university and the Church they should not be permitted to remain in the school and prevent worthy members of the Church from attending.” One faculty member—English professor Douglas Thayer—said he “felt the administration should make it clear that the bishops are not to reveal information on students who have come to them in confidence.” Wilkinson and Dean Cameron said they had not worked out an answer to that problem. While bishops might not reveal specific details to administrators, he said, “if they have been informed of a student’s inactivity or inability to live the standards of the church by another source they are to reveal this to the University administration.” The university “must sustain the Board of Trustees in carrying out this policy in the best manner possible,” he told faculty members.27 (What he did not tell them, of course, was that the idea was originally his.)
In response to the request for information, bishops reported a total of 125 problem students prior to the fall 1967 semester. Contrary to Wilkinson’s diary entry in which he claimed only “informational” interest in such a list, the students were prevented from registering for the new semester. “All of these students,” the Dean of Admissions and Records wrote to Wilkinson, “have … exhibited negative attitude toward B.Y.U. and/or the Church and have been inactive in the Church or in others ways have demonstrated that they are not in harmony with the standards of B.Y.U.” The students would be informed when they attempted to register that they had to meet with Dean Cameron or another university official. “It is expected that some of these students,” the Dean of Admissions continued, “would exhibit a willingness to conform to B.Y.U. standards and would be permitted to register; others will not be permitted to register.”28
Another measure Wilkinson took beginning in 1966 was to move beyond his initial injunctions and to institutionalize regulations on student clothing. While women in particular had experienced restrictions on what they could wear on campus, these standards had for the most part been set by church-wide publications, most recently the 1965 pamphlet For the Strength of Youth. The informal policy that women wear dresses on campus had never been rigorously challenged, but as student fashions moved toward shorter skirts Wilkinson began dictating what constituted an appropriate dress. In an October 1966 devotional, he referred students to For the Strength of Youth, which advised that “[i]t is difficult to make an overall statement concerning modest standards of dress, because modesty cannot be determined by inches or fit since that which looks modest on one person may not be so on another” For Wilkinson, though, this prescription was no [p.132]longer specific enough, and he provided more detailed guidelines: “Skirts should be long enough to cover the knee cap,” he said, “and they should not be too tight fitting. Dresses should not be cut extremely low at the top. Strapless dresses and spaghetti straps are not acceptable …. Pants for young women are not desirable attire for shopping, school, … or restaurants … , Shorts may be worn [only] during actual participation in active sports.” At dances, he said, men “should wear a suit with dress shirt and tie [or] a sports jacket, or dressy sweater … [at] more casual dances.”29 For the Strength of Youth also indicated that “young men’s hair should not be too long.” (Wilkinson was not the only conservative in America to employ such tactics, of course. In 1966 ardent cold warrior Walt Disney, for example, turned over 500 long-haired or bearded students away from Disneyland.30)
Controversy over BYU’s orally transmitted dress standards first erupted a few months later when, in early December, staff in the Wilkinson Center was instructed to enforce “dress standards” in the bowling alley and hobby shop. Lyle Curtis, director of the student center, told the Universe that his employees would turn away “coeds … unless they were wearing dresses.” For those working on crafts projects, he continued, they had “developed a mother-hubbard type of apron … [to] protect the ladies’ clothing as they work.”31 Two days later the paper reported that the student government’s executive council had voted “unanimously … [to oppose] the Wilkinson Center’s ‘no slacks’ policy, and appointed a three-man committee to appeal the issue with the Administration Dress Standards officials.”32 Within a few weeks the student body president, Lynn Southam, and the administration’s student coordinator released a joint statement announcing that “the Dress Standards Committee of BYU has decided to allow girls to wear slacks on the lower floor” of the WIlkinson Center. In addition, student officers recommended the appointment of a new Dress Standards Committee—one that included students in the decision-making process.33
Perhaps because students claimed victory in allowing women to bowl in slacks, Wilkinson stepped up his argument that BYU women were not welcome on campus generally unless they wore dresses of appropriate length. Mini-skirts, in his mind, were as scandalous as pants: one was too erotic, the other too masculine. “It is out of place on this campus for girls to wear slacks in any class, or mini-skirts anywhere,” he told students as classes reconvened in September 1967. “Last week I saw only one girl on this campus with a mini-skirt and she didn’t have anything to show.”34
That year Wilkinson launched his first attempt to remove administration of the honor code from student control. In January, the same month that student leaders claimed victory in the Wilkinson Center “no slacks” controversy, the student Honor Council announced it was surrendering its “authority to impose disciplinary measures” to the administration-controlled Academic Standards and University Standards committees. (The division between the two administrative committees also signaled the sepa-[p.133]ration in the honor code between cheating issues and behavioral standards associated with dress, sex, and Word of Wisdom matters.) A year earlier student leaders had been told that failing to yield their authority in these areas would result in a wholly revised honor code system with no input from students. The student Honor Council’s new functions would be strictly educational.35
In November students learned of the change in honor code administration and that the code itself had been revised, most notably to include a proscription against “possession, dispensing, and/or use” of illegal narcotics. Tag Taggart, chair of the student Honor Council, said that copies of the new code would be made available to students shortly.36 The same day the Universe reported these changes, the newspaper ran an in-house editorial protesting the fact that students had not voted on the revisions. An administration-enforced policy, editors felt, removed the concept of honor” from the honor code.37
Over the next several weeks students struggled to understand the implications of the new system. In an article explaining the administration’s approach to discipline, one student journalist noted that students reported to the Standards Office would be called in and asked about the truth of the charges. “If the accusation is denied,” the reporter explained, “the person making the charges is requested to supply proof.” Even if the evidence against a student is overwhelming, the article continued, there “is always an avenue of escape” for the wrongly accused: “This is the polygraph, or ‘lie detector’ test, which is administered by Captain Swen C. Nielsen of [Campus] Security. While the test … would not be admitted as evidence in a courtroom, it is accepted by BYU.”38
Concerns about the new honor code at the end of 1967 were not limited to students. Faculty members learned in December that a revision of the University Handbook subjected teachers, for the first time, to the same honor code provisions required of students. The development led to an explosive faculty meeting mid-month, when several professors charged that placing faculty under a regulated code of behavior demonstrated an unmistakable lack of confidence and respect. Teachers demanded to vote on the measure. The Universe reported that the “meeting erupted into a heated; emotional debate, ending in abrupt adjournment.” Academic Vice President Robert K. Thomas, who was in charge, announced he would never again chair a faculty meeting. Refusing to accept further motions, according to the news report, he “called on a faculty member for the benediction and adjourned the meeting.”39
1968-69: From Honor Code to Code of Student Conduct
The controversies over the administration’s takeover of the honor code continued through the entire next year. It became clear in early 1968 that part of the reason Wilkinson wanted to revamp honor code procedures was [p.134]an increase of drug use among students. Following the arrest of five undergraduates on marijuana charges in January, Wilkinson issued a statement that students arrested for drug use or possession would be automatically suspended. Dean Cameron explained the decision to the Universe, arguing that the arrest itself was sufficient cause for disciplinary action. “The suspended student, if found not guilty,” the Universe noted, would have “no possibility of getting credit for the semester’s classes. He would have to register and repeat everything” after appealing the suspension.40
In response, defense attorneys for the five students protested that suspending students on a presumption of guilt was unfair. Further, they claimed BYU security officers had used “gestapo tactics” by relying on undercover campus police and student informers to encourage other students to use drugs. In a Universe article reporting the attorneys’ claims, Cameron retracted his previous statement and said that the university would, in the future, deal with disciplinary cases individually.41 However, the five students were still suspended on the basis of their arrests. According to the students, no one from the school ever talked to them about the incident and they were not allowed to defend themselves to University Standards officials.42
Some students reacted angrily to these actions. “Someone should inform Dean Cameron that the present year is 1968 and not 1984,” one student wrote to the Universe.43 One of the newspaper’s writers, Judy Geisler, even asked the administration: “Is it gratifying in some way to sit in your offices and act out the roles of the judge and the jury? Do you find it rewarding to pronounce judgment in cases that have not yet gone to court? … I cannot believe that you are so blind to the concepts of due process of law that you would presume guilt until these students are proven innocent.”44 Universe editors also entered the fray, complaining that the “new code has never been presented to the student body for discussion and acceptance and is technically only the responsibility of those students who have entered the school since it was adopted.”45
Though Wilkinson’s November revisions to the honor code did not yet formalize “dress standards,” he continued in 1968 to call attention to student dress regulations and to move toward their institutionalization. In response to his continued reliance on the church’s For the Strength of Youth, one student challenged: “When did neckties and short hair become the fullest expressions of western civilization?”46 In March Wilkinson launched what was perhaps his most notorious—and most resisted—dress standards campaign. The Daily Universe quoted the guidelines from For the Strength of Youth: “skirts should be long enough to cover the kneecap.”47 Wilkinson then called attention to the stricter language by requiring Wilkinson Center employees to distribute handouts with the slogan “Pardon Me” on the front to female students whose skirts were too short. “In order to spare you embarrassment,” the 8 1/2 by-3-inch pamphlet informed violators, “we give you this folder to remind and inform you of dress standards at BYU because we [p.135]do not want you to feel out of place on our campus. If you are a student this will renew the dress standards you agreed to accept when you registered.” The handout instructed women not to wear skirts above the knee, pant dresses, shorts, slacks, “pedal pushers,” sweat shirts, bare feet, or culottes (unless they were dress length). Men were informed they should not wear sandals without socks, sweat shirts, cut-offs, bermuda shorts, gym clothes, or bare feet.
Students responded with immediate resistance. Women, the Universe reported, competed for clever comebacks to “Pardon Me” distributors, including “Does your wife realize you’re doing this?” “Masher!” “Jealous?” and “You know what you can do with that.”48 Another Universe article explained that the campaign had been engineered by the administration of the Wilkinson Center, although the brochures carried the name of the student government’s dress standards committee. The Wilkinson Center’s business manager, though, noted that the center had taken the project out from under student government supervision because the student group “was not doing a good job” enforcing standards.49 The Universe proved to be one of the program’s most vocal critics. The paper printed clip-and-save coupons for students to hand back to campaign administrators: “You’re Not Pardoned.”50 An editorial a few days later claimed “‘Pardon Me’ Not Valid” because, though the student dress committee had ostensibly approved the pamphlet for publication, it had not authored it. The same day student body president Paul Gilbert announced that new copies of For the Strength of Youth had arrived from Salt Lake City and now included the more general recommendation that dresses be of “modest length.” The article noted that female students had been turned away from a Friday night dance and from using the Wilkinson Center’s elevators on Saturday for wearing skirts that were too short. Gilbert said the new church pamphlets would supersede the “Pardon Me” campaign, and that no more “Pardon Me” brochures would be distributed.51
In March 1968 Wilkinson moved forward with his plan to tighten admission standards based on prospective students’ attitudes toward the LDS church. In preparation for fall admissions, he sent bishops a letter explaining a new confidential form to assess applicants’ moral character. The impetus for the new recommendation form, he said, was the board’s recent decision to cap enrollment at 20,000. “[I]t would be unfair to admit a student,” Wilkinson wrote,
who does not observe the proper moral and spiritual standards, even though he has a high academic record, for, with our limited enrollment, this would probably mean the exclusion of a student who does live the proper standards, but whose scholastic qualifications may not be quite as high. In this troubled world we believe that character is even more important than scholarship, although at the BYU we require both and want to [p.136]accommodate just as many of our fine young men and women as our facilities admit.
In response to criticisms that such a recommendation violated “the confidential nature of a bishop’s relationship with his ward members,” Wilkinson said that “an instance where there has been a confession and repentance” need not be reported. In keeping with this claim, two of the recommendation questions (regarding the Word of Wisdom and sexual morality) asked only about “unresolved” problems. Other questions, though, asked for any knowledge of infractions on the applicant’s part, suggesting where Wilkinson’s deepest concerns probably lay: drugs and narcotics, acts of civil disobedience, and violation of “the laws of the land,” in particular. The form also asked bishops to read and discuss the honor code with applicants and to assess their attitude toward keeping it.52
In April campus attention returned again to Wilkinson’s anti-drug measures when some of the students suspended earlier in the semester were found not guilty of drug possession in court. According to Wilkinson, they would not, however, be readmitted, since he still considered their arrests in themselves a sign that they had violated the honor code.53
Later that month the controversy surrounding Wilkinson’s revisions of the honor code resumed when the new code was printed in the 1968-70 course catalogue. That the code was included without having been submitted to students for approval infuriated some student government officials. The Universe protested in a cautious editorial: “Although we don’t believe it is the case,” editors wrote, “it looks like the Administration is trying to put something over on the student body.”54 In an article the next day, Student Honor Council chair Tag Taggart explained that “the code in the ’68-’70 Catalogue of Courses is the one we’re being held responsible for. I must emphasize, though,” he added, “that it’s not because that’s what the Student Honor Council wants, but rather because that’s what the Administration decided.” Taggart added that the new code had not been put to a vote because the Student Honor Council was opposed to the revisions and had been attempting to reach a compromise with the administration. A Universe columnist also reported that Taggart said he “feels like the administration is using the code as a means to punish students, rather than as a vehicle to improve students. … Possibly one of the biggest offenders is the Office of Standards, which has frequently violated students’ rights along with its own professional integrity. How? It is a well known fact that, although a student is told upon entering the Office of Standards that what he says is confidential, this often ain’t what happens.”55 For the most part the code paralleled Wilkinson’s November 1967 revisions, with a few notable exceptions. A lengthy preamble noted that “[w]e believe in being an ensign of proper conduct to the entire world,” which required a clear set of expectations based on [p.137]“Church standards.” The phrase “high moral standards” from previous incarnations of the code had been changed to “virtue and sexual purity.”
As controversy continued, Wilkinson raised students’ ire again in May when he announced that university housing contracts for the coming year would include a new provision. Where contracts had previously allowed the school the “right of entry to student rooms for purposes of inspection or repairs,” the proposed change read: “In cases in which the university has reasonable cause, to believe that personal properties of materials which are prohibited on campus are located in apartments or other housing facilities [the University retains the right to] enter without a warrant for the purpose of searching the apartment and seizing any such personal properties or materials.”56
Again the Universe resisted administrative action. “We feel such a provision,” its editors declared, “is an unprecedented and absolutely unnecessary encroachment upon the student’s right to privacy, as guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution … [and] urge the University Housing authority to eliminate this clause from the new contracts.”57 In response, Wilkinson told a Universe reporter the next week that “[i]f anyone can give us a Supreme Court decision indicating this is unconstitutional, we’ll reconsider our decision …. This is not a public institution—it’s a private school We want students to know in advance that the University has this right. “We do not want this university to become inundated with drugs as some universities have. This change has been made out of an abundance of caution to preserve BYU standards.”58
Wilkinson wrote in his diary that the proposed clause was also eliciting a negative reaction among some faculty and even board members. Political science professor Louis Midgley, Wilkinson noted, was encouraging student body officers to pass a resolution against the provision. The move failed, but when Wilkinson raised the issue at a board meeting in early June, Apostle Harold B. Lee asked about the student council resolution. Wilkinson responded that it had not passed, but Lee said that “it didn’t make any difference whether it passed or not”; Wilkinson took that to mean Lee disapproved of the proposed change. After a half-hour discussion in which Wilkinson felt he was losing ground, he told the church leaders that “if they would prefer this not to be put into the lease, we would be happy to know it.” They responded, he wrote, that they “were somewhat afraid that it might cause litigation and suggested that we do not do it.”59 The minutes to June’s meeting of the board of trustees confirm this.60
The housing contract controversy was not the only place Wilkinson found himself compromised that month. Resistance from the student honor council to the honor code in the new course catalogue was• so acute that Dean Cameron formed a committee of himself, four other administrators, and six students to draft a new “BYU Code of Student Conduct,” adopted on 21 May 1968. The result, though, was hardly the setback Wilkin[p.138]son experienced at his board of trustees meeting that June. Rather, the new set was the most rigorous and detailed in the university’s history, containing fifteen requirements, the violation of any of which could result in “expulsion or suspension.” The punishable violations were:
• Failure to live the high moral standards of the Church … including observance of the law of chastity;
• Dishonesty, including cheating, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information;
• Forgery, [or] … altercation … of University … records;
• Obstruction or disruption of … University activities;
• Physical abuse;
• Unauthorized entry;
• Violation of University policies concerning … student organizations;
• Use, possession or distribution of narcotic or other dangerous drugs;
• Violation of rules governing residence in University-owned housing;
• Disorderly, lewd, indecent, obscene or otherwise illegal or immoral conduct;
• Failure to comply with directions of University officials;
• Failure to adhere to University standards of dress; and
• Use of tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages, or tobacco in any form.
The statement also included a provision that “The President of the University may clarity any disciplinary policy by publishing and announcing such clarification to the student body.”
As the fall 1968 semester approached, the Universe reported on the acceptance of the new code, which generated discussion well into the fall. Another change, announced in September, was the re-naming of the Office of University Standards as the Office of Student Special Services. (The new name never caught on, though, and within a matter of weeks all relevant documents resumed calling the office “University Standards.”) In addition, the Universe reported that a Student Conduct Appeals Committee had been formed and included four faculty members and two students.61
In response to the changes, Brian Zemp, who had succeeded Tag Taggart as chair of the ASBYU Honor Council, lamented, “There is no longer an Honor Code at BYU.” Zemp emphasized, however, that the new code eliminated one of the most controversial of Wilkinson’s earlier revisions: an injunction for students to “take appropriate action if a violation of the Honor Code is observed”—meaning, as many understood it, that students were supposed to turn each other in if they were aware of inappropriate behavior.62
In response to Zemp’s suggestion that BYU no longer had an honor  code, Cameron issued a statement within a few days explaining that while “[i]t is true that the old Honor Code has been replaced by [a] Code of Student Conduct which student officers and faculty members helped to draft,” students should realize that the “new Code of Student Conduct, however, replaces and becomes an honor code because each student who enrolls at the University agrees to abide by this Code of Student Conduct.” Further, he argued, the “statement which appears on the application for admission stated that students will take appropriate action when they observe a violation of the code. This appropriate action has traditionally meant that students would report violations of the code.”63
Student officials were not the only ones to see the shift from a student-governed to a university-administrated code as significant. “When students cannot control and govern their own code,” wrote geology professor Jess Bushman, “there is no point in calling it a Student Honor Code. Therefore, there is no longer a Student Honor Code at BYU …. Personally,” he continued, “I feel deeply ashamed for BYU because there was not enough faith in the integrity of the students to allow them to manage their own honor program.”64
In addition to the inclusion of a specific proscription against illegal narcotics, one of the most noticeable features of the new Code of Student Conduct was that it incorporated for the first time ever language regarding “dress standards,” These standards had themselves continued to be a source of student and administrative concern following the previous spring’s “Pardon Me” fiasco.
The most widely debated dress-and-grooming topic in the fall of 1968 regarded beards on men, which Wilkinson was coming to identify (along with what he considered general sloppiness) with the countercultural element on other campuses and at the center of the anti-war movement. In August Wilkinson had written a letter to parents of entering freshmen that broached, in part, the issue of facial hair for male students. “While there can be no objection to a properly trimmed mustache—and there is surely nothing morally wrong with wearing a beard,” he wrote, “we would prefer our young men to be clean-shaven and to keep their hair cut. We are living in an age,” he added, “when shaving is so convenient that there is no need to imitate our grandfathers’ facial foliage.” Noting that the school had received criticism the previous year for the appearance of some bearded students, he added: “At this institution we must resist even the appearance, not only of evil, but also of the emulation of undesirable contemporary characters. We suggest that being clean shaven and having your hair properly cut is not too great a price for you to pay to further the reputation of this studentbody.”65 Wilkinson repeated the advice in his opening address to students.66 The discouragement of beards would likely have raised a larger protest among students if the Associated Press had not misreported Wilkinson’s letter to parents as an outright ban on beards. Wary of the bad press such a story was [p.140]sure to generate, trustees quickly authorized a press release to clarify that Wilkinson’s advice was not binding and that neatly trimmed beards were permissible. At the same meeting of the board, however, Wilkinson received instructions from church leaders to continue his campaign to eliminate mini-skirts and to encourage male students to remain clean-shaven and keep their hair short.67
The clarification that beards were not forbidden, and that Wilkinson’s attempted discouragement had been advisory and not binding, freed students to grow beards. In fact, on 4 October the Universe observed that “since the administration’s statement that beards are permissible, if neatly kept, more and more whiskers have appeared on campus.”68 A few days earlier a front-page photograph in the Universe of three bearded professors so irked Wilkinson that he instructed them to shave.69 Following the incident, reports began to surface that bearded students were being called into University Standards and strongly encouraged to shave.70 By the end of November, administrators had voted to make long hair a punishable offense for male students.71
In February 1969 Wilkinson happily recorded that campus stake presidents and bishops were beginning to come around to his vision of rooting out problem students and eliminating the use of BYU as a reformatory. He had entreated their cooperation “in particular methods of eliminating students who do not fit into the culture of BYU so that those [who] would get into it might be admitted to the institution.”72 In a talk delivered in April to the same body only a hint of anxiety remained surrounding his request for information from bishops about prospective and current students: “the only matter that is strictly confidential between a bishop and a member of his ward,” he told them, “is a confession …. All other knowledge that you have can, with propriety, be shared with us.”73
While he felt more confident in enlisting the help of local church leaders, he continued to pursue individual cases with characteristic vigilance. At a swimming meet in February, for example, the attentive president noticed “two fellows with long, shaggy hair and otherwise unkempt appearances” who, when they became aware of Wilkinson, “started poking fun in my direction.” He had “the person at the door get their names,” then sent them to Dean Cameron with a request that he look into their backgrounds, academic performance, and church activity before they met the next week. Cameron’s copy of the memo is covered with the information he retrieved over the next several days: both students were from “Berkly [sic], Calif.,” he noted, and both were LDS. One was a “questionable scholar—should have been on probation.” He reported their GPAs, their addresses, their bishop’s name, and comments from others who lived or had lived with them: a former roommate, for example, moved out of their apartment, citing an “unwholesome atmosphere.”74
Nationwide, the spring of 1969 was one of unprecedented campus [p.141]upheaval: 300 American colleges and universities that season—witnessed “sizable demonstrations,” according to one historian of the era, “a quarter of them marked by strikes or building takeovers, a quarter more by disruption of classes and administration, a fifth accompanied by bombs, arson, or the trashing of property.” Campus unrest was a particular fixation of the national media, paralleling daily reports from Vietnam. “Rare was the day,” the same historian writes, “when the major newspapers failed to devote at least an entire page to tracking its fever chart.”75 In this context Wilkinson and BYU were to some degree celebrated among the conservative establishment. (In July 1970, for example, he would address conservative business, government, and educational leaders at the annual Bohemian Club retreat in San Francisco, and be introduced as the man whose campus had not seen a single demonstration.76) In May 1969 Wilkinson must have felt some sense of gratification when the Chicago Tribune editorialized that “it is refreshing to take a look at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah … [where the] students are clean-cut. The hippie look is almost non-existent. Students stand when the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ is played. The ROTC is respected and growing.” Discipline was upheld without protest, the paper continued, suggesting “a respect for authority and tradition that is rapidly disappearing at other institutions with vastly more years behind them.”77 Earlier in the year U.S. News and World Report had made a similar assessment.78
Despite such glowing reports from sources he admired, Wilkinson still found among trustees some resistance to his hard-line approach. In April he recorded that the board’s executive committee was “torn between themselves as to whether we should be somewhat lenient of the conduct of the students or whether we should be more severe.” While he felt confident that he and the board agreed on the standards under consideration, “the application,” he wrote, “is always more difficult than the formulation of the policy.”79 He recorded a similar frustration the following month at the apparent contradiction in holding BYU up as a model for church behavior, while leaders held back from refusing temple attendance to church members whose appearance did not accord with the standards required at the university—particularly regarding hair length for men.80
As he prepared for battle the following fall, Wilkinson attended to legal details. Writing in May to Dean Cameron he noted that there “will be some students who will vigorously resent that they cannot return to the campus” and that the school’s legal research needed to be thorough in preparation “so that we will be completely protected.”81 Later in the month, a letter of complaint from a parent whose daughter had bemoaned the school’s “lack of enforcement of standards” prompted Wilkinson to write Cameron again: “As soon as we get through graduation,” he mused, “I think we need to outline our program for next year. I am sure we have got to tighten up on our dress standards[.]” Part of his concern stemmed from his perception that some students felt that the new code had been imposed on them. “I ap[p.142]proved the Code of Conduct,” he wrote, “and while it was in a sense approved by the students”—since students had been present on the committee that drafted it—”the students do not feel it was a Student Code and I think we should take some action to let them know that they are in on it.”82
That summer Cameron reported back to Wilkinson on their efforts to receive lists of questionable students from campus bishops. A total of 137 names had been collected, some of whom Cameron had already investigated. Those with whom no contact had been made had their records “tagged” prior to fall registration, and Cameron was preparing, he said, to send them all letters requesting to meet them before they returned to school. Of the students already contacted, Cameron said, “many … are find [sic] young men and women,” and only seven had been “counseled out of school.” In some cases students had merely been attending other wards and had been reported inactive. “[S]ome of the bishops,” he complained, “presented information which led me to believe that in some cases they were asking the University to follow through on their failure to activate” certain students.83 As the summer wore on, some differences apparently began to surface between Wilkinson, who considered the list to be of “students who… should not return to the University,” and Cameron, who wrote the president that he had “contacted numerous of these students, and to this point have not found any who in my opinion should not be given an opportunity to continue.” Possibly seeking to console Wilkinson, he added: “Perhaps future contacts will reveal some.”84
Wilkinson continued to take considerable interest in the search for problem students. In July, when the report on the bishops’ lists had been assembled, Wilkinson was annoyed to find that one campus stake had not submitted any reports. After inquiring of the stake president, Wilkinson learned that this particular stake had worked with sixty students who had “serious problems,” but that the stake’s approach was “to convince them of the personal benefits which would occur to them from observing the standards of the University.”85 As a result, the stake president reported, seven students had elected to leave the university, and all but four of the remaining number had modified their behavior to the extent that the bishops had felt no need to submit their names to the university. He said that four names, then, had been turned over to Cameron. Wilkinson followed up on this report by asking Cameron for the four names. Cameron reported that he had not kept the names since the “bishops had indicated they would handle these” cases, and that he “assumed that the bishops were able to extract the commitment to activity.” While Wilkinson’s response to Cameron’s reply is unknown, his general approach is worth noting, particularly his attention to individual cases and his unwillingness to believe that a stake could have no students meriting discipline.86
That summer Wilkinson wrote in his annual letter to parents that part of the “difference between student conduct at BYU and that of activists at other [p.143]universities” is that “attendance at BYU is a privilege and not a right” (emphasis in original). For the coming school year, he told parents, the university had turned away 2,000 applicants, “and it would be unfair,” he added, “to reject them but admit others who did not abide by our standards.” In addition to obedience to the law—by which Wilkinson meant the failure to participate in protests or demonstrations—the president saw, as the most compelling measure of “university standards,” adherence to dress and grooming standards. As he had in the past, he cited appropriate passages from For the Strength of Youth. For the first time, though, Wilkinson went past the guidelines in the pamphlet to ban long hair and beards for men. “Although in the matter of dress the world is becoming more lax,” he wrote, “we intend at BYU to maintain vigorous standards” in part because “our students have gained a great reputation for being clean, modestly dressed, good-looking young men and women,” and “the appearance of even one person on our campus who deviates from our standards in dress or appearance impairs our reputation.” BYU standards, he also said, were set because “our students are expected to set the proper examples for the entire Church.” Just as missionaries were not allowed to wear long hair or beards, he wrote, BYU students, as models of Mormonism to the entire world, “have the obligation to represent the Church in the most favorable manner.”87
Cameron cited nearly the entire letter to parents in his own letter to students that summer. In addition he included a copy of the new, 15-point Code of Student Conduct. “Every student should understand that his right to register or to continue at BYU,” he wrote, “will be contingent upon his strict observance of all University rules and regulations.” When students arrived in September for registration, they were greeted by a headline in the Daily Universe reminding them that regulations had tightened once again: “Administration to Get Tough on Standards.”88 Evidence of the new measures as present in the form of “spotters,” who scanned registration lines for beards or long hair on men, or high hem lines on women. The Associated Press reported that “[s]cores of students ran afoul” of the guidelines, and that violators were interviewed before being allowed to register. “All but one of the many we interviewed agreed to reexamine their personal commitments,” Assistant Dean of Students LaVar Rockwood told the A.P.89 Later that fall Dean of Women Lucile Petty reported to Wilkinson that at the fall registration 201 female students had been interviewed regarding dress length.90
By October, according to the minutes of the Dress Standards Committee, there were reportedly only two beards on campus—one attributed to (non-Mormon) religious beliefs, the second to skin problems. At the same meeting committee members reviewed the results of an informal survey administered by history professor Richard Poll to almost 1,700 students, which found about 80 percent of students favorable or very favorable to the dress standards, and only 11 percent unfavorable or very unfavorable.91
Staying the Course: Wilkinson’s Last Stand
Still, at least one member of the board of trustees continued to press Wilkinson for a more positive approach. In “one of our meetings,” wrote apostle Delbert L. Stapley regarding Wilkinson’s summer letter to parents, it “was the feeling that a positive position should be taken, and instead of threatening students, appeal to their sense of modesty and decency. As you know,” he added, ‘Joseph Smith said that people should be taught correct principles and then govern themselves.” Stapley also requested that Wilkinson hold to the “approved” language of the church’s For the Strength of Youth regarding dress lengths rather than specifying lengths by their relation to the kneecap.92
For half a decade the church pamphlet had been a thorn in Wilkinson’s side. All editions of the pamphlet carried a statement that “modesty cannot be determined by inches or fit since that which looks modest on one person may not be so on another.” Early editions, though, had gone on to explain that, according to church standards, “Skirts should be long enough to cover the knee cap.” But the most recent editions, to the president’s chagrin, noted only that “[ s ]kirts and dresses should be of modest length.” As skirt lengths continued to be a problem, some of Wilkinson’s advisors, Dean of Women Lucile Petty in particular, felt that the school could not enforce a consistent standard without a firm position on what constituted a “proper dress length.”93
In early January 1970 Wilkinson set out to resolve the issue once and for all. Writing to deans Cameron and Petty shortly after the new year began, Wilkinson identified For the Strength of Youth as a major stumbling block to setting a firm policy. The difficulty he saw was in trying to enforce a stricter standard at BYU than church leaders had set forth “to govern the entire Church.” His recommendation to Cameron and Petty was that, in keeping with the current language in For the Strength of Youth, they not insist that dresses cover the kneecaps, but that they set a strict regulation that “dresses be no shorter than just above the knee. Indeed,” Wilkinson added, “with some of the more plump girls even that is not modest.”
For Wilkinson the issue was important in part because “one becomes quickly accustomed to seeing girls go around with dresses much above the knees” and because “there is a human sex tendency for men to like this style.” In addition, he received constant pressure “from girls who do adhere to our standards about the other girls who do not.” Reviewing the brief history of his attempts to eliminate miniskirts from campus, Wilkinson also pointed out that the board had advised administrators (though never through “formal resolutions,” he noted) that standards should be upheld “by means of persuasion … but that if after persuasion they did not conform, we have the right to suspend them from the Institution.” Suspension, he said, would be meted out on three grounds: first, that the guilty were violating standards; second, that they were violating their pledge to uphold [p.145]these standards upon entering school; and third, that a violation also constituted an “attitude [that] is improper.”
His plan was simple: stage the same kind of policing of styles at second semester registration that the deans had supervised the previous fall. Those students who were initially turned away but chose eventually to conform, he said, should be warned that one more violation would warrant their suspension. Anyone who responds in an “impudent” manner “should be suspended.” Wilkinson told Cameron and Petty that he had attempted to get a letter from the First Presidency on the issue but “under the present circumstances”—referring to the incapacitation of church president David O. McKay—such an attempt might not be fruitful. At the very least he thought a letter from himself to the students, printed in the Universe, would serve to remind students of tightened standards.94
In a meeting with trustees a few days later, Wilkinson reported that 79 men and 201 women had been prevented from registering due to dress and grooming standards violations. All but three of the students chose to comply and stay in school. Wilkinson also complained about the “liberalization” of For the Strength of Youth and was informed by Apostle Stapley that a new statement from the church would recommend the “covering of the body from the shoulders down to the knees.” Wilkinson said such a statement would be helpful in his campaign to prevent miniskirts from appearing on campus. He also assured the board that he was attempting “persuasion” as a strategy for enforcement, but that “in cases of defiance [the school] intended to suspend the girls unless instructed otherwise.” Church leaders approved.95
Wilkinson met with Stapley and another apostle, N. Eldon Tanner, in mid-January the next year “to get their support with respect to standards of dress at the BYU-that is, that dresses should be to the knee. They both promised their support,” he recorded, but added that “in the present chaotic condition at Salt Lake City”—again President McKay’s continued deterioration, presumably—”one does not know what to expect.”96
A few days later Wilkinson confided to his diary that he was frustrated by what he saw as a lack of support from his administrative staff on this issue. Although the administration had been working “for over a week” on a statement to students setting a specific length for dresses, he left the matter in the hands of three key administrators only to be “shocked,” a few days later, to find that the statement they prepared contained no specific limitations.97
The letter from Cameron to students subscribed to “persuasion” rather than threats. The standards he outlined included: “Being clean and well groomed; Avoiding the wearing of mini-skirts, which means that skirts and dresses should be of modest length, and they should not be too tight fitting; Avoiding long hair, beard and grubby appearance.” Cameron’s statement that administrators ‘‘have purposely avoided setting specific mathematical measurements for dress and grooming” was likely part of what had “shocked” Wilkinson, who had worked for months to establish a specific [p.146]standard. Rather than set an exact length, Cameron stressed to students that their compliance was a matter of honor and consideration for church members who would, if allowed to attend the school, willingly submit to the dress codes. “If you are one who chooses not to comply with BYU standards,” he concluded, “we ask you not to register next semester.”98
At registration in February 1970, Lucile Petty and LaVar Rockwood again assumed their roles as dress monitors. The Universe reported that they interviewed nearly 100 students who were not allowed to finalize registration until they demonstrated compliance.99 The Universe also reported that a public relations subcommittee of the school’s dance committee had organized to police standards at school dances. A handful of students, according to the article, would “circulate among those attending the dance until they find a girl whose dress is visibly shorter than average,” and then invite her to leave. The standard for “boys” would be neatness rather than conforming to an average length.100
The Universe editorial staff responded to the administration’s continued efforts with a sarcasm characteristic of this period (though the paper’s editor was forced to resign the same month; see chap. 3). The in-house editorial decried the evils of the “maxi-coat,” which was being used by subversive coeds to conceal their “mini-skirts” as part of “an effort to undermine the very fabric of our civilization.” “We, the studentbody,” editors wrote, in language that parodied the university president, “must unite in combating this festering sore on our campus. We must eradicate this evil from our boundaries and be a shining example unto the world.”101
Resistance persisted from individuals, as well. An assistant professor of Spanish wrote to the Universe that the “intolerance toward beards at BYU is intolerable.” Claiming the right to wear a beard as part of his “patrimony from God, as a male, as one of his sons,” the junior faculty member accused the administration’s standards watchdogs of being “scribes and pharisees” who maintained “whited sepulchres.”102 When Wilkinson noticed individual students on campus in violation of codes, though, he continued to confront them personally. In March he wrote Dean Petty that he had followed a female student in a miniskirt into the administration building. “I would be safe in saying that [her skirt] was at least six inches” above the knee, he wrote. He asked her name, and when she hesitated, he told her he wanted her to report to the dean of women’s office, because “she knew as well as anyone else that her dress did not conform to University Standards.” Wilkinson added that the “disgusting thing was that she didn’t have anything to show except some stilts.”103
Deans Petty and Cameron warned in a Daily Universe interview in March that first-time dress standards violators (all of whom were presumed to be “girls”) would be interviewed by Petty. Second-timers would receive a warning of suspension, and a third-time violator would face suspension for a set period of time. Cameron stated that “No one is ever going to be expelled for [p.147]dress standards,” but added that the term “suspension” leaves the option open to the student to attend another school Further, Cameron and Petty agreed, a third violation would indicate, in addition to a dress code violation, a lack of “personal honor and integrity” that might require disciplinary action.104
In April the Young Democrats (whose presence on campus irritated Wilkinson anyway) hosted a question-and-answer session on dress standards that included deans Cameron and Petty as well as Gary Carver, head of the Standards Office. The panel fielded questions on the rationale behind several parts of the dress policies. Asked about the prohibition of women’s pants, Petty said church leaders had endorsed For the Strength of Youth, which discouraged Mormon women from wearing pants in most public settings. “I wasn’t on the committee which compiled this [pamphlet],” she said, “and I don’t know why [the proscription was included, but] it’s my business to enforce the rules.” Carver added that he was “working to find a rationale” for some of the standards with which he was personally uncomfortable, but added that he had to accept them in the meantime. Cameron said his own rationale did not matter, since “the Church leaders’ saying it is all that is necessary,” though when pressed he conceded that “many things which happen on this campus are not done by divine authority.” Cameron also said he felt BYU’s standards were “higher” than the church’s, but when some students objected he agreed that “stricter” might be a better word.105
Later that month Associate Dean of Students LaVar Rockwood informed Cameron that, at his request, a committee that included Rockwood, Petty, Gary Carver, and two others had drafted a “specific statement on dress and grooming standards.” The committee’s main recommendation was that the school no longer use language that suggests or advises, but treat standards as requirements. “I am convinced,” he told Cameron, “that it will be impossible to enforce standards unless the students are informed as to specifically what is expected.” In order to do so, Rockwood suggested a massive public relations campaign to inform students, faculty, and university personnel of the new regulations. Faculty, in particular, must be persuaded to help enforce the standards, he wrote. “Some facuIty are going to be very upset about this kind of strict enforcement,” he added. “It is my guess they will not participate. Many of them would rather resign than be required to enforce or deny admission to classrooms.”106
The proposed statement, however, did not receive approval, perhaps because trustees still could not agree on how to approach the issue of regulations and enforcement. In the meantime, Wilkinson, who continued to receive complaints from students, parents, and local church leaders that the school was not strict enough, began to feel even greater urgency to remove violators from campus. In May, Petty informed Wilkinson that thirty-three female students had been placed on a year’s probation for dress code infractions.107 Wilkinson approved heartily. “We must be [p.148]unusually vigilant from the very first day of school,” he wrote to Petty and Cameron, “both for this summer and for next fall in enforcing these standards.” He also gave academic administrators “the urgent request that they immediately formulate some program of support from the faculty so that next year everyone will be supportive of this program right from the start of summer school and from the start of fall term.”108 When the student body president—more critical of Wilkinson than some others had been—heard of the plans, he fired the president a protest letter: “If the introduction of these arbitrary specifics is an attempt to remove ‘radical’ elements from campus, I think that it is ill-founded.”109
Over the summer administrators continued to compile lists of students who should be monitored or whose registration materials should be “tagged” to prevent them from starting school in the fall without having been interviewed about their attitudes toward dress standards. (One such list, sent from LaVar Rockwood to Gary Carver, included a grandson of a church apostle.110) At the beginning of fall semester the Daily Universe, having undergone a change in editors, argued that an enrollment cap meant “we do not think that it is proper for us to allow students who do not participate either in our church activities or avail themselves of other great opportunities on this campus, to remain at BYU.” The article noted that BYU has “exit as well as admissions standards.”111
By that fall Wilkinson had submitted his resignation, though he would not leave office until the middle of the next year. Following the death that year of church president David O. McKay, Wilkinson felt that support from ranking church leaders—particularly Elder Harold B. Lee—would probably diminish.112 A September announcement on “Grooming and Dress Standards for Young Men and Women of the Church,” printed in the church’s Priesthood Bulletin, for example, included the more “liberalized” language of “modesty” and “free agency” rather than the shoulders-to-knees regulations that Wilkinson had worked for and even had been promised by some apostles.113
Before he left office, Wilkinson still hoped to see BYU put its dress and grooming guidelines on paper, and for him the issue still carried political significance and near-apocalyptic urgency. In February 1971 a Gallup poll showed that 54 percent of American male college students wore their hair in what could be considered “long” styles (though only 7 percent wore it “to or below the shoulder”). The other 45 percent wore what could be considered “traditional” short cuts. The poll also confirmed Wilkinson’s long-held suspicions that an association existed between long hair and leftist politics.114
In keeping with national trends, BYU witnessed a vast increase in the number of dress and grooming violations—especially in men’s hair length during the 1970-71 school year. In September University Standards interviewed 682 registering students—405 women and 277 men—regarding their [p.149]appearance. Following second semester registration in February 1971, at which administrators employed a panel of students to identify violators, the Universe reported that nearly 1,200 students, mostly men, had their records tagged and were later sent letters from college deans informing them of the infraction and requesting compliance.115 In one such letter, sent from biological and agricultural sciences dean Lester Allen, an offending student was warned that “[ d]eviations of dress and grooming tend to give the impression of alliance with those bizarre groups of students whose misdirected ideals would lead them to destroy our universities and even our society.” As an example, the dean continued: “One of our fine students, of lofty ideals, could see no reason why he should not groom himself after the fashion of the day until he was approached by one selling pot. He was shocked and asked why he should be identified as a potential buyer of marijuana. He was told: ‘Man, you give me the cues.’ If you wear the coat of the enemy you can get shot,” Allen said.116
Students were not the only ones to come under fire. In February Academic Vice President Robert K. Thomas informed Wilkinson that a member of the English department, who Thomas called “one of our most skillful teachers over a number of years,” had been terminated for failing to comply with dress and grooming standards. “While we are not giving much publicity to this,” Thomas wrote to Wilkinson, “since asking a man to resign because of the length of his hair would give some of our enemies a field day, I wanted you to know how seriously we have really taken your desire to have BYU exemplary in Dress and Grooming Standards.” Still, he told the president, “[d]ismissing [him] has been painful. I really do not know a more creative or more stimulating teacher in the whole University.”117
A BYU Survey Research Center study conducted in March revealed that almost 40 percent of the students violated dress and grooming standards in some way, and that over 85 percent did so knowingly.118 Perhaps in response, Wilkinson proposed to the board of trustees that the Code of Student Conduct he had helped create be abandoned and replaced by a legal contract with students that made the university’s expectations clear and legally defensible. The board rejected the idea.119 The following month the administration moved ahead in other ways to maintain standards. They announced that beginning with the upcoming spring term, students whose registration packets were tagged would be monitored by teachers who would report back to the Standards Office if the student had complied.120
At the same time this committee was exploring new ways to enforce dress codes, the executive committee of the board of trustees suggested to Wilkinson that women’s dress standards be loosened to include pant suits but to exclude “levis and slacks.” On further consideration, they agreed to allow pant suits and slacks, but to exclude jeans, effective the following school year.121 Perhaps in an attempt not to lose ground, as the month of April drew to a close Wilkinson conferred with administrators on the Com-[p.150]mittee on Dress Standards, who “consented,” he wrote, “to my giving a statement at Devotional to the effect that we were going to be more severe on violators of our dress standards.” Such a measure would be, Wilkinson thought, a last stand of sorts. “I am cognizant of the fact that this committee,” he wrote, “would much prefer that we wouldn’t do this but handle this merely by love and persuasion. I am, however, conscious of the fact that we have not been successful in doing it that way.”122
Wilkinson’s statement was forceful. “Heretofore we have had a general policy,” he announced, by first warning a student, then placing him or her on probation, then taking the final measure of suspension. “Hereafter,” he said, “there will be no warning given to those who violate these standards. By registering they have already agreed to abide by the standards and thus have already been warned as to what the rules are …. The Dean of Students and his staff are given the authority, without any further warning of any kind, to suspend students who violate our standards, even for a first aggravated offense.” He added:
[W]e have found out through some careful checking we have been doing, that those who violate dress standards are often those who are traffic violators; that very often they are those who are short on church attendance; often also they are those who have poor academic records; and finally we find that many of these who offend in these various particulars are those who fail, contrary to our regulations, to keep the University informed of their current addresses. From now on all these various items will be taken into consideration in judging whether students should be suspended, and a combination of violations in these various areas will certainly justify immediate suspension …. I should further add that students who are not taking advantage of the unusual privileges of this Institution, such as regular attendance at Church, will be advised not to return next year. We deem it entirely unfair to permit those students to register at this Institution and at the same time exclude other students that would be very happy to come here and abide by all of the standards of this Institution.123
Wilkinson’s speech kept the campus abuzz for a few weeks. “If [the same] emphasis that has been placed on dress standards [were] placed on academics,” wrote one student to the Universe, BYU would “be on its way in becoming a great university.”124 Other students relayed rumors that as many as fifty people had been suspended immediately following Wilkinson’s speech. The Universe denied the story a week later, though Wilkinson, in another follow-up article, said that “some”—though not fifty—“have been suspended.”125
Dallin H. Oaks: A Style of Our Own” and the Unisex Threat
To students accustomed to seeing the diminutive, seventy-one-year-old “Uncle Ernie” scuttling across campus, always keeping an eye out for [p.151]long-haired men or women in miniskirts, his successor, Dallin H. Oaks—not yet forty—was probably a breath of fresh air. “I am conscious,” he told students as he opened his first fall semester as president, “that you cannot make a great university by lowering hemlines and shaving chins. I have no desire to make the razor and the tape measure symbols of my administration.” Earlier in his speech he had assured students that BYU’s standards regarding hair length and beards (“unlike modesty, which is an eternal value”) were not based on principles of universal truth. “They are responsive,” he said, “to conditions and attitudes in our own society at this particular point in time.” Still, while Oaks tried to deflect attention from the issues that had consumed much of Wilkinson’s later years, he was not about to loosen the specific regulations themselves. “If you intend to ignore or subvert these [dress and grooming] rules,” he told his student audience, “please go somewhere else.”126 Oaks also seemed to contradict Wilkinson’s edict from the previous April that inactivity in the church could result in suspension: “[C]oercive pressure [and threat] of academic standing,” he said, would not be used as “a club to force church attendance.” Still, he supported Wilkinson’s argument that failure to attend church was an “unfair and unwise use of the unique resources of this institution.”127 Typical of Oaks’s strategy of softening Wilkinson’s rhetoric while upholding the regimentation his predecessor had established, the new president decided shortly after taking office to rename the Code of Student Conduct as the Honor Code. Its language was also simplified and clarified.128
As Oaks began his first fall at BYU, he was happy to report to the board of trustees that the number of dress code violators stopped at registration had decreased significantly from previous years, with only 215 students being tagged. Only thirty-four women were reported as being dressed inappropriately, a low number attributed in part to relaxed standards allowing women’s slacks and pant suits.129
The decision to allow women to wear pants, however, coincided with BYU’s first confrontation with modern American feminism (see chap. 2). A major concern during Oaks’s administration became the dress and grooming standards’ function in preserving a gendered distinction between men and women. In the summer of 1972 the university mailed to students a pamphlet titled A Style of Our Own which put a specific set of dress and grooming standards into print for the first time in BYU’s history. Importantly, the pamphlet stressed gender differences: “Our dress and grooming standards have been designed to create visual differences in clothing worn by men and women. These important differences have their origin in God’s eternal plan for men and women.” Oaks had made a similar point when he told students during his opening address the previous fall that, while pants suits were being allowed, women were still not to wear “jeans, men’s trousers, or other slacks from the grubby end of the spectrum.”130 In a list of “problem areas” that circulated early in the Oaks era, women’s hemlines were regulated as needing to [p.152]be “of modest length.” These guidelines went on to explain: “This requires more personal interpretation than any other standard. It is also one of the most important parts of the standard because it is a matter of personal morality. President Spencer W. Kimball has said that immodesty is a contributing factor in the breakdown of moral values.”131 In an address to BYU students in 1974, church president Kimball said that long hair did not necessarily make a man “effeminate, but surely there is some question about it.”132 In 1975, when Oaks was at the height of his resistance to Title IX and BYU’s dress and grooming standards were under examination by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (see chap. 2), the president again affirmed the connection between BYU standards and traditional gender roles: differences between men’s and women’s clothing “are proper expressions of God-given differences in the sexes,” he said. He promised that BYU would not be forced to accept a “unisex standard of appearance.”133
Early in his presidency, Oaks abandoned Wilkinson’s 1971 policy of suspending dress standards violators on their first offense. In April 1972 he reported to trustees that he had modified disciplinary procedures to “give students a fair and representative hearing before any disciplinary actions are taken by the University.”134 He continued to back Wilkinson’s approach of using registration as a time to catch problem students, but Oaks merely warned them that violators would be forced to register late, rather than threatening them with disciplinary action. Some 300 students were required to register late in January 1973, for example. Their teachers received letters within a few weeks asking them to inform University Standards if the students made no improvement.135
Minutes from Oaks’s weekly meetings with administrators show that he remained committed to enforcing dress standards and overseeing even minor exceptions to policies. One student actor, for example, petitioned the school to allow him to wear a beard while he participated in the church’s new temple endowment film; the president’s council denied the request.136 During another meeting administrators reviewed the “many complaints” received by the Daily Universe about the hair length of male models in advertisements.137 The president’s council debated, in 1973, allowing men’s hair to touch or partially cover the ear, reflecting changes in fashion trends, but Oaks killed the idea, arguing that administering such an ambiguous standard would be nearly impossible.138 (The injunction to keep hair above men’s ears and collars persists to the present.) In 1976, when a student requested a waiver of the no-beard requirement due to a medical condition, the request received approval only after the student was interviewed by Oaks and the matter was discussed by the church’s First Presidency.139
Some measures were taken during the Oaks era to maintain a distinction between the Code of Honor and dress and grooming standards in the popular student imagination. Director of University Standards Gerald Dye, for example, warned in a Universe interview just prior to the fall 1973 semes-[p.153]ter that the “most common problem with student behavior at BYU is not dress and grooming, but personal honesty and integrity.”140 Popular religion and ancient studies professor Hugh Nibley, in a jeremiad delivered to a campus audience the same year, declared that
[t]he worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status-symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism. Longhairs, beards, and necklaces, LSD and rock, Big Sur and Woodstock, come and go, but Babylon is always there: rich, respectable, immovable …. We want to be vindicated in our position and to know that the world is on our side as we all join in a chorus of righteous denunciation; the haircut becomes the test of virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances.141
The same concern to emphasize honor in general over the particulars of dress and grooming (although the requirement to abide by dress standards remained in the honor code) may explain Oaks’s hesitation to print the dress and grooming standards with the honor code in the university catalogue until 1978, the first year they were included.
Still the visibility of dress standards adherence or violation continued to make these requirements a central measure of the campus’s willingness to abide the Code of Honor. The two were collapsed, during the decade, under the popular term “university standards.” In the fall of 1976, Gerald Dye reminded students that regulations had not changed “one iota” since Oaks took office. “It all boils down to obedience,” he told the Universe. “Are you and I willing to obey a standard set down by our Prophet, even if we don’t completely understand it?” Dye also reminded students that they were responsible for helping their “neighbor” abide the dress standards, and that, “[a]s a general rule, if you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable with what you’re wearing while talking with one of the general authorities, you’re probably within the spirit of the honor code.” While Dye continued to argue that the “other 11 parts” of the honor code were more important than dress standards, appearances continued to receive the most emphasis and to be used to measure attitudes generally.142
The Oaks era’s most notorious episodes surrounding “standards” also centered around dress and grooming regulations. A few months earlier in 1976, for example, prior to Dye’s warning, a month-long furor arose over a campus concert featuring singer Neil Diamond. Prior to the concert a student wrote to the Universe that Diamond, whose thick, feathered hair “obviously is not [in] keeping [with] the Lord’s standard of grooming,” should not be allowed on campus, since his celebrity status would instill “in many of us a plan to imitate.” Another student (who later admitted he was “poking a little bit of fun,” though the first student said he was being “fairly serious” about the apparent “double standard”) wrote that “seeing the performer in person [p.154]would have a devastating effect on our testimonies.” In response, Diamond poked fun back at BYU’s regulations during the concert: “I’m just beginning to grow it,” he told the crowd of 15,000 as he ran his fingers through his hair. He also said some people “worry too much about what goes on top of someone’s head rather than what goes on inside it.”143
His comments received roars of approval from the crowd, though that reaction in itself prompted angry responses from other students. The Universe reporter covering the concert said the singer had “carried it a little too far,” leaving “a thin layer of ice” over the crowd.144 Three students wrote in a joint letter that it was “obvious … that the whole production was a tactic to win us over. … Mr. Diamond wanted us to love him more than our standards.”145 Another student wrote that he was “appalled” by the crowd’s reaction. “Do those students not comprehend what he said? Do those students believe that our university is more concerned with what our hair looks like than what is in our minds? I think not.”146 Others decried the “holier-than-thou” attitude of these letter-writers, asking BYU students to “grow up.”147 A similar incident in 1980 called attention to a clause in BYU’s entertainment contract that required female performers to wear bras; singer Melissa Manchester told a BYU audience, “Frankly, I would be interested to meet the young man who is going to check!”148
The Diamond incident, which received national attention, was outdone two years later by a female student’s stunt that garnered even wider publicity. Over the course of the 1970s, women’s fashions had changed to accommodate denim slacks that might not be termed “jeans,” and women in denim became a more common sight on campus, especially during cold weather. Standards chief Gerald Dye noted in the mid-1970s a distinction between “blue jeans” and “the more feminine styles commonly worn on campus.”149 The gradual relaxation of campus attitudes toward denim, though, did not prevent some confrontations. In November 1978 a female student, Anita Bryan, wore “nice denim pants” to the on campus testing center. She was turned away at the door for violating the no jeans rule. It was snowing outside, so Bryan went into a restroom, removed the pants, buttoned up her overcoat, and took the test (receiving a passing grade) in her “underpants.” Bewildered by the experience, she told her older brother, a law student, about it, and was advised to write a letter to the Universe, which she did, though she signed it “A. Lavon Bryan.”
The incident immediately received national attention. “There’s something strangely perverse and incongruous about a dress code which demands that a girl dressed in nice denim pants is rejected from a campus facility while a girl in underpants and an overcoat is acceptable,” Bryan wrote in her letter to the editor: “Is it vital that we expose the lower half of our legs?” She also called attention to the gender discrimination implicit in the code’s permission for men to wear denim.150 Gerald Dye told reporters the student sounded “like an extremist.” To one irate church member’s let-[p.155]ter, which called for disciplinary action against Bryan for holding “the university and the Church up to national ridicule,” Oaks responded by “agree[ing] wholeheartedly” but said he feared any action against the student would make “this matter much worse.”151 “We feel very distressed about this event,” Oaks wrote another angry BYU alumnus. “We will take the appropriate action, you can be sure.”152 Bryan, who received dozens of crank telephone calls over the next few weeks, was verbally chastised by Dean Cameron and Gerald Dye, but no formal action was taken against her.153 In a weekly meeting with administrators a month later, Oaks determined that “no further statements on the jeans issue [would be made] at this time.”154
Jeffrey R. Holland: Avoiding Extremes and Introducing Ecclesiastical Endorsements
Perhaps in belated response to the testing center affair, dress standards were modified to allow women’s jeans three years later when Jeffrey Holland, former Commissioner of Church Education, became president of the university. Holland stressed that modesty was more important than the “endless debate as to whether a ‘designer jean’ is also a slack, or whether the fabric is cotton, polyester, or denim, or whether it is colored red, white, or blue.”155 The Office of University Standards under Holland also promoted another slight relaxation in the code, “The Brushed Look for Men,” which allowed neatly brushed hair to cover the top portion of male students’ ears. “Hair that is further down the ear” than on the model pictured in the Standards advertising campaign “is in violation of dress and grooming standards,” students were informed.156 The experiment was short-lived, though, and by the decade’s end “above the ear” was again made the requirement.
Under Holland dress and grooming standards remained a requirement of the honor code. In a Holland-era pamphlet commenting on the code, students were reminded that “[y]ou have agreed to abide by the university Code of Honor, which includes the Dress and Grooming Standards.” While the substance of the regulations remained the same, the code was broken into sections covering “spirituality,” “integrity,” “purity,” and “responsibility,” and couched in language that suggested the code was based on spiritual principles. The last category—responsibility—included the injunction to observe dress and grooming standards. The brochure also perpetuated the Wilkinson adage that “[a]ttendance at Brigham Young University is a privilege, not a right.”
In addition to allowing women to wear jeans and men to sport “the brushed look,” dress and grooming standards under Holland were adjusted in other small ways in response to current trends. Men were told they must wear socks, a requirement often cited by students who complained about standards. (Some students thought the “no-sock” look, a “preppie” fashion in the early 1980s, was a response to administrators’ fears about homosexu-[p.156]ality.157) Explanatory footnotes to the regulations noted that clothing or hairstyles deemed inappropriate for “representative[s] of BYU and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”—meaning students—included “any unusual wearing apparel or physical alteration, such as color or style of hair, which brings undue attention. Earrings and excessive jewelry on men are not in compliance with Dress and Grooming Standards.” Beards were defined as “noticeable growth that is beginning to look ‘grubby.’”
Beards were the subject near the end of 1986 of one of the Holland administration’s most humorous dress standards debacles. When the new student directories arrived that fall, some students noticed that the photograph of BYU’s founding president, Karl G. Maeser, had been airbrushed to remove the stern educator’s beard. Student Review, with the characteristic irreverence that was gaining the magazine popularity—in its first semester, published a “cut and paste” beard so students could restore Maeser’s missing whiskers.158 The incident attracted national press coverage, causing some decision-makers, undoubtedly, to blush. R. Michael Whitaker, director of University Standards, told reporters that the decision had been made to deflect criticism from students who pointed out that previous Mormon generations had enjoyed fuller beard privileges.159
Fearing that some students may not have been as firmly committed to the code of honor as they would have liked, administrators proposed in early 1987 a new policy mandating resident assistants in all off-campus housing complexes, just as they functioned in university dormitories. Students roundly objected. Student Review sponsored a rally in the student center that attracted nearly 300 people. In follow-up editorials the independent weekly continued the discussion, pointing out “unanswered questions” the proposal raised: “Who hires [the assistants]? Trains them? What kind of training? Who do they report to? What do they report? Who will be responsible when they make mistakes? And what is the eventual goal: creating a network of ‘dorms’ without cafeterias?”160 Some students felt that administrators’ “ears were closed” to alternative proposals,161 but after students mounted enough pressure, the administration decided to drop the plan.
Another standards-related policy announced at the same time, though, was more successful. Students learned in February 1987 that, beginning the following fall, they would be required to receive an “ecclesiastical endorsement” from their campus bishops each spring, certifying their “worthiness” to continue at the university. The idea had been circulating for several years, and general authorities had encouraged-but not required-campus bishops to conduct individual interviews with every ward member since at least 1983.162 While some students—and local church leaders—worried about practical implications such as the time required for individual interviews with every student, and whether the necessarily brief interviews could provide enough intimacy to judge reliably a student’s “worthiness,” most students (over 80 percent, according to a Student Review survey) appeared to  agree the policy was appropriate.163 One hesitation expressed by some, however, regarded a clause on the endorsement form that asked students to “help others” live by the honor code. They feared that some “might take it upon themselves to instigate a purging of all undesirable fringe elements from the campus.”164
Rex E. Lee: Examining and Enforcing Standards
In 1990, under Holland’s successor, Rex E. Lee, students were informed that in order to receive their annual ecclesiastical endorsement, they would have to attend church regularly all year. While church attendance had always been encouraged for students, it had not previously been a requirement for continuing student status. (Indeed, as noted above, Dallin Oaks, who said that failure to attend church would be a waste of BYU’s unique environment, had also said that students’ status would never be used coercively to force them to attend church.) In a humorous response to the new requirement, Student Review published a badge to be clipped, colored, and worn to church that read: “I’m here for the endorsement.”165
The decision to attach church attendance to continuing ecclesiastical endorsement was made, President Lee informed the student body in a letter to the Daily Universe, by the board of trustees. In a 15 December 1989 letter to local church leaders from the First Presidency (who also serve as trustees), which Lee cited in his statement to students, the leaders explained that requiring church attendance “will help ensure that students who are active Church members are not excluded through enrollment ceiling while inactive members enjoy the blessings of attending Church schools.” The leaders added, Lee noted, that “no required percentage of attendance has been specified,” but that bishops would ask a question similar to the one they asked members seeking a recommend to the church’s temples: “Have you done and will you continue to do your duty in the Church, attend your meetings, and abide by the rules and standards of the Church?” Lee recalled Oaks’s statement that academic standing would not be used to coerce church attendance, but argued that students who were spiritually prepared to benefit from BYU’s unique environment would cheerfully participate in church activity. “I attach great value to both free choice and the blessings of Church activity,” Lee concluded. “Those values spring ultimately from the same fundamental principles of spiritual growth and we do not now, nor need we ever, choose only one principle or the other.”166
In an eighteen-stake fireside address to students a month later, Apostle Boyd K. Packer followed up on Lee’s letter, placing it, he said, “in the larger setting of a growing church.” Noting that “[c]hurch schools are not only for the academically gifted,” Packer explained that while the church had grown phenomenally in previous decades, the school’s enrollment cap had largely remained the same, making “competition for admission to Church colleges [p.158]and universities … ever more intense.” Church leaders, he said, receive letters from LDS converts across the world begging for a chance to attend a church school. When the church cannot afford to pay for each of these people to come to BYU, Packer asked, and when
[t]uition and fees do not make up one-fourth of the per-student cost of running this university … [h]ow can we justify expending those sacred [tithing] funds on a student who will dishonor the agreement he signed at the time of admission or on the salary of a faculty member who has his own agenda which is at variance with the central mission of the Church; particularly when there is a lineup, ever growing, of both students and teachers waiting and anxious to come to learn or to teach and advance the mission of the university and the central mission of the Church?
To those who chafed under this “conservative philosophy,” Packer offered a phrase from former church president Harold B. Lee: “The hit bird flutters!”167
Following Packer’s talk, the editor of Student Review wrote that while “a few” students might “react with their usual uproar,” most—himself included—” should be able to resolve such concerns by recognizing the source of the decision” in the LDS principle of “continuing revelation.”168 The Review’s religion editor, though, countered that the issue was not “the obedience of the students, but the fairness of the Board of Trustees,” who had not considered that the new policy might be a “breach of contract” with students who had been admitted and received ecclesiastical endorsement before the new policy was announced. “[T]he new policy,” he argued, “should have been implemented for those entering the university after the policy was put in place.”169
Debate surrounding mandatory church attendance came shortly after the Review ad published a series of articles suggesting serious problems with the Standards Office’s enforcement of the honor code. “Governed by an apparition-like set of policies based on situational ethics,” wrote Focus section editor Joanna Brooks, “Standards counselors use questionable techniques in enforcing the Code.” For example, she explained, one female student reported having been subjected to crude psychoanalysis by a Standards worker the previous semester. In a meeting with the student and her dormitory’s resident assistant, head resident, and chief of security, the Standards counselor repeatedly asked questions about the student’s relationship with her parents and family, and offered, in the end, his conclusion that her violations had to do with her “resentments towards [her] parents for not giving [her] enough freedom.” Standards workers also routinely violated BYU policy by communicating information about offenses to students’ church leaders, Brooks argued. As an experiment, she had posed as her roommate and made false accusations against herself in a phone call to the Standards Office, and had learned that referrals could remain anonymous and would be  turned over to the student’s bishop. By allowing resident assistants (RAs) and other students to turn in fellow students and remain anonymous, Brooks argued, the burden of proof rested on the accused rather than the accuser, who could be anyone from a jilted girl or boyfriend to a disgruntled roommate to a resident assistant who simply did not like your attitude. “If your R.A. doesn’t like you,” one resident assistant told Brooks, “he or she can make your life terrible.”170 Another article published alongside Brooks’ informed students that Standards officers also enforced a host of unpublished policies and claimed to have the authority (since the code applied to students “whether on or off campus”) to discipline students for what they wore or did even during school vacations.171
Brooks, the Student Review writer, was a first-year student on a presidential scholarship when she wrote her article on Standards. Shortly after the Review published her piece, Brooks was in her dormitory late one night making a purchase at a vending machine when her “dorm mother” accosted her, wanting to know how she could, with a clear conscience, attend BYU “on a scholarship bearing our prophet’s name” and still write her Standards article for the Review. Brooks also was asked to meet with a Standards counselor whose questionable practices were noted in the article. In the meeting, Brooks recalled, the counselor used a “really creepy blend of counseling and ecclesiastical insinuation on me,” though she underwent no formal discipline.172 (Sources in the school’s recruitment offices, however, report having been instructed by administrators to discontinue use of a brochure that prominently featured Brooks.)
Later that year Brooks and the Review continued their attempt to bring about an “investigation [of] or reform in the Standards offices.” The office invited the Review to submit a list of questions, to which the Director of University Standards, Norma Rhode, provided written answers. Rhode categorically denied that Standards had ever employed “spies” in general and “gaybaiters” in particular, and said they never would, though several cases of each had been documented over the previous two decades. Information Standards had collected was only “shared” with campus bishops, she said, with written permission from students, who were urged to talk to their bishops about “serious offenses.” Similarly, ecclesiastical officials should only provide information to Standards with students’ permission. Standards does receive information, she said, from University Police and from public criminal court reports. She also said that the most frequent offenses her office deals with are shoplifting, housing violations, and Word of Wisdom issues. Dress and grooming matters, she said, should be handled elsewhere in the community when possible.173
In the same issue Brooks published a second series of anecdotes by students who had “survived” encounters with Standards. Some of the problems implicit in the stories were similar to those in Brooks’s first piece: information leaked to bishops—even to faculty members—without students’ [p.160]knowledge, or pressure applied to turn in other students. One student was referred to the office for her hairstyle and wardrobe, and was told, she said, “that I looked like an atheist and a white supremacist.” Standards offered to purchase her new clothing if she would wear them. “I was told, ‘We aren’t asking a lot, we just want you to conform and be like everyone else,’“ she recalled. Each time she was summoned to Standards, she said, she was also called in by her bishop, though she had never signed a waiver for information to be given to church leaders by the Standards Office. In another anecdote, a male student whose hair “is a little longer than it should be” was summoned to Standards and asked why he wanted to push the boundaries on hair length. The officer consulted a file and said, “You’re involved in Honors I see. I think you’re doing this to make a statement that you’re an intellectual. All of you Honors students think you’re above the rules.” Brooks called on other students with similar experiences to submit them to the Review; she planned to compile them and submit them to the administration, demanding a reformation of Standards procedures.174
The following year, in March 1991, a sixteen-person ad hoc honor code committee, chaired by Vice President for Student Life R. J. Snow, produced a revised Code of Honor and Dress and Grooming Standards. The most publicized change was the approval, for the first time, of shorts for men and women, as long as they were “knee length or lower.” Snow also pointed out that the two codes had been separated. For the first time since the late 1960s, the honor code did not contain a requirement that students live the dress standards—a change intended to emphasize individual honor as a principle that governed student behavior. The dress standards, with the exception of legalizing shorts and eliminating the requirement that men always wear socks, remained largely unchanged and were still considered mandatory for students. Also the code aligned itself, as its earliest incarnations had, with the church’s recently resurrected pamphlet For the Strength of Youth. Enforcement of the code underwent a change with the announced revisions: Snow said that four student “honor councils” would be created, each with jurisdiction over a portion of the two codes. Student honor councils would be given authority to carry out discipline over “lesser infractions,” including plagiarism and dress standards violations.175
Two years later, though, the code remained the same, and honor code officials announced a “crack down” in “honor code enforcement” that would require library and testing center employees to turn away even the mildest offenders.176 In an opinion piece for the Daily Universe, Bryan Waterman, at the time an editor of Student Review, responded by pointing out that most people were still conflating the “honor code” with the “Dress and Grooming Standards,” since “honor code enforcement” continued to be carried out by campus employees who would be on the lookout for dress standards violators. “Can you imagine the workers in the library or Testing Center actually enforcing the Honor Code rather than the Dress and Grooming Standards?” he [p.161]wrote. “It would go something like this: ‘So you want to check out these books, eh? Well, tell me-are you honest? Chaste? Are you kind to others?’ Perhaps this kind of grilling would rule out too many of us. Certainly BYU has more unchaste students than people who want long hair and beards or the so-called ‘bra-less look.’“ Waterman also questioned whether suspending penitent offenders was appropriately Christian, citing Jesus’ response to a woman “taken in adultery” as an alternative.177
As a result of continual pressure on church leaders and administrators to remove violators in order to make room for more worthy young Mormons, some students have acknowledged pressure to lie to church leaders or withhold confessions of wrongdoing for fear that a confession might mean losing one’s ecclesiastical endorsement. “If BYU were to dismiss me because of something I had confessed to my bishop in confidence,” wrote an anonymous former student in the Review, “that information would no longer be an issue of confidence. Everyone would know. I would be kicked out. I would have to go home and apply to another school. My family, my friends, fellow ward members, roommates, any school to which I would ever apply again, even businesses where I might try to work, would know. … If I repented, I risked having my sins [thrown] up in my face.”178
A few months later another anonymous student—one who had “faced my fears” and confessed, risking expulsion—responded to such criticisms. In this student’s experience, the ecclesiastical leader did not turn in the student to the recently renamed Honor Code Office. The student claimed to have asked if a bishop could inform the Honor Code Office about a violation or vice versa, and—in keeping with Norma Rhode’s responses to Student Review three years earlier—had been told that such communication could not take place without a student’s permission. When Student Review’s religion editors accessed an “Honor Code Handbook,” they found that one role listed for campus ecclesiastical leaders was “Referring students to the Honor Code Office.” Tom Kallunki, assistant dean of student life, told the Review that this means a bishop “may ask the student to go to the Honor Code Office, but cannot force a student to do so, or go over the student’s head without her or his permission.” If students are excommunicated, however, a bishop is required to inform the university and the student will be expelled. If disfellowshipped, a student may remain if the bishop recommends it, and if the student is not perceived as a threat to others.179
One honor code-related issue to attract significant attention in the 1990s has been homosexuality. The church’s unfaltering anti-gay stance has traditionally meant that gay and lesbian BYU students have only been open about their sexuality in underground communities. In the 1970s the issue of gays at BYU was publicized when the school launched a semi-public campaign to identify and expel gay male students. BYU security officers reportedly took down license plate numbers from cars at known gay clubs and cross-checked them against BYU auto registration records.180 BYU security [p.162] was also exposed in the late 1970s for having set up sting operations using undercover officers to pose as gay students.181 In the early 1980s a series of articles in the independent student publication Seventh East Press argued for increased tolerance on gay issues, and revealed details about electroshock aversion therapy conducted on campus to “cure” homosexuality.182 Although the founding staff of the later Student Review initially declared gay issues off limits (citing the untimely death of Seventh East Press as a justification), by 1992 the Review had dedicated two issues to the topic. Many of the articles that followed argued for liberalizing Mormon positions on gay issues.183
That these issues were of special concern to university officials, and to honor code officials in particular, is suggested by the stories of several students who were summarily dismissed from the university, presumably for their sexual orientation—sometimes without being told explicitly on what grounds they were being dismissed, and often without a chance to defend themselves. In 1993 non-Mormon faculty member Tomi-Ann Roberts, who would soon leave the university over academic freedom issues (see chap. 6), wrote Student Review after having attempted to defend two students who had been dismissed from BYU. At least one of these dismissals, presumably, was on suspicion of the student’s sexual orientation, though the church leader who revoked her ecclesiastical endorsement would not tell her exactly what the charges were because Roberts was present. Roberts wrote that her subsequent conversations with honor code officials had left her “disenchanted with the Ecclesiastical Endorsement/Honor Code system.” She added: “For the bishops and stake presidents of these two women to say, as they did, that they were above all concerned with their spiritual wellbeing, is insulting and flies in the face of what [the students] are experiencing now[.] … As a non-Mormon in this community, it is hard for me to imagine other Christian denominations treating their own members with such a lack of respect and forgiveness.”184
Beginning in the late 1980s, church leaders began to differentiate in their public statements on gay issues between homosexual “tendencies” and homosexual acts.185 While this distinction has allowed some leaders to maintain that homosexual identities do not exist and that sexual orientation can be “changed,” it has also forced BYU officials to confront situations in which students (and at least one faculty member), who openly avow their homosexuality, elect to remain on campus, as long as they abide by the honor code (which, leaders maintain, forbids some levels of pre-marital physical intimacy between gays or lesbians that are considered “safe” for heterosexuals). In 1995 school officials became aware that a faculty member in the Spanish department, Thomas Matthews, had discussed his homosexuality in private conversations, though he affirmed that he remained celibate, as Mormon and BYU regulations would require. Matthews had participated in a Utah gay pride march and, following a meeting with BYU officials in which they asked [p.163]about his sexual orientation, he told local press that, though the school had not threatened his job, he would begin looking for teaching positions elsewhere. “I was tired of answering questions about why I am thirty-nine and not married,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune, adding that while he currently remained within BYU’s and the church’s behavioral expectations, “I don’t know if I am capable of committing to live the rest of my life alone.”186 That fall, after gaining notoriety in the community and becoming a special target of local conservative groups, Matthews announced that he would definitely leave BYU once he found another job.187 A year later he took a position at another Utah school, Weber State University, ending speculations on the part of some observers whether BYU would allow him to make it through his sixth-year review, which was still two years away. “[H]is conduct was in keeping with our standard,” BYU spokesman Brent Harker told reporters, “and it was really his own struggle.”188 Former BYU president Rex E. Lee, however, had confided to Provo community leaders that the situation had placed large amounts of pressure on the administration.189 Though church president Gordon B. Hinckley maintained to reporters in April 1997 that “[w]e have gays in the Church. Good people,” and that “[ w]e take no action against such people—provided they don’t become involved in … sexual transgression,” the school has demonstrated increasing nervousness about hiring single male professors, in particular (see chap. 10).190
The same issue the university confronted over a gay but celibate faculty member has become more commonplace among students, especially following the founding in late 1996 of Open Forum, an informal campus group for discussion among gay students and their friends and family members, and for dialogue with the administration on gay-related issues. The group secured a faculty advisor, Paul Thomas, the parent of a gay son, though a year later, after extensive discussion with school officials, the group still had not succeeded in gaining official club status. The group aimed, in part, to “publicize the fact that gays and lesbians were welcome at the university.”191 Group members conducted research in early 1997 showing that 42 percent of BYU students surveyed believed that celibate gay students should not be allowed at BYU, though over 90 percent said they were familiar with the church’s stance regarding gay BYU students. Thirteen percent said they knew gay BYU students. Though some heterosexual students expressed support for honor-code-abiding gay students, others balked at the idea that one could claim a gay identity and still expect to stay at BYU. One student interviewed by the Salt Lake Tribune said: “If people have the desire to change, that’s great. But for them to say, ‘I’m gay and there’s nothing I can do about it’ is almost a slap in the face to BYU students and the school.”192 Group members maintained that they did not seek to change church policy, but to make students aware that church policy already provided for them to remain at BYU, as long as they upheld the honor code. As the LDS church steps up its participation in movements against gay rights, however, the situ-[p.163]ation of students such as those in Open Forum could become increasingly tenuous.
Another common honor code issue in recent years has been the frequent allegation that BYU athletes—many of whom are not Mormon—are treated differently when it comes to infractions of university standards. In the spring of 1994, a former Daily Universe reporter published in Student Review an expose of cover-ups attempting to protect athletes from being punished for honor code violations. When the writer and others had approached the Universe with similar stories, they had been told by student editors that “We protect our athletes.” In the Review article, the writer quoted witnesses to a drunken brawl between a BYU quarterback and football players from the University of Utah. He also cited a BYU swimmer who had “voluntarily” left after being reported for drinking, so he could keep his eligibility to swim at other schools. The swimmer said he had been scapegoated since swimming is not a high profile or high profit sport, but that he had regularly encountered key players from other teams at drinking parties. The swimmer also said that, during his first recruiting trip to Provo, BYU athletics officials had “picked out those who party from those who don’t and [those who do] were taken to a room where they pulled out Vodka for shots.” Several current football players, who remained anonymous in the article, confirmed rumors that players regularly drank or engaged in premarital sex, and that coaches simply warned them to keep such actions low profile.193 Following the article’s release, some of the sources received threatening telephone calls, the Review office received death threats on its answering machine, and thousands of copies of the newspaper were stolen from stands in Provo.
Well-publicized cases following the Student Review expose suggest that, at least when the offenses are publicized, BYU does not coddle code-breaking athletes. In May 1995 the school expelled five football players after they were accused of raping a nineteen-year-old Provo woman. Though criminal charges did not materialize, four of the five admitted having sex with the woman, though they claimed the acts were consensual. In any case, considered an infraction of the honor code, the actions brought disciplinary measures.194 The incident raised perennial questions about the difficulties faced by non-Mormon athletes who agree to sign a Mormon code of conduct that forbids drinking and pre-marital sex. “I thought I coped pretty well [at BYU],” said one of the expelled players. “But it was tough.”195 The issue continues to surface. As recently as April 1995 members of both the basketball and football teams were suspended following drug-related criminal charges.196
In the wake of the May 1995 football sex scandal, the administration in July 1995 announced the most significant revisions to the honor code and its enforcement in recent years. While the school still attempted to distinguish between the principle-based honor code and the more pragmatic dress stand-[p.165]ards, the new revisions placed both codes, along with codes governing residential life, under the larger name “Code of Student Conduct,” which had been used almost thirty years earlier when Wilkinson took control of the student honor code. Vice President of Student Life Alton Wade and Richelle Anderson, assistant to the dean of student life, said that beginning in the fall a five-part plan would take effect to promote honor code adherence. The first phase was to assess campus attitudes toward the code. The second would involve educational activities to help students understand the code’s requirements. The third would involve an on-going public relations campaign to keep the code continually on students’ minds. The fourth would involve an “Honor Code Forum” held each semester in which scholars from various disciplines would discuss, in the Daily Universe’s phrase, “the moral and ethical applications of the honor code principles beyond campus life.” The final phase involved what Anderson called “community partnership” in honor code enforcement, calling on faculty, staff, and students to remind each other of their honor code commitments. Vice President Wade said that university staff-including workers in the bookstore, library, eateries, testing center, and administrative offices—would have the responsibility to confront dress and grooming violators in particular. Even custodians would help: “What they’ve asked us to do,” the head of custodial services told the Universe, “is check for the standards and make sure they’re being followed. We kindly point [violations] out to [students] and they can go home and change or shave, or they can choose to be served and have a referral sent to the Honor Code Office.” In order to help personalize the code, students would be required to write out and sign individual commitments to the regulations before their bishops would sign a yearly endorsement.197
When students returned that fall, the Universe informed them of the summer developments, with emphasis on “community partnership.” For students, the Universe reported, this meant taking seriously the longstanding charge to turn in honor code violators. By returning the previously used “help others” phrase to the code, Alton Wade explained, the university was asking students to remind others, educate them, and ultimately to report them to the Honor Code Office.198 Another Universe article pointed to the length of shorts (especially for women) and men’s facial hair as the most common violations. One Honor Code Council member said that students frequently called the Honor Code Office to report violations, but they rarely had a name to offer. “It would be very exciting for us if a student would take responsibility and talk to another student [who is violating the code] and ask ‘Are you a student? Are you aware of the standard?’”199 A Universe cartoon pointed to the tension surrounding the issue of ratting out offenders: “Sammy finds a long hair in his roommate’s closet,” the first panel explains, “and questions begin to arise. Is his roommate’s hair too long? Or does this belong to a female ‘“and why is it in the closet?” The cartoon continues: “Should the Honor Code [Office] find out about this? Should he report this,  so that he might be helping others maintain the Honor Code?” And the concluding frame: “Finally … The Biggest Question … What is Sammy doing in his roommate’s closet?”200
The fall honor campaign picked up steam a few months into the semester when the Honor Code Council released a list of “Suggestions for Talking to Students about the Honor Code;’ along with referral cards to help students turn each other in more efficiently. The immediate crisis, the Universe reported, was that the University President’s Council had voted in early November to repeal the 1990 decision allowing shorts to be worn on campus. “The initial decision to allow students to wear shorts,” Alton Wade told the paper, “was with the understanding that the continued privilege be withdrawn unless [the Student Advisory Council] and BYUSA [Brigham Young University Students Association] can submit and carry out a successful, ongoing campus-wide compliance initiative.” The President’s Council and the Honor Code Advisory Council decided to allow students one last chance to rid the, campus of too-short shorts. “We just have too many who have caught a bad spirit [regarding the honor code],” Wade said. The Honor Code Council’s guidelines for reporting violators were framed as approaches students could take to obtain information about other students for use on the referral cards. “Hello, my name is Richelle,” one approach began. “What’s your name? Are you a student? Did you realize when you got dressed this morning that your shorts, non-shaving,. etc. were not within the expectations of the Honor Code?” Another approach was: “We take your commitment to the university to uphold our standards including the Dress and Grooming Standards seriously. We want you to understand why they are so important and would like to invite you to talk to a member of the Honor Code Council.” The referral card itself asked for the violator’s name, social security number, telephone number, type of violation (hair length or style, shorts or skirt length, men’s earring, language, respect of others, Word of Wisdom, beard, modesty, neatness and cleanliness), and an option for the reporter’s name to be withheld from the student being referred.201
Merrill J. Bateman: Selling Safe Shorts
Shortly after Merrill Bateman, the first LDS general authority appointed to BYU’s presidency, succeeded Rex Lee as president in 1996, the Honor Code Office launched a campaign to explain its facilitating position on shorts and remind students that a final decision still had not been made. Student leaders organized a fashion show to kick off the fall semester, reminiscent of BYU’s fashion shows of the 1950s, where students were to model shorts of appropriate length. Though the show was rained out, an indoor “shorts dance” was held and those who attended wearing long shorts received half-price admission.202
That fall administrators announced that shorts would remain on campus, warning that consequences for violators would increase—including pos-[p.167]ssible suspension. Students whose names were turned in to the Honor Code Office, the Universe reported, were required to sign a statement reading: “I understand that I have been placed on formal warning by the Honor Code Office and that further noncompliance may result in my suspension from the university.” The Universe also reported that the administration had conducted a behind-the-scenes survey earlier in the fall which showed that 13 percent of men and 46 percent of women wearing shorts on campus were in violation of standards. That survey was considered together with another survey conducted the previous winter that showed an overwhelming majority of students wanted to keep shorts legal, but also wanted offenders to be dealt with more severely. Wade continued to affirm that “[t]he issue is one of honor, integrity and character. Shorts, long hair and beards are not moral issues, but honor and integrity are.”203
A feature article in the Salt Lake Tribune earlier in the month had reported that the sale of knee-length shorts had become a lucrative business for the BYU Bookstore. The store’s manager of women’s apparel, the article said, had gained a national reputation as “the woman from Utah who wants the long shorts.’• At a recent buyer’s show in Las Vegas, for example, she was “treated like royalty” by designers such as Calvin Klein and Z. Cavaricci once they learned she was from BYU. The buyer, who said she started stocking an extensive selection of shorts after students complained that they could not find BYU regulation shorts at local malls, also said that the university bookstore had developed an international mail order business for Mormons who need long shorts to cover knee-length temple undergarments.204
The public attention devoted to the fate of shorts on campus drowned out what honor code officials hoped would be a more important campaign—the “Circle of Honor.” The campaign drew on a quote from BYU’s founding president, Karl G. Maeser, which administrators since Wilkinson had used to promote student adherence to the honor code: “I have been asked what I mean by word of honor,” Maeser had said to the school’s first generation of pupils. “I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls—walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground—there is a possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I’d die first.” Posters of a campus statue of the bearded Maeser with the quotation were distributed widely on campus. In a special “Honor Code” edition of the Universe, Honor Code Council members emphasized that they were “real people,” just like other students, and said they had “a broad vision for the university … that one day every student will be a member of the Honor Code Council.”205 (A year later the council voted to change its name in an attempt to help students view its function more positively. The name ultimately chosen, through a campus wide competition, was Student Honor Association.206) Alton Wade published an open letter to students, taking a positive  approach, complimenting readers for “recogniz[ing] the importance of allowing their attitudes and actions to fit and accommodate the direction of our church leaders” who, he said, have “established stricter standards for us at BYU than for the church membership in generai.”207
The Circle of Honor campaign came on the heels of an internal study leaked to the press in early 1996, which showed that BYU graduates were more likely than Mormon graduates of other universities to remain active in the church, pay tithing, marry in the temple, and have children. The study, conducted for the university by members of the sociology department, confirmed what BYU officials had long stated as their goal: “The evidence is overwhelming,” researchers wrote, “that attending BYU, even for only one semester, produces young adults who are highly active in the church.” The Associated Press quoted school spokesman Brent Harker explaining that trustees had decided not to publish the study due to the pressure they already received from Mormon parents who wanted their children to attend BYU. “[R]elease of this study would only make it worse,” Harker said. One of the authors confirmed that Provost Bruce Hafen had instructed the researchers not to disseminate their findings.208
The tensions surrounding the internal study are intimately linked to the history of BYU’s honor code. On the one hand, the study shows that Ernest Wilkinson’s goal in institutionalizing the code—to help the church shape generations of model, tithe-paying Mormons—has largely been accomplished, as the structures he set in place have endured for three decades. It also points to ways in which BYU”s enrollment cap allows administrators to use the threat of punishment for honor code or dress standards violations to keep students in line: the message has been clear from Wilkinson’s time to the present that students who do not behave “appropriately”—that is, are not obedient to school and church authority—will be forced to study elsewhere. Thirty years of constant amendment and administrative attention keep the codes and the precarious nature of one’s status at BYU ever present in student minds.
But the study also calls attention to the potentially negative effects of Wilkinson’s vision. Indignant students, for example, have often been the most rigorous standards watchdogs, creating what some see as a cult of self-righteousness. As one student wrote in response to the study: “I’ll defend [BYU’s] academic programs, the honor code, and the necessity of taking religion classes in front of anyone I meet. But don’t play these ‘pat me on the back’ games with my religion, and don’t label my very active friends and family at other universities as ‘less active.’”209 Emphasizing submission to authority as the touchstone of honor could have more serious implications for a university environment as well: A BYU clinical psychology study published about the same time concluded that students were, compared to those at other universities, more accepting of authority, more perfectionistic, and less able to think critically.210 Over the thirty years since Wilkinson  removed the honor code from student authority, at each phase when student compliance became increasingly demanded, students resisted, but eventually the new policies became accepted and, as new students entered under the new regulations, current versions of the honor code and dress and grooming standards have been viewed as “inspired.” Attempts to question the regulations make one immediately suspect, and subject to criticism: “You knew what you were signing up for,” the response has been for thirty years. “If you don’t like it, go somewhere else, and make room for one of the thousands who would be happy to live within the standards.” As visiting professor Karl Sandberg witnessed during his 1992-93 stay in Provo, a large part of Wilkinson’s legacy is that honor at “the Lord’s university” requires constant enforcement. It will likely remain so as BYU continues to manufacture model students—who then become model Mormons—for years to come.
2. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Codes and Covenants,” in BYU Speeches of the Year, 1994-95 (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1995). Thanks to Mara Ashby for help tracking down this quotation. See also Joan O’Brien, “Hinckley: BYU Honor Code Evolved at Students’ Request,” Salt Lake Tribune, 21 Oct. 1994; Dennis Romboy, “BYU Honor Code Called Timely,” Deseret News, 19-20 Oct. 1994.
3. Ernest L. Wilkinson, ed., Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years, 4 vols. (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1975-76), 2:462, 488. The best previous treatment of BYU’s honor code is in Gary James Bergera and Ronald Priddis, Brigham Young University: A House of Faith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 93-130. That book’s notes served as a particularly helpful guide to researching this chapter.
7. Ibid., 179. For Wilkinson’s political activity, see Gary James Bergera’s two articles, “A Strange Phenomena: Ernest L. Wilkinson, the LDS Church, and Utah Politics,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26 (Summer 1993): 89-115; and “‘A Sad and Expensive Experience’: Ernest L. Wilkinson’s 1964 Bid for the U.S. Senate,” Utah Historical Quarterly 61 (Fall 1993).
12. On the spy ring, see Wilkinson, Brigham Young University, 3:775-76; Bergera and Priddis, Brigham Young University, 207-16; and D. Michael Quinn, “Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26 (Summer 1993): 1-87, esp. 50-55.
14. Benson, in the church’s April 1965 general conference, had asserted that the NAACP was communist-controlled. Reportedly, his son, Reed Benson, was in large part the architect of the race war rumors. See Quinn, “Ezra Taft Benson,” 34-35.
15. See “Back of San Francisco Rioting: Red Agitation,” U.S. News and World Report, 30 May 1960, 12; “More Campus Unrest: Are Reds to Blame?” U.S. News and World Report, 10 May 1965,14; “From J. Edgar Hoover: A Report on Campus Reds,” U.S. News and World Report, 31 May 1965; all cited in Wilkinson, Brigham Young University, 3:321-22.
23. Wilkinson to Cameron, 21 Dec. 1965; Cameron to Wilkinson, 31 Apr. 1967, from which the quotations are taken. Copies of these and all other unpublished manuscript materials, unless otherwise noted, are in our possession.
52. Wilkinson to “Dear Bishop,” Mar. 1968; “Brigham Young University Confidential Report on Candidate for Admission.” See also an additional form and letter designed for applicants from areas without local LDS leadership and/or for non-Mormon applicants.
131. These guidelines were attached to a memorandum to zoology faculty and personnel, ca. Nov. 1972. They differ slightly from a version that apparently circulated with—though was not included in—the 1972 pamphlet containing the “Code of Honor.” The latter version, however, omitted the phrase about “personal interpretation.”
134. BYU Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes, 5 Apr. 1972. At the same meeting Oaks reported on a memorandum he had sent to faculty on the Code of Honor, plagiarism, and dress and grooming standards. He mentioned Daily Universe editorials supporting standards and a statement he delivered to students on the subject.
139. Executive Committee of Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes, 16 Dec. 1976, 1 Mar. 1977. The recommendation was made at this later meeting to make exceptions to the beard policy for medically documented reasons.
141. Nibley, “What Is Zion?,” in What Is Zion? Joseph Smith Lecture Series, 1972-73 (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1973), 1-21; excerpted in Seventh East Press, 28 Sept. 1982; reprinted in “What Is Zion? A Distant View,” Sunstone, Apr. 1989,21-32.
143. Associated Press, “Singer’s Schedule at Y. Triggers ‘Dialogue,’ “Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Feb. 1976; Associated Press, “BYU Clarifies Stand on Hair Length Issue,” Salt Lake Tribune, 6 Feb. 1976; Associated Press, “Some Tongue in Cheek from Neil Diamond?” Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Feb. 1976.
153. Bryan Waterman, telephone conversation with Anita Lavon Bryan Welch, 30 July 1996, notes in Waterman’s possession. Apparently Bryan was only the most publicized of perhaps dozens of women who pulled similar stunts before women’s jeans were allowed on campus. Utah attorney general Jan Graham told an audience at Utah Valley State College in 1996 that she had done the same thing as a BYU student. Graham was subsequently confused with Bryan in press reports of her speech. See Robert Kirby and Lisa Johnson, ‘Jan Graham: Utah State Attorney General,” Salt Lake City, May/June 1996, which mistakenly attributes the publicity generated by Bryan to Graham. Thanks to Terry Ann Harward and Merle Tanner-White for help sorting out the confusion surrounding this story.
180. See D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996), appendix: “Chronology of Same-Sex Issues in American and Mormon Culture,” 442. Quinn notes that the national gay publication, The Advocate, published three articles on the BYU “purge,” beginning in its 18 June 1975 issue. The magazine’s editor, Robert McQueen, was himself a former Mormon missionary. See Ron Schow, Wayne Schow, and Marybeth Raynes, eds., Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-Sex Orientation (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1991), xxvi.
183. See issues of Student Review dated 28 Nov. 1990 and 20 Oct. 1992. Numerous individual articles on gay topics appeared in the Review through the mid 1990s. See especially the anonymous “Thoughts from a BYU Lesbian,” in the July 1993 issue. Also see Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics, 59-61n 54.
184. Tomi-Ann Roberts to the editors, Student Review, 10 Mar. 1993. Though Roberts does not mention that one of the students was presumably being dismissed for her sexual orientation, Bryan Waterman was familiar with the situation surrounding Roberts’s letter. The student in question was also one of two students mentioned in another protest letter: Waterman, “Depth of Honor” (cited above).
186. Peggy Fletcher Stack, “BYU May Face Decision on Gay, But Celibate, Language Professor,” Salt Lake Tribune, 22 July 1995. See also Sheila Sanchez, “Gay BYU Professor Feels at Peace,” Daily Herald, 8 Aug. 1995, in which Matthews expresses disappointment with Mormon attitudes toward gay issues, listing some church leaders by name.
196. See Greg Burton and Joe Baird, “Cougar Basketball Program Rattled by Suspensions,” Salt Lake Tribune, 25 Mar. 1998. Two days later one of the players who had been suspended on drug charges was named the team’s Most Valuable Player. See “BYU Names Suspended Selleaze MVP,” Salt Lake Tribune 28 Mar. 1998. [p.176]following week the Tribune reported that the same player had given an anti-drug speech to school children two days after his arrest, without mentioning the incident. See Paul Rolly and Joann Jacobsen-Wells, “BYU Star Does Selleaz-y Thing to DARE Kids,” Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Apr. 1998. On the player’s eventual suspension, see Patrick Kinahan, “Selleaze’s BYU Career Is Over,” Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Apr. 1998.
198. Matthew Wright, “Revised BYU Honor Code Stresses Accountability,” Daily Universe, 7 Sept. 1995. See also Janna Nielsen, “Ecclesiastical endorsement renewal to include personal written commitment to Honor Code,” in the same issue.
201. Emily Sanderson, “Last Chance for Shorts,” Daily Universe, 9 Nov. 1995. See also “BYU Honor Code Council Suggestions for Talking to Students about the Honor Code,” and a reproduction of an “Honor Code Council Referral Card” in the same issue. The same edition of the Universe also contained, ironically, an article reporting research by a BYU psychology graduate student on the problem of “religious perfectionism” on campus, which he said was manifest in clinical settings when BYU students attached their depression to a statement such as “I’ll never be able to live up to my standards.” The graduate student was planning to sponsor a religious perfectionism therapy support group. See Amy Mueller, “Grad Student Offers Religious Perfectionists Help,” Daily Universe, 9 Nov. 1995.
203. Lane Anderson, “Shorts make the cut, cools discussion,” Daily Universe, 29 Oct. 1996. See also Alecia Finlinson, “Shorts ‘kneeded’ to be worn with integrity, honor,” Daily Universe, 31 Oct. 1996; Sharon Haddock, “BYU ends probation period on shorts,” Deseret News, 3 Nov. 1996; Taylor Syphus, “Shorts Will Continue to Be Allowed at Y.,” Salt Lake Tribune, 1 Nov. 1996.
206. Amanda Cresap, “Honor council seeks clearer identity,” Daily Universe, 17 Jan. 1997. Responses to a Student Review survey asking for suggested names for the Honor Code Office included “The Dark Side of the Force,” “Rat Police,” and “Hitler’s Helpers.” In response to another question, 34 percent of students surveyed agreed with the statement that the honor code is pharisaic. See “Student Survey of the Honor Code,” Student Review, 19 Mar. 1997. The same issue of Student Review contains an interview with honor code official Rush Sumpter.
208. Quoted in [Brian Kagel], “BYU Grads More Active Than Other University Grads,” Sunstone, June 1996, 75. See also Vern Anderson (A.P.), “Secret Study: BYU Grads Keep the Faith,” Salt Lake Tribune, 17 Feb. 1996. Anderson’s story was published in the Daily Universe on 20 February. See as well Bruce A. Chadwick, Howard Christensen, Joseph Olsen, Darwin Thomas, and Brent Top, “The BYU Experience: Career, Family, Religious, and Social Consequences,” Report for University Administration, Center for Studies of the Family, Nov. 1995.