What Really Goes On at BYU?

by npiller88

not even once?

Maybe I’m just not wholesome enough. Maybe its because I’m a satanic Angeleno. Or that I was born in Oakland, CA. Or that I went to high school in San Francisco. That’s a long way from Provo, Utah.

But for the love of Moroni, I just can’t wrap my head around the media reaction to the near-expulsion of BYU stud center Brandon Davies for premarital sex.

Most major media outlets have PRAISED it.

Why, just peruse Time Magazine, which lauded BYU as a school that “sticks by its principles.” ESPN, ever wary of offending its core middle America demographic, had the most despicable reaction, or should I say “non-reaction.” Now, I’m not surprised that ESPN’s Skip Bayless scolded the average fan for viewing BYU’s standards as “laughably unrealistic” (sounds about right). I’m not surprised he speculated that “I’m not sure what Brian Davies did,” (his name is Brandon) “but I can tell you this, it wasn’t a misdemeanor.” (actually, it was below a misdemeanor. It was a hormonal indiscretion). He went on to say that “It’s not like someone spotted Davies’ sipping a coffee at Starbucks and snapped a picture of it.” Nope, that didn’t happen. He just had sex with his girlfriend, something we can assume Skip views as a felony, according to the logic above. Maybe this is just because Bayless is a self-satisfied scumbag, who I would guess would fit in nicely with the latter day saints (as seen in his less-than-subtle suggestion that Troy Aikman is gay, in his 1996 book “Hell Bent,” not mention his everyday douchbaggery on ESPN’s first take).

But when ESPN’s Chris Broussard chimed in on the same program (“First and Ten”), I had to do a double take to make sure it wasn’t Newt Gingrinch on the screen speaking in Broussard’s oddly articulate ghettoish drawl. It was as if Broussard had been taken in off the streets as a child by a Mormon priest, the way he gushed:

I like their rules. I like the fact that when most programs on their level will sell their soul…to win games, they’re saying there are certain things more important than the game.

Broussard gave the BYU administration EXACTLY what they were looking for when they decided (in 24 hours) to penalize Davies. If any ESPN personality would offer up some sympathy for Davies, I thought it might be Broussard, who seems cognizant of the stereotypes that swirl throughout college and the NBA about black players. He’s worked in Cleveland, New York, grew up in Baton Rouge.. certainly an educated young black man. Why is he praising BYU? As you might guess of a school affiliated with a church that endorses a scripturally-based racial hierarchy, BYU has trouble recruiting black players. And prior to this season, they kicked Michael Lloyd Jr. (their last prominent black player) off the team, for underage drinking.

There's a reason the black kid doesn't want to show his face

Please don’t get confused. I’m not pulling the race card. I’m just saying I was surprised that Broussard would be so eager to praise the “rules.” It’s all very suspicious. ESPN’s First and Ten program asks a panel a series of questions, and each one is displayed at the bottom of the screen as it is discussed. The question was, “Unrealistic Expectations in BYU Honor Code?” And they bring in two panelists who essentially say the same thing: “No.” As I got finished pulling the last clump of hair off of my scalp, I wondered to myself, why even ask the question, if you already know the answer you want to use…?

It’s almost as if there’s a BYU mafia operating behind the scenes (or an Illuminati?), because critics have changed their tunes pretty rapidly. Look at Amar’e Stoudamire, who tweeted:

Don’t ever go to BYU, They kick a Young Educated (Black) Brother OUT OF SCHOOL. The kid had premarital secks. Not suspended, Not Release. Wow! P.S. With his girlfriend. Come on BYU don’t kick the kid out of school. Let’s be honest he is in college. Let’s the kid live a little. #AntiBYU

Ok, so Amare was wrong about one thing, it wasn’t an outright expulsion. But he was right about another: “Don’t ever go to BYU.”

*shudder*

Still, the Illuminati, or the Knights Templar, take your pick, must have gotten to him, since he followed up that gem with this stinker, just 24 hours later (those Mormons work quickly!):

I totally understand the actions of BYU, It totally respect the school an the conduct rules. BYU has a great athletic program.

But I’ll just assume, for the moment, that each panelist and tweeter was completely honest, and that this has nothing to do with the demographics of ESPN”s wide viewership, or in Amar’e’s case, the fact that Mormons buy sneakers too. So if BYU’s actions are surely justified and even the Israel-visiting, New York heathen, college-skipping, unmarried likes of Amar’e “totally understand” them, the questions becomes: What is life at BYU really like? If everyone lives by the code, Davies sealed his own fate when he accepted the scholarship. But I have an teeny-weeny feeling that not everyone lives by the code, and not everyone gets ratted out. We’ll look deeper after the jump

It comes down to this: If everyone lives by the code, then we can only slam the BYU administration for being a bunch of sanctimonious scumbags. If not everyone does, and some are singled out, then we can slam the BYU administration for being a bunch of sanctimonious, CUNNING scumbags.

Deadspin has released a few former BYU student accounts of what life is like there, and how strictly the code is enforced. There’s lots of disagreement. The first account, turned in anonymously, seems to suggest that some follow the code, and some don’t:

When I was in school, I didn’t know anyone who lived the honor code as it’s written down. It’s super strict. You can’t have a girl in your apartment past midnight. I would guess that the majority of students there are trying to live it. But it self-segregates. There are two worlds. If you’re the type of person who’s going to break the honor code, you’re probably going to live with other guys who are going to break the honor code. Things happen behind closed doors. You know what’s going on. Every single place I lived, girls were always sleeping over. I had one roommate who was always smoking pot, always drinking cough syrup. My roommates were having sex with different girls all the time.

So maybe if you just break the code with other code-breakers, you don’t have to worry about being ratted on, which could leave some room for bad behavior. Anonymous also seems to think that the immediacy of the decision reveals a double standard, perhaps borne of a perceived opportunity to further polish that squeaky clean image, especially in contrast to NCAA programs that forgive assault or DUI:

Lots of people break the honor code and nothing happens. What makes me angry about this is that this kid is wearing a scarlet letter now. If they’re really interested in his personal well-being, why make it so public? It’s so contrary to what Mormons believe about how you should work out your personal issues in privacy. In this case it’s become this big public spectacle. It’s one thing if it’s criminal. But this should be a private spiritual matter. The other thing that’s troubling to me is how quickly they moved on this. That one girl’s case lasted months. But the school moved so quickly on this. The public narrative is that you knew what you were signing up for. But there’s another side to it. The reality is that regular students get away with it just as much as — if not more than — athletes, simply because when they do run afoul of the honor code, it never goes public.

Even if regular students are penalized at the same rate, only the athletes have to face such a public ostracism, on ESPN, no less.

Not everyone agrees with Anonymous though (and by the way, after Amare’s quick reversal, I can understand the need for anonymity). Hilarious alias “Four Nicator,” who was put on probation for possessing a swimsuit magazine, seems to make the non-cunning characterization of the school more plausible:

You usually don’t end up in the Honor Code Office unless you are told on, however that happens way too often. My counselor was a big time dick; in the letter he wrote to my bishop he said I had a pornography problem (the Maxim magazine) and I also had an aggression issue. In my opinion, Davies isn’t used as a tool, he’s just being treated the same as everyone else. Everyone knows what the Honor Code is, it’s posted everywhere, everyone knows all the rules. Everyone talks about it, everyone cracks jokes about it. Lots of people break the Honor Code and they get punished for it, there is no double standard. Most people break the small rules in the code, such as members of the opposite sex staying over too late, some heavy petting and fondling. However, if you lived in the dorms and you got busted sneaking in or doing something against the code, most RAs would report you to the Honor Code. I knew a ton of people who did it and got away with it, but I also knew a ton who got caught and got referred to the Honor Code Office. The latter were looked down on, as if they were criminals.

Ok, so maybe those that get away with it are just the lucky ones. Another grad went even further:

In my time at BYU, 95% of the students observe the Honor Code to the letter. Again, if you obey church principles it really isn’t that different. I have family that have run in similar circles to Anonymous, and everyone in those circles believes that everyone on campus is doing just what they are doing. That is not true. That is called rationalization, trying to justify your own violations. I never saw drugs or alcohol in six years. I knew of some chastity issues, but they weren’t nearly as rampant as Anonymous would have you believe. Anonymous chose to remain so because he knew he would hear crap from everyone about his stance. Again, there are elements of truth, but to think BYU or the Church want this publicity more than whatever publicity would come from a Final Four run is insane. It is inflammatory. Unfortunately, I think that was his intent.

Or maybe he chose to remain anonymous to avoid the Illuminati? Who knows. Some other opinons:

The vast majority of students at BYU live the honor code. There are certainly some who don’t. But the number who are out getting drunk and having sex is in approximately the 10-15% range at most.

If you carefully read the Honor Code, you will see that most everyone breaks it in some form. Opposite sex members are not supposed to be in your bedroom nor in your apartment after midnight, etc. This is constantly broken. PornograFFy is a major problem.

This is all very murky. I don’t think Davies’ was used as an example by the administration. But it seems pretty clear that BYU’s athletic success is at least in part pinned to the natural advantages afforded by pent-up testosterone in a community that outlaws masturbation. My question is, if 15% of BYU students don’t live by the code (or even if it is 5%, like one grad suggested), then are all of these kids constantly being penalized? How could the school even fund an administrative apparatus to provide counselling to 3,400 students at a time? (10% of BYU’s student population). And even if this wasn’t planned out, don’t think for a second that they aren’t patting themselves on the back. Now, even if BYU bows out early in the tourney and loses good publicity, at least the administration can hang their hats on the (inexplicably) positive press that this incident has afforded them.

Poor Brandon Davies.

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