GRADUATION!! (Grad School)

Thursday, February 16

Not my usual style...

I don't usually rant about things that irritate me on my blog. But this came to my attention today and it has really gotten under my skin. So the 4 people who actually read my blog are going to have to suffer through my rant.

A picture ended up on Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday that has upset. ( I have added the link for the note and picture from the sites here and here.)
A young woman was studying on campus at BYU (Brigham Young University) and was approached by a young man. Since it was Valentine's Day she assumed the letter he handed her was some sort of love note... (Now everyone thinks "Awww Sweet") Instead what she actually received was this:

For those that can't read the tiny print let me type it out for you:
You may want to consider that what you're wearing has a negative effect on meant (and women) around you. Many people come to this university because they feel safe, morally as well as physically, here. They expect others to abide by the Honor Code that we all agreed on. Please consider your commitment to the Honor Code (which you agreed to) when dressing each day.  

Now you might not know what BYU's honor code is. BYU is an LDS (Latter-Day Saint or Mormon) University. All students that attend, both LDS and non-LDS sign an agreement that they will conduct themselves in a certain manner both on and off campus. Essentially they agree to live the standards of the LDS faith.

According to the BYU website the honor code states:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. . . . If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things (Thirteenth Article of Faith).
As a matter of personal commitment, faculty, administration, staff, and students of Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University—Hawaii, Brigham Young University—Idaho, and LDS Business College seek to demonstrate in daily living on and off campus those moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and will
  • Be honest 
  • Live a chaste and virtuous life 
  • Obey the law and all campus policies 
  • Use clean language 
  • Respect others 
  • Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse 
  • Participate regularly in church services 
  • Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards 
  • Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code
Specific policies embodied in the Honor Code include (1) the Academic Honesty Policy, (2) the Dress and Grooming Standards, (3) the Residential Living Standards, and (4) the Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement. (Refer to institutional policies for more detailed information.

So now I know you are all dying to see what she was wearing right?  What outfit was so trashy that some young man felt the need to approach this woman?

Yes, this young women was wearing a dress, leggings, boots, and a long sleeve sweater. According to the young man that saw her this was immodest.

After seeing this, I again went to the BYU website to see what was specifically stated about dress and Grooming for women. I understand that in the real world, i.e. the workforce, there is often a dress code that one must follow, so I am not arguing that one should be included in the honor code. I was just trying to understand what in this outfit broke that code.

Using the same link as above I scrolled down to dress and grooming and this is what it said:
The dress and grooming of both men and women should always be modest, neat, and clean, consistent with the dignity adherent to representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and any of its institutions of higher education
Reading further you find these specifics for women:
A clean and well-cared-for appearance should be maintained. Clothing is inappropriate when it is sleeveless, strapless, backless, or revealing; has slits above the knee; or is form fitting. Dresses, skirts, and shorts must be knee-length or longer. Hairstyles should be clean and neat, avoiding extremes in styles or colors. Excessive ear piercing (more than one per ear) and all other body piercing are not acceptable. Shoes should be worn in all public campus areas.
With that in mind I went back to her picture. The outfit is neither sleeveless, strapless, backless or revealing. The skirt is short yes, but the leggings are more like pants and, though they are form fitting, she is still covered and therefore not inappropriate in my mind. As a matter of fact, in contrast to what the young man wrote in his note, it is obvious that this young lady put thought and effort into this outfit so she could present a "clean and well-cared for appearance" when she got ready for the day.

Now, I must admit, I looked for rules on leggings specifically. I think that might be the only part of this outfit that might not jive with the dress code. Only because they could be considered form fitting. But there was no specific reference to tight jeans or leggings on the website. According to a Fox News report, jeggings were considered okay for dress code, so why not leggings. Either way, I can't make a firm statement on that.

So now you wonder why I am ranting....  I can't even say whether she is following dress code or not. Why does this bother me? My issue is because some young man decided to take it upon himself to make a young woman feel bad about herself. She obviously put effort into her outfit and this young man felt it necessary to question not only her ability to honor her commitments, but also her modesty and morality. To top it off, he did so in the name of his religion. Regardless of what the woman was wearing, that doesn't fly with me.

I am one of those life long members of the LDS Church. Born and raised, I have even spent quite a few years here in the Happy Valley of Provo, Utah. No where in my religion does it say that I am supposed to guilt others into making right choices. No where does it say that I should approach a stranger and make them feel bad about themselves. I mean really. What part of the teachings of our Savior did this guy read. Everywhere in our gospel it tells us that we should love those around us and treat them kindly.

We are also taught that the trial here on earth is one based on freedom of choice. As a matter of fact, the entire gospel planned is based on that. We chose to follow the Savior because we rejected Lucifer's plan to force us all to obey. Therefore not only are we free to make our own choices but we have to respect the choices of others. Each individual gets to make his or her own choices and either suffer the consequences or enjoy the benefits of that choice.

Therefore, in my eyes this young man broke both of those rules. He decided that it was his responsibility to make this young woman feel bad about herself and her choices by implying that she was rejecting the teachings she had been taught. Then he takes it one step further and questions her honor and ethics. Because he assumed that she was breaking the honor code.

I looked into what is to be done if there is an honor code violation, there is an entire office at the university that takes complaints about such things. If he had an issue, why didn't he send it to them. If there was a problem with her outfit, wouldn't it be the responsibility of a faculty member or an employee of the university to discuss it with this young lady? It is not the responsibility of some guy who doesn't know her from Eve.

Now, taking this one step farther, I have personal experience with this type of young man. I attend a neighboring university here in Provo. Though Utah Valley University is in the same area, as a state school it does not have an honor code. Therefore, there is no dress code (though I think you have to be dressed.) and there are no grooming standards. I have had a green streak in my hair for the past several months. Tonight I change it to purple. This is not a problem at my university.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to the BYU campus to attend a lecture thingy for students who wish to get their Masters in Library Science. Neither BYU nor UVU offers this program, but there were outlining the different ways in which we could find the program. I thought, it wouldn't be a big deal, I was only going to be on BYU campus for a couple of hours.  As I sat in on the lecture, the young man behind me leaned forward to tell me that we are only to have "natural colors" in our hair. I responded that 1) I wasn't a student at BYU and therefore I didn't have to abide by that rule and 2) Why would he think it was his responsibility to reproach me. He was neither my father, nor my ecclesiastical leader. (Okay I really should have said that second part but I didn't think of it till later).

I don't understand why we live in a society in which strangers take it upon themselves to correct others. Why would they think a stranger would value their opinion? Why would they assume that they know what is best for the other person. A person THEY HAVE NEVER MET! It saddens me to see that this exists in our culture. I know it isn't a large part of the Mormon culture, but it can be found and that upsets me.

Whew... that was kinda long.


The Gardener In A Green Dress said...

I have to be candid and say I'm incredibly relieved to hear that not all mormons believe it's their duty to correct others. It's refreshing to meet a real spiritual mormon, not one who blindly follows dogma and uses it as a platform to judge. I guess I haven't had good experiences with them. Glad I stumbled onto your blog.

Soarenth said...

This kind of thing happens all too often and makes me sad. I'm sorry to hear someone told you your hair was wrong. They missed out on the best lessons to be learned at the lecture that day.

The code is not there to let people judge each other. The code is there so individuals can choose improve themselves.

It's because of this kind of thing that I have been waiting weeks for a stranger to walk up to me and say my hair is too extreme for a female because it is a pixie haircut. No one has yet, and it is almost worse that I haven't been able to get the encounter over with. Hmmm, may I'll visit BYU for a few hours.