Mormon Colleges Quite Similar To IFB Colleges

honor code referral card

Honor Code referral card used at BYU in the 1990′s. It is no longer used.

When people hear about the rules at Independent Fundamentalist Baptist(IFB) colleges, they rightly think there is a whole lot of crazy going on at IFB schools. They also often wrongly think that this kind of crazy ONLY goes on at IFB schools. What follows is an excerpt from the Brigham Young University Undergraduate Catalog for 2011-12. This excerpt comes from the Church Educational Honor Code:

Honor Code Statement

Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University—Hawaii, Brigham Young University—Idaho, and LDS Business College exist to provide an education in an atmosphere consistent with the ideals and principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That atmosphere is created and preserved through commitment to conduct that reflects those ideals and principles. Members of the faculty, administration, staff, and student body at BYU, BYU—Hawaii, BYU—Idaho, and LDSBC are selected and retained from among those who voluntarily live the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Observance of such is a specific condition of employment and admission. Those individuals who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are also expected to maintain the same standards of conduct, except church attendance. All who represent BYU, BYU—Hawaii, BYU—Idaho, and LDSBC are to maintain the highest standards of honor, integrity, morality, and consideration of others in personal behavior…

…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

Homosexual Behavior

Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or attraction and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. Members of the university community can remain in good Honor Code standing if they conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code.

One’s stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.

Dress and Grooming Standards

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.

Modesty and cleanliness are important values that reflect personal dignity and integrity, through which students, staff, and faculty represent the principles and standards of the Church. Members of the BYU community commit themselves to observe the following standards, which reflect the direction of the Board of Trustees and the Church publication For the Strength of Youth. The Dress and Grooming Standards are as follows:

byu beard approval card

BYU men are required to have a medical reason to wear a beard. Card from 1992.


A clean and well-cared-for appearance should be maintained. Clothing is inappropriate when it is sleeveless, revealing, or form fitting. Shorts must be knee-length or longer. Hairstyles should be clean and neat, avoiding extreme styles or colors, and trimmed above the collar, leaving the ear uncovered. Sideburns should not extend below the earlobe or onto the cheek. If worn, moustaches should be neatly trimmed and may not extend beyond or below the corners of the mouth. Men are expected to be clean-shaven; beards are not acceptable. Earrings and other body piercing are not acceptable. Shoes should be worn in all public campus areas.


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.

These are not the arcane, prohibitive rules on an IFB college meeting in a church basement. Brigham Young has an enrollment of over 30,000 students and plays Division 1 sports. Every so often, an athlete get suspended because they violated one of the honor code rules. This has proved to be quite an embarrassment for Brigham Young, so much so, that they are no longer going to announce athlete honor code suspensions. Instead they are going to label the suspensions a “violation of team rules,” the same lame, non-specific explanation non-Mormon schools use.

mormon honor code posters

BYU Honor Code Posters, circa 2006?

Comments (9)

  1. Paula

    All these super strict dress codes are incredible to me. I believe in being reasonably modest and dressing appropriately to the time and place. By the time people are grown and at college, if they can’t be trusted to know how to dress and groom themselves within these parameters, then they haven’t been very well brought up, have they?

    My younger brother was once a prime example of this. He usually went around in cargo pants and t-shirts, combat boots from the army surplus–not shined–with a scraggly beard. He lived at home and commuted to university. One day my mother was so surprised to see him on his way out. He was wearing a suit, shined wingtips, his graduation watch, cologne, a fresh haircut, and had trimmed his beard. She asked where he was going. He told her he had an appointment to defend his dissertation with a professor. She could have argued with him constantly about what he wore, but why? He was graduated summa cum laude anyway.

    My brother still dresses badly, in my opinion. When our mother died last year, I asked him in private if he had anything to wear to the funeral and he said he did. I let it go, and sure enough, he was properly dressed that morning. He obviously keeps a set of decent clothes tucked away because he knows there are a few occasions when they aren’t optional.

    How one wears their hair, or whether they have a beard, is a very personal form of self expression and need not be micromanaged by others.

    I can’t imagine how stifling it would be to be required to dress the same for a casual afternoon on campus as for church or a job interview.

    Are all these institutional micro managers trying to break everyone’s spirit? If so, I don’t think great ideas or inventions come forth from people with broken spirits. If real colleges dealt in the breaking of spirits, the graduates wouldn’t be much use to society.

  2. Paula

    Out of curiosity, I went to the website of John Brown University, the Christian university closest to me. (My SIL graduated from there.)They say they expect students to dress and behave by Christian standards, but will not load them down with rules. Their student handbook is available online. Far more of the pages are filled with help for the students than with rules. The rules are pretty basic and much is left up to discretion.

    There is a lot of information about local shopping and attractions. They obviously expect young adults to be out and about.

    As you would expect, alcohol is forbidden. They do not approve of premarital sex. But they do not discourage touching, kissing and affection. They ask that PDA be kept tasteful.

    They have no little student police forms for snitching on one another.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I don’t have as much problem with the rules as I do the punishment for breaking them. Codes of conduct are fine as long as the punishment for breaking it is not punitive. These are teens, young adults we are talking out. Most people in this age group are likely sexually active, so expecting them to be celibate is unreasonable. Same goes for alcohol. It is one thing to say no alcohol in the dorm…far different thing to ban all alcohol consumption while a person is a student.

      Many Christian oriented colleges have a public student handbook and a private school handbook. The public one anyone can see. The private one is far more detailed and is given to students after they enroll.

      1. Paula

        I confess I didn’t even think that there could be two different handbooks. If there were, comparison could really be interesting. However, my SIL has never mentioned any extreme rules and regulations. Neither did my cousin or my husband’s friend, both of whom went there.

        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          It varies from place to place. IFB colleges are notorious for giving kids a generic rule book and then when the kids enroll they get the real draconian incarceration rule book.

  3. Appalachian Agnostic

    What could possibly be a medical reason to have a beard?

    1. Paula

      There is some skin condition where frequent shaving causes lots of ingrown hairs. The military sometimes makes shaving exceptions for this reason. The condition is more common in black men because of the extreme tendency of the hair to curl.

      1. Appalachian Agnostic

        Paula, that makes sense. Thanks.

  4. Stephanie

    I get some of it and is reasonable but of course they had to throw the crazy in with it. But all the stuff about how you dress down to the last detail and how you wear you hair, that is just control freak stuff, in my opinion.


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