Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Alaska Voices Columnist Kevin Clarkson Publishes Defense Of BYU's Suspension Of Brandon Davies For Honor Code Violation

Despite the fact that many criticized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for promoting California Proposition 8 in 2008, many have rallied to the Church's side after one of its universities, Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, suspended star basketball player Brandon Davies for an honor code violation. Although BYU did not initially reveal the specific nature of the violation, it is now known that Davies, who is LDS, did violate the requirement for sexual chastity, although not with his Arizona State University girlfriend Danica Mendivil. Instead, he actually cheated on Mendivil and started a sexual relationship with another LDS girl, Jayci Stephen, who's a student at nearby Utah Valley University, and got her pregnant.

In its official statement, the LDS Church notes that "the suspension of BYU basketball player Brandon Davies has caused a torrent of news coverage across the country debating the merits of the University’s honor code. The majority of news reports have been favorable toward BYU’s decision to adhere to its standards, despite the impact to a 'dream basketball season'.” They also refer to a post published by LDS Public Affairs Director Michael Otterson in the On Faith blog of the Washington Post.

But now a prominent Alaska pundit has joined the chorus of support for BYU's decision. In a column entitled "Nice To Know Principle Still Means Something To Some Folks", Kevin Clarkson, one of the regular Alaska Voices columnists whose output is published by the Anchorage Daily News, commends BYU for standing on principle even though suspending Brandon Davies could cost them a shot at the NCAA championship. BYU, which was 27-3 at the time of the suspension, was expected to possibly progress to the Final Four. Davies was the team's leading rebounder and third leading scorer. Clarkson is not LDS; he's a social conservative who has publicly spoken out against elective abortion and exalting homosexuals as a "protected class". Specifically, Clarkson writes the following:

...Each and every BYU student, athlete or not, voluntarily signs onto the University's Honor Code when they are accepted to attend the school. By signing the Honor Code students promise to live their lives in accordance with the Code and they agree to accept the consequences when they do not. By signing onto the BYU Honor Code, Davies promised to live a chaste life and to refrain from premarital sex.

No one forced Davies or any other BYU student to sign onto the Honor Code. Davies and every other BYU student had a choice to attend college elsewhere. There is no exception in the Code for star athletes. The Code applies to every student exactly the same -- even if it costs the University the fame and fortune of going to the Final Four. After Davies' suspension, the Cougars proceeded to lose their very next game to an unranked opponent, and on their home court no less.

Many schools have different standards for jocks and ordinary students. Not BYU -- they enforce the honor code equally among all students. Furthermore, BYU not only is privately-owned by the LDS Church, but the Church partially subsidizes the tuition of LDS students by charging them a lower tuition rate. So it is only logical that they have a right to impose higher expectations upon their students than public universities.

In a nutshell, the provisions of BYU's Honor Code, which apply equally at all LDS-owned colleges, are as follows:

-- 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

It should be noted that non-LDS students are NOT required to attend LDS church services, but are required to participate regularly in services at the church of their choice. Gay students can attend BYU, but must refrain from homosexual behavior to comply with the Honor Code.

For his part, it appears that Brandon Davies is handling the situation like a man and has taken full ownership of it. It is unknown whether or not Davies might face Church discipline from his bishop or stake president; because Davies has owned up to it, excommunication from the LDS Church is unlikely because he committed fornication rather than adultery. Disfellowshipment would be the maximum likely penalty. Consequently, BYU Coach Dave Rose looks forward to the possibility that Davies might return next year. "There are a lot of things that have yet to be determined as far as the university and administration is concerned," Rose said. "I know his heart is in the right place. He's a great young man. I hope we can keep him in the program. He feels really bad for the fact that this his happening at this time."

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