Saturday, March 05, 2011

The "BYU Honor Code" And The Black College Student - Why So Few Black Opinion Writers "Go There"


When I heard of the saga of the basketball player at Brigham Young University - the Mormon college in Idaho I paid attention to the news coverage to see if anyone "went there" with respect to what I believe is a clear parallel challenge. First some back ground.

You can see from the demographic information about the school above that few Blacks "go there" in the first place. This meaning - that with Blacks representing 0.3% of the student body this likely represents about a few hundred students. While indeed the 66.7% graduation rate for Black students are outstanding - if one or two of these handful of Black students were to drop out - this rate would plummet because there are so few.

The point remains - Why haven't any of the many reporters who talked about the "Honor Code" violation where a basketball player at BYU was suspended from the team - regardless of the negative impact upon the team's ability to win on the basketball court - not choose to cross-reference this enforcement of "institutional standards" with respect to academics?

Every basketball and football season around the nation there is the tale of the Black star athlete who is a marginal student and is "on the bubble" regarding his academic eligibility to play.

  • Suspend him off of the team and the athletic gifts that could be used as his ticket out of the ghetto is taken away from him.
  • Accommodate his academic shortcoming because of his importance to the school's athletic program and the academic integrity of the institution takes a hit

In the case of BYU - the school made it clear which of the two courses they prioritize per their "honor code". Regardless of the cost - they choose to cleave to their "institutional integrity" over the individual. Though the school lost its next game after the suspension to a subpar opponent the school retained their principles.

In The Name Of "Diversity" Will BYU Have To Dilute Its "Honor Code" Or Will Those Seeking Inclusion Have To Submit To The Prevailing Standard?

Are there any two more important challenges facing Black you than "academics" and "sexual related matters"?

  • Unintended pregnancy/ Abortion
  • HIV
  • Condom Distribution
  • Abstinence Only Education
  • Low Graduation rates for Black students
  • Colleges "using" athletes for profits but discarding their academic growth
  • Blacks with a college degree have a present unemployment rate that is lower than the national average. Blacks without a high school diploma are unemployed at Great Depression levels

Typically when "Diversity" is implemented the "receiving body" is asked to make accommodations in order to produce the desired results. In the case of BYU (and of course my opinion) the key suppressive force is the "Honor Code" that all students must submit to. To be clear there is likely a far larger numerical body of "White students" who would refuse to agree tot he "Honor Code" than there are Black.

BYU Honor Code

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.)

To be clear - I have violated just about every one of these bullet point items during my college career. On some of them - I wish I was back in college so I can do some more of them all day long. [ :-) ]

In light of the need for a massive correction WITHIN the Black community - How would the adoption of a "Rites Of Passage" system which implemented at least a few of these honor code elements upon our young people change the present outcomes?

In progressive theoretical discourse the primary point of indictment is the hypocrisy which can be cast upon the "establishment authority" who is charged with enforcing the new standards. The fact that they did not live a virtuous life disqualifies them from dispensing this type of justice upon our present youth population.

Unfortunately what is a good strategy to strip the moral authority from a "corrupt regime" from their attempts at suppression is the wrong tool to consider when the bulk of the "land" left on the journey involves a change in "inner-space".

The build of the struggle thus far was justifiably in pursuit of "justice". Upon hearing the present call to focus on "inner-space" one should expect to hear some references to "blame the victim for his behavior".

We only need to make reference to the "Motown finishing school" of the past to the present day entertainment which "keeps it real and raw". Berry Gordy had a "brand". No act would go on the stage representing his "Motown Studios" without first being sculpted into a certain image that he was attempted to project into the market place. Maxine Powell ran the "Motown Finishing School"

To be clear - Motown's goal was to entertain people, make them feel good and thus purchase records. The Black community's agenda is not quite the same.

At this juncture there is a massive need within the Black community to reconcile our daily repetitive actions with our claimed interest in achieving our "permanent interests". The art of articulating one's RIGHTS and the science of managing one's human resources toward that end could not be more different.

Empowering Institutions

I do not support the shift of all authority to individuals. Such a strategy inevitably leads to the dictatorial oppression that the rest of the world seems to be rejecting.

The power needs to be placed in institutions. These institutions need to have sufficient checks and balances to ensure that transparency is ultimately produced as a byproduct. Even the leader is subjected to the same enforcements that he/she must express through the system.

An individual man is flawed. Ultimately selfishness will produce some type of compromise. With the maintenance of the integrity of the institution as the primary goal while being conscious of the need for compassion - the conditions into which our future children will be born into has a better chance of being better than what we were received into.

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