Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Man Bun Ban: How It Represents Everything I Despise About Church Schools

First off, let me say that as a proud BYU graduate, and regular utilizer of BYU-I interns, I do have some nice things to say about schools owned and operated by the LDS church. They have lovely campuses filled with great people. They employ many passionate and interesting and intelligent and kind professors. The students are generally hard working and excited to learn. The clean lifestyle promoted by the church makes the LDS college experience unique in a wonderful way.

But there are definitely some things that irk me about church-owned schools, and this article, which has been shared with differing responses by several of my Facebook friends, re-lit an angry fire that has lain dormant in my heart since I left Provo in 2006.

The gist of the article is this: As part of its ongoing campaign to force students into complying with the visible components of the Honor Code, BYU-Idaho just laid down a specific ban on the "man bun" hairstyle. The justification for the school's recent Man Bun Ban (and any previous bans that have been made on other "deviant" hairstyles) is that the powers that be have determined that the man bun falls outside the dress and grooming standards identified in the school's Honor Code.

This ban represents everything I despise about church schools.

And the reason can be boiled down to one word: honor.

Honor is something that comes from within. It can't be forced from without. It can't be administered by an office. It can't be created with bans. If a student signs a Code of Honor, it should be up to that student to ensure that he or she is living up to that code to the best of his/her understanding and ability. It should NEVER be the school's responsibility to ensure that students are "living with honor."

In fact, it takes away from each student's personal dignity to tell them that they're giving their word of honor by signing the code, and then setting into place an "honor enforcement" system that clearly sends the message, "We don't trust you to keep your word."

Instead of focusing so much on forcing students to follow an ever-growing list of regulations and nit-picky rules, church schools would do well to emphasize the importance of integrity and keeping your word. Yes, this might mean that some people will interpret the man bun as being a perfectly acceptable hairstyle under the school's dress code standards. But is that really so bad?


Abe said...

Rachel and I talked about this a bit. I'm not upset by the actions the school has taken, but I am a little disappointed. It seems to me that little signs like these "extreme" hairstyles are the very thing that would be useful for determining who the individuals are who could maybe use a little more attention, more help. When students are obligated to conform, their "rebellion" is less visible, and school leaders can pat themselves on the back about stamping out a less-than-perfect image. However, it most likely does nothing to change the heart of the student that has to conform. It makes me wonder about where the priorities lie.

Peggy said...

ok, I'm so glad to have a way to talk to you. I MMIISSSSS you. I know we didn't always get to visit at church or 3 doors down, but knowing you were there was enough. So this isn't about your man-bun blog..actually, I agree with both you and Abe and both from a student and instructor perspective. I've always wondered why as a student, I signed that honor code and as an instructor, students who have no intention of honoring the honor code sign it. With the honor code in place, I have seen all the rules broken and to 'no avail.' Management keeps making up more rules because students find new ways to push the limit....me, I just blantantly and boldly jumped the fence; that gets one expelled--faster than plagerizing. Enough on that...

Rachel. do you remember a thousand years ago, ok, not that long--you're not that old, even though I feel I am....when we were sitting in Primary and the leaders were doing the Fail the test and it's (you're) bad, pass the test and you are good thing? I leaned over said, I so hate that test word."? Well, at 61, I FINALLY have an answer I can live with. Sheri Dew in her book, "If Life were easy, it wouldn't be hard," says that "life is a test to help us determine if we want to be part of God's kingdom MORE than we want anything else." I can live with that explanation. It's no longer about me keeping or breaking the rules, being good or being bad, being clean-shaven or wearing a man-bun; it's about what do I want most.
It's a good thing I finally learned that lesson. I'm not always so good about keeping all the rules.

Asa said...

Funny, I figured they made a public statement about it not being honor-code worthy because there was a lot of confusion about it. I have seen a lot of people strolling around campus with it, so I thought it had to do with people wondering if it was "honor-code" worthy. The church simply came out and said, no. It's not. Not as a way to control, but to clarify. Does that make sense?

heidi said...

I'm not sure where my contribution to this might fit, but... I grew up in a tradition that made me immensely sympathetic to the LDS conviction of Direct Personal Revelation. At least, as I understood that. I was raised in a church--the "Disciples of Christ"--that was formed at the same time, and in a similar part of the country, as the Latter Day Saints... It was a less divergent sect, but one that stated that we are ALL disciples, not followers-of-disciples. But my parents exposed me to much beyond that single sect, and so I inherited what felt like an ancient tradition of Direct Revelation--the mysticism of St. Francis and the visions of Hildegard of Bingen and the testimonies/ radically loving and self-sacrificing examples of the Quakers. They emulate(d) Jesus in a way that is rare in this world. (Not exclusively, of course. There are the Nixons of that tradition, somehow.) This mystical tradition I inherited is one where human bureaucracy never intervenes/ is allowed to interfere... God speaks to the heart and one follows the voice of God into the wilderness and back... ceaseless prayer becomes part and parcel of ordinary existence. Without much adherence to convention, or even, maybe, "common sense." I'm not sure of the dress code. And I think in the rather farflung tradition I inherited, humans aren't allowed to ex-communicate or censor other humans--only God can. There's a wonderful YA book that seems to me to manifest this path in an incredibly accessible way--the moral and spiritual sensibility are made manifest without any discussion of theology. At least--that's what I recall. Maybe I read that context INTO the text and it isn't there. I wonder if I still have a copy somewhere, of http://www.amazon.com/Witch-Blackbird-Elizabeth-George-

heidi said...

(The Witch of Blackbeard Pond.)


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