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?