BYU students' conversation with an HC offical
Edited for clarity
HCO official: I have three and a half minutes, so… [they ended up going for 9.5 minutes]
BYU student: Perfect, perfect, I’ll lay it out. So, the idea is, homosexual behavior will not be penalized by the Honor Code Office?
HCO official: It is not currently a violation of the Honor Code—according to the Honor Code that we have, it is not currently prohibited by the Honor Code. The clause that talked about that has been removed; intentionally removed.
BYU student: Okay, by the Board of Trustees?
HCO official: um-hum.
BYU student: Now, they can be in homosexual relationships and not be expelled from the University as long as it doesn’t… well first off… they can be in homosexual relationships as long as it doesn’t eventuate in marriage?
HCO official: They will not be found in violation of the Honor Code.
BYU student: Is the thing about relationships not leading to marriage legitimate, or is it an interpretation of the people that asked about it?
HCO official: Here’s the thing…<<getting testy>> everything you’re hearing is an interpretation. I don’t understand what’s the lack of clarity… we’ve said the same thing like ten times. Everything is obviously an interpretation. Has it been given in a specific script from the Board of Trustees? No. No! We’re required to do that in conjunction with the advice that we’ve received from them, and they are aware of what is going on.
BYU student: So, they give you a principle which is, “We’re taking this out of the Honor Code,” and then people interpreted that here—
HCO official: And then we met with our administration to determine how we’re going to address these issues, yes.
BYU student: So, President Worthen, the Dean of Student Life, you guys here, you’re all on board with the answer, the interpretation that has been given to everybody?
HCO official: Yes. And I promise that if the Board of Trustees has a problem with it, you will hear about that.
BYU student: Right. Again, it’s only been 48 hours so they might come up with something. But as for right now, it’s confusing, because I know that they [the HCO] keep answering calls and saying, “We can’t give you an answer right now…” which is what a lot of people have been hearing; that, “We don’t have a lot of information right now,” or that, “It’ll be handled on a case-by-case basis.”
HCO official: We’re directing people to come meet with us on a one-on-one individual basis. We’re prioritizing our time with students—that’s who we have a responsibility to. If the outside community is upset with things, I feel bad, but we don’t have a responsibility to them right now. We have a responsibility to the students that we work with.
BYU student: There’s a newsletter that just came out for the alumni recently that did talk about all the other things [i.e. the changes to the Handbook of Instructions] and the Honor Code and apparently there was hardly anything about the Honor Code right now. Are you trying to buy time? Should I wait to get more information from the Board of Trustees?
HCO official: <<heavy, audible sigh>>
BYU student: I’m not trying to criticize—
HCO official: I think I’ve been very clear—
BYU student: I’m just trying to be honest—
HCO official: And I understand, I appreciate you coming in and you sound sincere, and I feel I’ve been as clear as I can possibly be—
BYU student: With the information you have—
HCO official: And I don’t think I can say the same thing again in any other way than I’ve already said it.
BYU student: I understand. Um, good luck—
HCO official: I really appreciate that, thank you.
BYU student: I really mean that, because I don’t think it’s “on you,” you know what I’m saying?
HCO official: Here’s the thing that gives me confidence if I have any sort of concern about a Church policy, a BYU policy, regardless—to me it’s about the leadership, right? I’ll bring faith into this; because I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that there’s a living prophet on the earth today, and so I take my cues from him.
BYU student: Sure, yes.
HCO official: And I also know that that prophet sits at the head of the Board of Trustees, so if something comes out about BYU that I don’t necessarily understand or that I’m not really sure about, I take comfort in knowing that the Board of Trustees is led by the First Presidency and four members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They are dealing with these things on an everyday basis; it’s not just “Yeah, that’s one of my assignments, but I haven’t checked in with them in a year!” They are keenly aware of the things that are going on. So even when I don’t have a full understanding of what’s going on, I trust that they’re leading things in a way that has to do with revelation and inspiration. Now, if somebody’s not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I don’t expect them to have that view; I totally wouldn’t expect that. But because I do, because I have a testimony that he’s a prophet of God, that’s my confidence. So, if I don’t understand exactly where its coming from, I eventually feel that I will have that faith rewarded.
BYU student: Boy, you’ve been thrown into the furnace, not by them [BoT] necessarily, but as we have it, the PR preparation wasn’t done very well.
HCO official: The people who make those decisions are not here, and I cannot answer for them. If you would like to talk to Carrie Jenkins about BYU’s roll out of things, then feel free to talk to her…, um, she’s probably pretty busy right now.
BYU student: <<chuckles>> Heh, like everybody else right now. Is she the one that’s responsible for the Twitter account and those types of things?
HCO official: BYU Communications runs the BYU Twitter account.
BYU student: You see what I’m saying? I mean, you put some guy there, and he’s—
HCO official: He’s not— BYU’s Twitter account, BYU’s Instagram account is run by BYU Communications. They are not just some random person; they are aware of what’s going on with these things. It’s not a student that runs those accounts. It’s not some random administrator who other people are not aware of what’s going on with them.
BYU student: But people do come with their own ideology, though, right—
HCO official: It has to come from the person who can sign off on it.
BYU student: Okay, I got it.
HCO official: It’s a comforting thing when we disagree with a policy to say, “That one probably wasn’t inspired; that one probably didn’t come from the important people.” And it’s a comforting thing when a policy that comes around that we do agree with, to say, “No that one’s inspired; that one did come from the right people.”
BYU student: And that’s my issue, I’m dead serious, if the Prophet comes up—because that’s the thing, it’s not very transparent right now. I mean, most people know who the Board of Trustees is; we have a vague idea that some General Authority is on it, the Prophet ideally—but the statement from the Board of Trustees was not the same as the communication [from the BYU Twitter] because we don’t have a—
HCO official: The statement from the Board of Trustees is that there is no longer a prohibition for any of those homosexual activities that were previously in the Honor Code. They specifically removed that from there. And legally we are not allowed to enforce a policy that is not in the Honor Code.
BYU student: Yeah, but that’s the catch. Is that their [the HCO] interpretation of the Handbook [of Instructions]? Is it to allow, you know, sexual—
HCO official: What I read to you, that is not an interpretation. That is from the Handbook. So, I’d encourage you to read that, and if you find different information than what I’ve found, let me know.
BYU student: So, here’s the thing, though, when you get a temple recommend and they ask you about whether you keep the Law of Chastity, they don’t just mean sex, right?
HCO official: Exactly. This is the way it is clarified in the Church Handbook.
BYU student: Right, so, any interpretation that would go against this [CHoI] would be against the Honor Code?
HCO official: Right, yes; so, if you are in a co-habitation, civil union, or same-sex marriage, that is in violation of the Honor Code, absolutely.
BYU student: And dating?
HCO official: That is not in here. This [pointing to the section of the CHoI] is what describes the Law of Chastity and fidelity in the Handbook.
BYU student: <<reading>> abstinence from sexual relationships outside of marriage between a man and a woman…
HCO official: Read that whole thing and that is what is in there. If you think I’m hiding something, feel free to point—
BYU student: No, no! That’s not what I’m—
HCO official: <<garbled>> believe that there are statements in the Church Handbook that say that acting on homosexual behavior is against the Law of Chastity. It does not say that in the Church Handbook. [I think he got his words mixed up here].
BYU student: So, two men that are dating for a couple of years, they don’t have sex, but they’re good to go then, right?
HCO official: But they live together—
BYU student: No, no, they don’t live together, they live separate. They each have their own apartment, but they see each other every day—
HCO official: What does “good to go” mean? I’m talking about a minimum standard for continued enrollment at the University. That does not mean that is the way we’re prescribing you to live your life. That does not mean these are the best practices or that these are the things God wants you to do with your life. This is a minimum standard for continued enrollment at the University.
BYU student: Perfect. I appreciate your time I don’t mean to take so much of it.
HCO official: No, it was nice to meet you and I appreciate you coming in. I understand the concern; I definitely do for sure. But I promise that if something [here at the HCO] is not in line, you will hear about it. The Church is not shy about speaking out when they feel like something is not in line with what they have talked about.
BYU student: Alright, well, good luck and take care.