There is an interesting protest growing on the campus of Brigham Young University where students are opposing a rule imposed by the school. The subject of the protests is rather unique. No it is not a war protest or some other usual campus cause. It is facial hair. The university has banned beards, a curious rule to be sure for a school named after Brigham Young who would have been banned from campus due to his facial hair.
The fact is that the university is a religious organization founded and run by the Mormon church. Moreover, students sign an agreement to live by the tenets of the church at the university which includes a ban on alcohol consumption, premarital sex, tattoos, and now beards.
However, Notre Dame, Brandeis, and Georgetown and other schools are religiously founded by religious organizations or religious groups but guarantee a far broader scope of free expression and free choice, even in violation of the teachings of their churches. BYU has been very successful in advancing strong academic programs and faculties. Yet, this controversy will likely erode that international image as an academic center of learning as opposed to a religious school.
Students have been wearing paper beards in protest to the rule and participating in a “Bike for Beards” demonstration.
University spokeswoman Carri Jenkins insisted that students approved the rule and that “It’s nothing against beards. It’s just how we choose to represent ourselves at the university.” Well, it seems a tad in the category of anti-beard to ban beards. They might want to organize a bike trip to Salt Lake City where Young stand prominently with a beard.
Moreover, that BYU Honor Code was passed in the 1940s. Much has changed for the better for BYU as an academic institution since that time from a largely dismissed school to one with a growing reputation.
They have a ready made theme song of course to proclaim “Hair, flow it, show it; Long as God can grow, my hair.”
In 1971, then-university President Dallin Oaks admitted that the rule would have to be likely changed in the future. That was 43 years ago. When he defended the rule, he insisted that beards gave a “slovenly appearance” and were inextricably linked to “protest, revolution and rebellion against authority. They are also symbols of hippie and drug culture.” You mean like this rebel?
It appears that he would be wise to avoid the BYU campus gatherings like this one for the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . . . at least not as a registered student.