Forever Young: Student Protest BYU Ban on Beards

200px-BYU_Medallion_Logo.svg175px-Brigham_Young_by_Charles_William_CarterThere 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.

640px-Brigham_Young_MonumentUniversity 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.

25 thoughts on “Forever Young: Student Protest BYU Ban on Beards”

  1. And to further educate the ignorant masses:

    ModernMiner: BY never claimed the cited revelation.
    BarkinDog: BYU is perennially one of the best valued schools. Wasting your money is not something you need to worry about.
    Darren Smith: There will be no litigation. It’s a private school.
    Free NYC Pics: BYU takes no public money. And neither does the LDS church. Which is in stark contrast to its philanthropy.

  2. The ignorance that abounds is amusing. Let me count the ways….

    First, this is not something that has just “now” happened. This has been the policy for many, many years. Decades. Too little, way too late, good professor.

    Second, the rule is about being clean-shaven and presentable. A policy, might I add, that undoubtedly has led to BYU being acknowledged not only as a good academic institution, but one with attractive people. If you want a rational basis for this rule, particularly for a religious school intent on getting its student body married off, you’ve got it:

    Third, the rule has its exceptions. I had a roommate at BYU with a beard.

    Fourth, if students want to protest a rule they knew existed and agreed to before coming to the university, their dissatisfaction is a bit tardy. They should go somewhere else. I don’t see any reason to pander to masochists.

    1. Free NYC Pics – if the students vote for it then they should serve coffee and Coke. It worked for the beards.

    1. And they should be able to drink coffe and Coke. I see no problem here. Students of America Unite!

  3. Flush yourself, BarkinDog. Its a great state, people & country, I enjoy being in Utah a couple of months a year. Heaven knows what else you said that JT had to flush!

  4. Did the students ask for a new vote to re-visit this issue? Just wondering. It’s nice if the university can allow the students some self-determination on minor issues such as this. I can understand the ban on alcohol since it is deeply embedded in their religious belief, but for the university to take a stand on a little facial hair is rather silly.

    1. iconoclast – if they let the students vote on the beards do you think they would allow them to vote to have coffee on campus? 😉

  5. So the university official claims that students approved the rule and therefore it stands. I guess the implication is that if the students approved a rule preventing women from enrolling that would be also acceptable. Perhaps the university should take a strong look at the potential litigation it will face if a person belonging to a religious group that requires its male members wear beards, such as the Amish and Sikhs, are required to shave their beards or leave.

    1. Darren – you forget they are a private university and get to enroll who they want. However, some universities are very amiable to their students religious needs. Creighton University built a sand box for a Navajo medicine man so he could make sand paintings for his medicine (he roomed next to me).

  6. A ban on beards??? Hmmm. Sounds like double entendre Irish Poem time!

    Out, And About???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    When Francis showed up with his beard,
    His friends in the know, they all sneered!
    But Francis just beamed,
    For as queer as it seemed,
    Some folks never knew he was weird.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  7. If the students wished to present themselves as beardless, and the enrolle knew that, why the petition? This is not a religious issue but rather only the wishes of the majority.

  8. A 7 foot Amish center, who can rebound and shoot, would settle this beard nonsense quickly.

    1. Nick – it would have to be an 8′ center who can score 26 a game and pull about 18 rebounds. 🙂

  9. Kids do not waste your money and precious time going to a university in Utah named after that guy.

  10. The shaving cream reference is to the revelation that Pepsi was okay to drink after they were given a lot of Pepsi stock. 🙂

  11. I live in Mormon country and there is not a beard to be seen. 🙂 Although banning them seems a little over the edge even for BYU. They must have stock in some shaving cream company.

  12. If it’s really important, Thomas Monson will have a sudden revelation about banning facial hair and that will be the end of it. Sort of like when Brigham Young had a sudden revelation about banning polygamy when Utah’s statehood depended on it.

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