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Hey Dave. Check this thread for some arguments.


Although the circumstance looks interesting, I cannot help but wonder if the poor victimized man was counting on some free advertising to help peddle his sordid merchandise. It seems likely that he cares not at all about BYU or its standards. Stories from the SLTrib on such issue are notoriously one-sided and inaccurate.

I found what seems to be the policy at issue:

Withholding the Posting of a Degree or Denying Graduation Participation

Withholding the Posting of a degree or denying graduation participation is used in all cases of probation and on a case-by-case basis, when criteria such as the following exist for withholding the posting or denying graduation for violation of the Honor Code when all other requirements for graduation have been met. As noted in the BYU Bulletin: Undergraduate Catalog, "Graduation may be delayed or denied for students who violate the BYU Honor Code, whose ecclesiastical endorsement has been withdrawn, or who have unmet financial obligation with the university." The criteria include:

1. Excommunication, disfellowshipment, or disaffiliation from the Church
2. Serious violation of position of trust or responsibility within the university
3. Serious criminal activity or offense, including predatory behavior or crimes against another person, or the discovery of such a prior offense
4. Egregious academic dishonesty
5. Discovery of a violation that occurred prior to graduation and if it had been detected earlier would have resulted in dismissal from the university
6. If a student is not in good Honor Code standing, the university will not award a degree. Any HCO hold, warning, or probation must have been properly cleared before graduation.

All decisions to delay or deny posting of a degree or participating in graduation ceremonies due to misconduct are made in consultation with the university Office of General Counsel and the Graduation Evaluation Office. If the diploma is to be held, the student may request a university review through the dean of students.

Journalists play fast and loose with verbs these days. If BYU really "yanked" his diploma after they issued it, then Mr. Hardy would have something to complain about. As it stands, they are merely refusing to issue it due to a failure to meet religious standards Mr. Hardy freely agreed to when he decided to go to BYU in the first place.

I understand BYU is subsidized by tithe payers to the tune of 300 million dollars a year. It is a private organization and can make its own rules for good standing. A diploma is an honor it can choose not to bestow on a student who has shown blatant disregard for the beliefs of the people who subsidized his education in the first place.

Mr. Hardy should have anticipated such a response and made preparations to graduate from a more secular institution.

As a Ute, I am not sure if this should be viewed as a bad thing for Hardy.

Keep in mind that it was only a few months ago that Kent Walton, a star baseball player on the BYU team, was kicked out of the school for allegedly not attending his assigned BYU ward regularly enough (while he was evidently attending at other wards). When public reaction was negative, the star athelete suddenly had his ecclesiastical endorsement back in place, was reinstated to BYU, and was back on the team. These policies may be in print, but it appears they're enforced at the whim of administrators, and are influenced by public relations.

In Chad Hardy's case, the excommunication was after he completed his requirements, and after he walked through the graduation ceremony. I highly doubt that Hardy's stake president secretly timed his excommunication with the intent of interfering with him getting his degree, but BYU's actions here really do appear to be a malicious and vindictive toward someone who committed the unpardonable sin of creating bad publicity for the LDS church.

Speaking of bad publicity, isn't this decision by BYU creating more bad publicity for the church?

Very nicely stated, Dave. There are actually two separate issues of concern here that I see.

1) Actively imposing temporal penalties for what is usually stated to be a strictly spiritual affair should raise a much greater number of eyebrows than seem to be currently raised.

2) Actions like this and the earlier dismissal of Jeffrey Nielson from the Philosophy department, make BYU appear to be more interested in conformity and suppressing any form of dissent than in (what should be) its primary mission of education.

For comparison, the sad case of Jan Hendrik Schon is one to remember. He has the highly regarded, and then, even more highly repudiated, Bell Labs physicist who had faked his data. In particular, the University of Konstanz revoked his doctoral degree because of his dishonorable conduct. His university degree work was unrelated to his later, fraudulent work.

Dave, would you have a problem with BYU kicking out a current student for not abiding by the Honor Code? This is only small degrees away from that.

This kind of news makes me feel so miserable. Are we really supposed to be angry at BYU for enforcing the standards?

Dave, I realize your talking policy here as opposed to retribution, but on a scale of 1 to 100 measuring mean spiritedness, I give this about an 87. To get to 100 they would have to hold a stoning.

From the BYU website:

"Honor Code Suspension

Honor Code Suspension is used when the student's violation is egregious or repetitive. The student may be required to discontinue immediately from current classes or at the end of the term or semester as determined by individual circumstances. The student is prevented from subsequent enrollment until satisfactory completion of the specified conditions is verified and the Honor Code registration hold has been removed.

Honor Code Dismissal

Honor Code Dismissal is used (a) when a student, after having been suspended once, returns to the university and again seriously violates the Honor Code or (b) when a student is involved in egregious violations, particularly if a serious threat to others is present. The student may be required to discontinue immediately from current classes or at the end of the term or semester as determined by individual circumstances and is permanently prevented from subsequent enrollment."

As far as I can tell, the degree was never officially issued; therefore the implication in the article that BYU rescinded an awarded degree is incorrect.

Apparently, he has completed his coursework, but did not fulfill all the requirements for graduation as published in the catalog.

Requirements for graduation are published here: http://saas.byu.edu/catalog/2007-2008ucat/graduation.aspx?lms=18

This is the current catalog, and he would be bound by whatever one he was admitted under, but I assume the requirements are essentially the same, or the university wouldn't have felt confident in withholding the degree.

The published requirements are clear. "Students are required to be in good Honor Code standing to graduate."

Since the catalog lists the requirements, and he didn't complete them, I don't think he has a legal leg to stand on.

The relevant point emerges in the stated BYU policy quoted above by Justin:

All decisions to delay or deny posting of a degree or participating in graduation ceremonies due to misconduct are made in consultation with the university Office of General Counsel and the Graduation Evaluation Office.

In other words, despite all the carefully worded rules that give the impression of objective standards, whether or not a degree gets denied to an otherwise deserving graduate ultimately rests on the (arbitrary) decision of certain BYU adminstrators. Now that decision may sometimes reflect sound judgment, but it can also reflect political or institutional interests that have little to do with the merits of the individual case.

It would be fine if they simply declined to accept a student's reenrollment the following semester. But refusing to award a degree because of excommunication or disaffiliation after all the requirements for a degree have been met appears to be an exercise of discretion designed solely to harm or punish a former LDS member. That is wrong and is against the general LDS policy of how former members are to be treated. You don't kick them on the way out the door.

There is a very easy solution for the conflict here. The Church should divest itself of BYU. Then BYU can quit pretending that much of anything about it justifies its claim to be the Lord's University and the Church can quit throwing so much money down the rabbit hole.

As it is, every BYU student is on a de facto religious scholarship, and the university is under constant pressure to demonstrate that it produces religious benefits large enough to justify its tithing subsidy. The students are there primarily to get a degree, but the University is there primarily to turn out committed Latter-Day Saints.

As a result, conflicts like these are inevitable. The easiest way to solve it is to dispense with the illusion that BYU inculcates religion any more effectively than Harvard or Yale.

Unfortunately, we do not yet know sufficient facts to be able to judge righteously. Had all of the graduation requirements been met by the time the degree should have been issued? Can one register and graduate from BYU if not a member of the Church, but may not leave the Church once registered? Is the publication of a beefcake calendar an "egregious" offense, or is a publication of a dozen beefcake photos a "repeated" offense? Are the standards enforced at the whim of administrators? Was this decision made by someone on the Board of Trustees or by some functionary, "knowing" what the BoT would like done - but without specific instructions?

These matters may be brought out in a legal action, and then I will have more data with which to judge.

It is useful to read things the publisher of the calendar has said about his religious affiliation and how long it has been irrelevant to his attitudes, lifestyle or thoughts. It very much appears that ...

For more discussion and comments, see the new T&S post making the point that the primary effect of the BYU action is to give Calendar Guy another big helping of free advertising. I'm guessing he'll do a "famous and successful people kicked out of BYU" calendar in a year or two.

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