Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chapter 15 The Honor Code

As a senior in High School, I received an acceptance packet from Brigham Young University, the school of my choice. I was elated that my academic efforts had paid off. Among the papers in the packet, one read:

The Honor Code

The Honor Code is the statement including the rules of conduct that a student must live by at BYU.

On BYU’s campus there is an office, full of staff whose sole purpose in life is to make sure that BYU students are living by the Honor Code rules. They punish those who break those laws. In the Honor Code Office, they have a “Ten Most Wanted” wall. On this wall you’ll find framed pictures of clean cut boys and girls. The first picture on that wall is of Brigham Christiansen. He is wanted for cheating on an ethics test. Molly Mormane’s countenance is shining in her eyes in the 2nd picture. However she was caught wearing her skirt too high: 1 inch above the knee. The third picture is of Moroni Tafua, the football player who drank a Bartles and James premium wine cooler after the game. Then there’s Josiah Smith IV. He got busted for not shaving his face for 2 days without having a beard card. The fifth picture frames Enos Johnson. Poor, Enos, he didn’t do anything wrong. He simply had an uber-Mormon name that easily rhymed with a sex organ. Since the Honor Code discourages even the appearance of evil, Enos has been placed on probation. Then there’s Emma Osmond. That unfortunate girl was indicted for allowing a boy into her room to read the scriptures together. Peter Priestly is framed in the 7th picture. He got locked outside his dorm after getting home 5 minutes after the midnight curfew. Eighth is Chastity Hatch, who had more than one earring in her ear. The Ninth frame holds Parley Ezra, who had a poster of a belly-baring Britney Spears up in his dorm room. The Tenth picture is of Yours Truly. We won’t say why my picture is on the wall. But the Honor Code and I are on a first name basis. When I walk in, everyone cheers “ASHLEY!” Even now, living in Minnesota, I still have my phone tapped and their surveillance cameras following me.

In the Honor Code Office there is another hallway, celestially lighted, adorned with 10 other pictures. These celebrities are the people who turned the aforementioned sinners into the Honor Code Office. As it states in the Honor Code Statement, “Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code”. Once, I caught an ad in The Daily Universe, BYU’s campus newspaper. It was a form which was used to anonymously turn in fellow students who were not living the Honor Code. BYU is a tattletale society. We were pawns in George Orwell's totalitarian state.

I love the Honor Code. I claim full responsibility for my run-ins with the Honor Code. People who don’t like the Honor Code are people who don’t live the Honor Code. Having signed a commitment to the Honor Code, they have no one to blame but themselves for their offenses. People who go to BYU to party go away utterly broken and bitter (and by “party” I mean it in a non-FHE-Root-Beer-Float-Making Party way). BYU is highly competitive and there are thousands are other students that would gladly take their spot. The Honor Code has supreme power and there is no crossing them.

During my freshman year, I met a senior BYU student named Gavin. He had grown up in Provo and his dad was a professor at BYU in the Engineering Department. I loved his parents. He came from the perfect family. I would go over to their house every Sunday for dinner and they treated me like one of their own, which is just what I needed during my freshman year as I was trying to adjust to life alone. Gavin followed in the intellectual footsteps of his genius father. Not only was Gavin brilliant, he was good looking too. Sounds good so far, right? Well he also had bleached blond hair, drove a Harley, had a tongue-ring and always painted his nails black. He was obsessed with punk music. I’m not sure how he sailed through his BYU years without getting turned in to the Honor Code Office, but he did. And just my luck, I happened to meet the one bad boy at BYU. What attracted Gavin to me? I’m sure he saw me as a white canvas, waiting to be splashed with red paint. He was a snake in disguise slowly coiling himself around my body. I tried to run but he caught me by the lips. He was wild and I fell for him. It was refreshing to date Rocky Road in a sea of Vanilla.

We dated exclusively for 1 ½ years. I was hypnotized. However, one day I looked in the mirror at myself. Now I was the one with black nail polish, bleached blond hair and a tongue ring. Who was this stranger, this sheep following blindly? I snapped out of it and broke up with Gavin. Gavin was the scaffolding between me and my all-too-frequent visits with the Honor Code Office and I was ready to detonate that bridge. Although I was ready to end things with Gavin, I was crushed about breaking up with his parents. Oh, if only I could keep the parents but give back the boyfriend. I would have married the parents if such a thing had been even remotely ethical, but unfortunately they were a package deal.

Students that attend BYU have to live in BYU-approved housing and have to live by the Honor Code’s Residential Living Standards, which states:

“Visitors of the opposite sex are permitted in living rooms and kitchens but not in the bedrooms in off-campus living units. The use of the bathroom areas by members of the opposite sex is not appropriate unless emergency or civility dictates otherwise. And by emergency, we mean explosive diarrhea.” (I added that last part)

I lived with many roommates that were practically having orgies in their bedrooms with multiple boys; they were never once caught by the Honor Code Gestapo. However, if a boy even stepped foot in my hallway, lights and sirens would go off in the Honor Code office. The BYU President’s pager would sound off. The Y on the mountain would turn a scarlet A. A switchboard would light up and SWAT teams would be engaged. They would kick down my door and drag away the poor sap in handcuffs. The next Monday, I’d be back in the Honor Code office.

Cheers (jeers), “ASHLEY!”

At least that’s how I felt. But I still respected the Honor Code and tried to live it.

My rap sheet at the Honor Code Office was as long as Santa’s naughty list; I was on shaky ground. For the previous couple of years I had been on my best behavior. Further, I held a coveted spot in BYU’s Nursing Program and wasn’t about to risk that by having a boy in my bedroom.

Unfortunately (and fortunately), when returning to BYU after my romantic summer with Parke, I moved into an apartment with a balcony off of my bedroom. And that balcony was only 5 feet off of the ground….and Parke was 6 foot tall. Get my drift? That year, almost every night he’d put me to bed with a kiss. In the morning he’d climb up my balcony and wake me with a kiss. For the most part, our rendezvous were innocent. But, looking back, I can’t believe how absolutely careless we were. Another brush with the Honor Code would have changed my academic and professional future. I’d lose my job in the anatomy lab and my spot in the Nursing program. I know it’s sacrilegious to wonder if Heavenly Father had been turning an omniscient eye by allowing us to break the Honor Code Residential Living Standards; but truly there was some divine assistance afoot!

It’s still amazing to me that we never got caught with all of the surveillance cameras and snitches around.

“Yeah, suckas!!”

(Shoot, don’t tell the Honor Code that I said that, I’m still a little scared of them…)

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