Friday, March 4, 2011

Two Sides To The Story

So, there's been a lot of hype lately about one Brandon Davies, of BYU basketball fame. Apparently he got his girlfriend pregnant and was bumped from the BYU basketball team for the Honor Code violation.

I have a few things to say about this.

A lot of people are outraged that he was kicked off, especially because BYU is doing such an amazing job this basketball season because this dude is super talented.

But here's the thing: BYU is a private institution, owned by the LDS church, and as such, has the right to ask its students to follow certain rules while in attendance. The Honor Code is a binding contract that every student has to sign and live by, and students enter BYU knowing that if they violate this code they will be subject to discipline. Therefore, if a student breaks the contract, BYU is entirely in its rights to do what they've said they would do all along, and they have every right to do what the student agreed to when he or she signed this contract.

If a student doesn't want to live by this code, he or she is free to go to another university.

In the past there have been student athletes who, because of their talent, were allowed to continue attendence with nothing more than a slap on the wrist for their honor code violations. I am glad to see that BYU is finally holding its student "celebrities" to the same standards to which it holds all of its plain old boring students.

Now. All that being said, here's the thing:

People need to cut this guy some slack. I don't think people are stepping back and taking a look at the human side of this issue. Do you all realize that this guy is only 19 years old? A teenager? I do think that following the Honor Code is important, since it's something students agree to follow before they even enter BYU, but I don't think people realize that when the students first sign this contract they are usually 17 or 18 years old. Hell, I was only 16 when I signed it.

How many of you were fully formed at 16? 17? 18? How many of you had already made all the mistakes you were ever going to make by then? How many of you had already figured out what you believed, religiously or otherwise? How many of you were in complete control of your hormones?

That's what I thought.

If that's not enough to convince you to let up on this guy, think about this: how awful must this guy feel right now? He got his girlfriend pregnant at 19. What 19-year-old is ready for that? He may have cost the BYU basketball team's chance at going all the way this year. 30,000 BYU students (and many, many more alumni) are sorely disappointed in this. What's more, this throws BYU into the spotlight, where it's getting almost nothing but criticism for the way it's handling the whole situation. It's thrown the church into the spotlight as well, and the LDS church has already had enough of that.

There are two sides to the story, people. Yes, he made a mistake (a big one), but he's human after all. Humans aren't perfect; it's a fact of life. Anyone who thinks he or she is better than this guy is due for some humbling.

What do you all think?


magnolia said...

ooh, i missed the pregnancy angle to this story. wow, that makes it so much sadder all the way around.

from a lawyer's perspective: the people who are crying for him to sue the school are a) silly and b) woefully uninformed as to what the first amendment means. just like miss california didn't have her rights violated when people said mean things about her, BYU didn't violate this guy's rights.

from an atheist/liberal perspective: i don't know why people without connections to the LDS church go to school at BYU. i also don't know why non-catholics go to catholic schools, and so on, and so on. why, oh why, would you ever put yourself through someone else's ridiculous strictures?

i thought that going to a jesuit school for my graduate degree this year would be OK - not only is it only one year, but it's a law school, right? WRONG. we had to go through a series of cute little white lies to get my birth control covered by my school insurance. catholicism permeates everything (and my school tends to be on the diocese's watch list as it is for "ignoring" church rules).

long rant short: them's the rules, but man, what rules to pin yourself to just to play basketball...

Anna W said...

I just KNEW you'd have a nice, long reply to that! Ha!

Anyway, yeah, I understand. As to why anyone who wasn't LDS would go to BYU, I just know that they have some AMAZING programs, like top in the nation. There are professors in the chem department who are the only people on earth doing research in their specific fields, so I would understand for like a graduate degree.

Kim said...

I was actually going to ask you what you thought about this whole thing, being from Utah and an alum. Like Magnolia, I didn't know his girlfriend was pregnant as a result. But, then again, that doesn't change my opinion.

I have a very skeptical view of the Mormon church. I actually have a skeptical view of all churches, but the Mormon church's attempt to control so many facets of people's lives really gets on my nerves (much the way the Catholic church gets on my nerves). So the whole existence of an honor code irritates me. I mean, college is supposed to be a time of exploration and making mistakes so that you don't make them later in life. How are you supposed to do that with an honor code in the way?

Do I think he has a right to sue based on it? No. He signed an agreement and unless he was a minor at the time, it is a binding one. I just think it was stupid that he had to sign the agreement to get an education there. But if that's their policy, then they can do what they want.

I went to a Jesuit law school and never had any such problems. Now, I know this isn't always the case, but just because a school has a religious backer doesn't mean that everyone who attends it should have to follow their every edict. To me, that takes away from the value of the actual underlying education. If my law school were going to start having some honor code policy, I'd be one of those outraged alums that raise a fuss about it. But if I went into the adventure knowing about it, that might be a different thing.

Think of all of the other schools this guy could have played ball at that don't have such codes. He must be kicking himself right now.

Anna W said...

The thing is, the vast majority of Mormons don't see these rules as "restrictions" but as instructions from their prophets to put them on the path to happiness and eternal life. They're happy to follow these rules, so signing a contract to follow them doesn't affect them, since they were following those rules anyway.

Then there are heathens like me. Ha! My struggles with the Honor Code involved boys and the things teenagers like to do with boys, if you get my drift, so I can TOTALLY relate to this guy.

And, as I said before, anyone who doesn't WANT to follow these rules is free to go to another university, unless they're forced by some obligation to go there. I say this because I would have gone somewhere else (Ivy League, likely, my transcripts were THAT good, and I'm kicking myself for not choosing an Ivy League school instead, but hey, cest la vie), but I didn't have that option because I got a full ride scholarship to BYU and wouldn't have been able to afford going through anywhere else, as my parents said they wouldn't help me financially unless I went to a church school. Ironically, I ended up paying my way through school almost by myself...

Another reason is that I was barely 17 when I graduated high school, and, being a minor, I was completely at my parents' mercy, and they were so incredibly controlling that they would have physically restrained me from going to any other school (they were nuts, I swear). Once I was 18, though, I had already established myself within the chemistry department at BYU and loved it there (the chem department, not BYU in general), so I stuck it out.

Anna W said...

And by paying my way through school I meant room and board, just to clarify.