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Letter to BYU clarifies honor code changes, spurring protests on campus

Posted at 6:33 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 20:33:06-05

PROVO, Utah — Students on BYU campus protested Wednesday after a letter from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Church Education System was released.

The letter addresses recent changes to the language in the BYU Honor Code, clarifying the Church’s stance.

BYU Junior Joseph Smith joined a student group called “Restore Honor.”

Smith said he’s met with school administrators almost every single day and feels his voice is heard.

“I feel like we’ve gotten to a place where we’re a good rapport with administrators,” said Smith.

Since protesting the Honor Code in the spring of 2019, Smith said administrators have made changes, like getting rid of anonymous reporting, updates to the way the honor code office is run, and no longer calling enforcement officers “counselors.”

After all the ground they’ve made, Smith said the letter he received on Wednesday morning confused him.

“It seems to contradict some of the things we’ve heard,” said Smith.

The letter, sent out to BYU students and faculty stated “the moral standards of the church did not change... A foundational doctrine...” for the church is that ‘marriage between a man and woman is ordained of God.’ Same-Sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible” with the honor code.

BYU Sophomore, Lauren Andersen said the letter surprised her.

“It didn’t seem to fit with the policies in practice as we’ve been told by administration in meetings,” said Andersen. “I was a little bit surprised and a little frustrated by it.”

Students brought their signs and raised their voices at the student center in protest of the letter, but not all students see the changes as disappointing.

“I love the honor code but also love all of God’s children,” said Benjamin Smith, a sophomore at BYU. “I also think that part of us coming to this school is agreeing to the honor code and the things that apply to it.”

Benjamin said he doesn’t have any animosity towards administration or the groups protesting.

For Smith, he acknowledges an administration willing to make changes but thinks more can be done.

“For that to happen we need dialogue, we need students to be reaching out to us,” said Smith.