Brandon Davies, Twitter, & Whaaaa?

Seriously: for the past two days, brandon davies has been a trending topic on Twitter. That means, in the entire worldwide Twittersphere, with violent upheavals in the Middle East, a new iPad announced, and Charlie Sheen redefining “radical,” Brandon Davies is one of the top 10 topics on Twitter.[1]

This follows the ESPN story divulging Davies’ Honor Code violation: he had sex with his girlfriend. The chatter on Twitter is deafening and polarized, with SocialMention.com reporting that he’s getting tweeted about every 7 seconds. From what I can tell, half of the tweets are “Good for BYU,” and the other half are “Whaaaaa????”

While it’s not surprising to most people that BYU and the Mormon church frown upon sex outside of marriage, and however hopelessly backward that may seem to outsiders, the Mormons are not the only religion with such a belief. Indeed, BYU isn’t even the only major school with such a rule against sex–Notre Dame has a similar one, which mandates expulsion for fooling around.

Since the initial story on ESPN, nearly every news outlet has provided coverage of Davies’ dismissal from the team–including radio programs such as the Dan Patrick Show, and The Petros & Money Show, as well as continued additional coverage on ESPN, such as this very complimentary piece from Pat Forde. The overwhelming majority of this coverage has been positive toward BYU’s decision and has applauded BYU’s willingness to stand up for its own principles.[2]

However, as noted above, the response on Twitter has been very different: lots of ridicule, confusion, and general pfffffting going on. Why do we see this divergence in response–the media outlets are praising BYU, while the Twittersphere is scorning it?

_________________________

[1] BTW, this isn’t the first time BYU sports has been in the Trending Topics. Actually, they get there quite a bit, presumably because they’re the team people love to hate. I’m betting that translates to good ratings for ESPN next year (plus they have legions of fans distributed around the country).

[2] Even 9 Moons posted something because of this!

Comments

  1. Just more proof that the left-wing media hates us and hates morals…

    Oh. Wait a minute. Nevermind…

  2. I assume the media praise is due to the overexposure of sports cover-ups.

    And the Twitter mocking is because most folks don’t understand how having sex in college when the majority are having it leads to a banning of such a serious note he’s likely to be kicked out of school.

    Luckily for him though, he’ll be picked up by another school and probably do better there.

  3. StillConfused says:

    It is good to see a school stand up for its beliefs. But it is also good to know that this young man will end up at another school which suits him better and may assist him in becoming something more than he otherwise would have been.

  4. what left wing media?

  5. Been sad to see many of my co-alums patting themselves on the back for this. BYU has an honor code. Check. There are consequences for breaking the honor code. Check. The honor code is enforced. Check. These things should all be assumed. And yet, when generally crotchety sports writers throw a bone to BYU for following the honor code, we fall over ourselves to tell ourselves how great we are. Because some columnist at ESPN says so.

    This is in every way unfortunate. Unfortunate that BD made a mistake. Unfortunate that it’s so public. I hope that Brandon can find his way, because right now his life is flat skewered. I feel very bad for him. Not bad for the consequences or for the process. Just bad that he made a mistake. I hope he’s okay. That’s really all that matters here, isn’t it?

  6. Oh, Daniel…

  7. The twitterspace is the great a spacious building of yore?

  8. makakona says:

    i’m with rd. all i can think about is how davies must feel right now. yes, he did something he shouldn’t. yes, there are consequences. but to have that played out so publicly and to know that people will remember you forever if byu’s season plummets… that’s a lot of weight to carry. i wish there was another way to handle his situation because i’m just sad for him.

  9. It’s impossible to be a student athlete and assume ANYTHING will be played out privately. Crums you accidently do your schedule wrong and coach finds out and calls you in. He was on scholarship, they were paying him because he’s tall, can bounce a ball and run at the same time…how can that not skew your thinking a bit?

    Had he continued playing well he could have been a hero…you put yourself out there to be a hero…you also run the risk of being the goat.

    I wonder if he’s feeling very lost and disoriented and frustrated and alone…it is sad.

  10. If he weren’t a basketball player, he could repent in private. Now it has to be public.

  11. yes, dearest Brad?

  12. …plus the incredible weight of knowing you let down your teammates and coach. This has been the best and hardest-fought season of their lives as well.

    WVS, I love the metaphor. Social media has made it easier than ever to publicly point and laugh.

  13. Social media has made it easier to point and scorn–but the question remains: Why, when so many high-profile folks are praising the BYU, is Twitter reacting so differently?

    On Sunday, the Academy Awards show was skewered on Twitter, from start to finish. Similarly, every media account I read about the show also commented on how awful, boring, and generally stupid it was. Any social theorists out there to explain the disparity when it comes to BYU?

  14. Scott,

    What reason does a sports authority like ESPN have in denouncing BYU’s honor code policies?

  15. Is the guy who wrote the ESPN article a member?

  16. Scott, my take is that we’ve long since left the idea that Hollywood celebrities have anything of any moral value to add to the world. The art they create? Yeah, there’s morality, and idealism there, but not so much in their private lives.
    With sports however, and particularly sportswriting, the athlete-as-role-model is still a viable trope. While you get Sir Charles B. telling everyone “I’m not a role model,” you also get volumes of sportswriters falling over themselves to convict Michael Vick of being a reprehensible human being. And volumes of sportswriters justifiably outraged over doping in cycling, even while they’re praising Armstrong for his incredible run. In other words, sportswriters can’t get away from the morality tale–it’s how we understand the agony of defeat, after all. But us common folk tend to see the hypocrisy going on behind the curtain, and want to say something about that, too.

  17. I need to go back and read the comments during BCC’s live coverage of General Conference . . . I’m pretty sure the official new coverage was a little different than some of the commentary here.

    “The media” loves to keep a good ratings story alive for as long as it can. I’ts good business – pure and simple.

    There also are lots of sports analysts and talking heads who really are disgusted by the things that athletes do without consequence. Cam Newton, anyone?

    This is perhaps the perfect storm for media coverage – a college doing what another college (and the NCAA itself) didn’t have the courage and morals to do in a very similar situation. BYU’s situation and Auburn’s are almost identical – with the only difference being the betting odds on actually winning the championship. However, one player got dismissed from his team for doing something that most people feel is FAR less egregious than the actions of the current Heisman Trophy winner. Thus, great soapbox opportunity for those who hated how the Cam Newton situation played out to use Brandon Davies as their counterpoint.

    It really is too bad, since I agree with them that Brandon’s actions weren’t anywhere near as bad as what Cam Newton’s father did – from either a moral or sports-related standpoint.

    As for Twitter, people can scream about the Cam Newton situation because they never will be in his father’s situation and can be sure they wouldn’t do anything like that – but dismissing Brandon Daives is a direct slam on them in many cases, since he only did what they do. It’s personal for them.

  18. Wes Brown says:

    OK, we all know that sports team often cover up player mistakes to keep them eligible. However, players are suspended every week for rule violations. KU’s starting guard just missed some games for team rule violations, and they are much more likely than BYU to contend for the national championship.
    The important question people are not asking is…Why?
    Why can’t Brandon have sex?
    It is because the school wants to regulate the sexuality of the adults that go there.
    Yeah, yeah- he signed up for it.
    Yeah, yeah- BYU still needs to remove itself from peoples’ pants.

  19. My take: Sportswriters themselves can be criticized for criticizing BYU. Twitter-based critics won’t. The nameless, faceless, and largely consequence-free nature of Twitter lends itself toward hostility, vitriol, and general criticism. I would guess. People love to rant (but usually won’t if there is a possibility of being called out on it).

  20. Daniel,
    If I was only talking about ESPN, you *might* have a point. However, I refer specifically to Petros & Money–who not only spend a good amount of time telling crass jokes, but have a marvelous history of mocking BYU. They were folks who originally broke the BYU-Aladdin song, for example. And yet, they praised BYU for this.

  21. Wes Brown says:

    B.Russ
    I partially agree with you. I think the the talking heads are genuine in their praise. They don’t have to be nice to BYU, since part of their daily jobs is to criticize and rant. I do think, however, that some reporters may feel unable to criticize BYU for their religious codes. If they say something bad about the merits of the honor code, people may call them out for overstepping their bounds as sports reporters.

  22. B.Russ (19),
    What you’re saying amounts to, effectively, that the sportswriters are not actually saying what they think, but only what they are supposed to say, and if we could get them off the record and anonymously, they’d scorn BYU’s decision as well. I’m not sure I’d buy that, honestly.

  23. The most alarming aspect of this thread is that Scott B. listen to Petros & Money. Ugh.

  24. Wes Brown says:

    Another angle to this story is the tattling. Though unproven, I think it’s highly probably that someone on the team felt morally obligated to tell on Brandon. Is that type of backstabbing justified? Is it OK to ruin someone’s image and career (ok, I overstated it) to wipe your hands of guilt and toss teamwork out the window?

  25. observer (fka eric s) says:

    my unscientific speculation on the disparity is that the age and social demographic of obsessive tweeters correlates with a perspective that does not understand the idea of aiming for institutional ideals or a principles. west point, byu, air force academy, southern methodist, notre dame . . . whichever institution it is that has a set any sort of fully disclosed ideals and expectations, the tweeting demographic will probably not be interested in attending or approving. also, as 19 suggests, with the nature of twitter combined with the ease of garden variety, uncreative, uninspiring criticism and differentiation of people types, is it really that shocking that he’s trending right up there with Charlie Shean? They are both symptomatic of the twitter demographic’s perception on the issue of prohibitions on sex. “are you not entertained?!!”

  26. Wes, that comment is totally speculative and exactly like the “tattling” you are criticizing.

  27. 22 – No thats not really what I’m saying. If I were saying that, I wouldn’t buy it either.

    I’m saying the nature of the medium lends itself to having the most pessimistic views (of any medium).

    In other words: I might have a moderate view of subject X. I see advantages of it, and disadvantages of it. When I am nameless and faceless and have no (or very little) accountability for my views, I will be more likely to express my negative views. I will probably get a rush from typing a 140-character (or less) rant anonymously.

    However, discussing the same subject with a co-host on a radio show, I am more likely to revert back to the moderate viewpoints I hold. (I fully realize that radio hosts also make ratings by ranting and having strong opinions, but I think they are less inclined to have strong opinions than a totally faceless entity)

    Then at the far end of the polite-ness spectrum you have family and friends. One would be even less inclined to rant in such company. IMO.

    I don’t necessarily think this is the “whole” of the reason you see disparity, but I think it is probably a large factor.

  28. Or another way of putting it, everyone probably sees this as x% honorable, and y% crazy on BYU’s part. Some might be 1% honorable and 99% crazy and others 99% honorable and 1% crazy.

    Petros and Money probably see it as about 60% honorable and 40% crazy. That same viewpoint would express itself differently in different situations.

  29. Tim J.,
    The Petros & Money show is an FDA approved supplement to my daily diet.

  30. britt k says:

    twitter seems to be a flinch response. So the flinch response says..sex=good. The media is thinking at least long enough to do spell check which may make it possible to look at something a little more in depth.

    just a theory

  31. MikeInWeHo says:

    Quick question: Is there any reliable info available about how BYU found out he broke the honor code?

  32. Rumors only. The top rumor I’ve heard is that it was a roommate that snitched.

  33. Wes Brown says:

    #26 I started off my comment saying it was speculative. I agree that this whole drama may have been due to something other than tattling. I can’t think of many other scenarios that are as likely, though. To repeat the point of my post that you missed…Is it OK to rat a teammate out? Does adding school punishment to divine punishment get someone off enough that they are willing to ruin their team’s chance at a good postseason? (And yes, I realize that Brandon was putting the team in jeopardy himself. I’m just curious as to what the 2nd party must have been thinking.)

  34. Likely Options:
    1. Bitter Teammate
    2. Religion professor who discovered Davies believes in evolution
    3. Davies’ girlfriend
    4. Wild Bill
    5. Concerned FHE Sister

  35. I think you nailed it in #18 Wes. And those are very good questions.

  36. You missed some Scott: jealous girlfriend’s roommates.

  37. Great questions in fact.

    Why can’t Brandon have sex?

    I asked that one in particular DAILY when I was a teenager.

  38. Wes, there’s nothing speculative about your comment #24. You said, ” Another angle to this story is the tattling. Though unproven, I think it’s highly probably (sic) . . .”

    There’s no mention of speculation. You state your conclusion as fact, then backtrack slightly by characterizing it as “highly probable” though lacking proof. There’s a word for that . . . gossip – and #33 just perpetuates it.

  39. For the sake of argument, lets create a university called UYB and say that a star basketball player was tattled on for having sex with his girlfriend, we’ll call him Braden Divaes.

    Is it OK to rat a teammate out? Does adding school punishment to divine punishment get someone off enough that they are willing to ruin their team’s chance at a good postseason?

  40. Response to #18. My whole attitude is that BYU (read tithepayers) subsidizes students 20-25K annually times 4 for a total of 80K-100K each. So the Church gets to set the rules for attendance.

    In addition there are thousands (dozens of of them I know personally) of Mormon kids who have parents that pay tithing that would love to go to BYU and kids who scoff at the honor code are taking their place. So each kid tossed for HC violations opens up a spot for a kid who would be happy to attend and obey the HC.

    I think the demographics of those that twitter/tweet whatever favor young unmarried adults. Hence the twitter world reaction.

  41. Fine, BRuss.

    1) Yes, given the way the honor code is written, although I wouldn’t do it.

    2) No, something else was getting him off – if it’s ok to speculate now.

    Those who act knowing the consequences do so because they either don’t care or they don’t think they will get caught and punished. I speculate Braden Divaes cared but didn’t think he’s get caught – or punished if he did get caught.

    He was wrong, but that’s not the fault of whoever reported him. It’s his fault, pure and simple – and I think he understands and accepts that, based on what I’ve read so far of this hypothetical situation.

  42. I think there are reasons to complain about the honor code due to how it’s applied. (i.e. roommate fights sometimes escalate to the rather ethically challenged making up stories to the honor code office – I’ve had friends this has happened to) There are also pretty clear honor code violators who seem to get off scott free.

    I will say I’m pretty happy BYU athletics have improved since the 90’s when they got away with almost anything.

  43. britt k says:

    If YOU were in your pants no one else could be. hypothetically speaking

  44. Ray, the whole thing is gossip. We’re all gossiping, except of course, you, because you’re just here to point out that we’re all gossiping. There’s a word for that…but I like you too much to say it.

  45. Stay out of my pants, britt!

  46. Peter LLC says:

    MCQ pulling a punch? Well, I’ll be.

  47. Peter,
    Right–best to take a screen shot of it.

  48. MCQ, I get that. Thanks for puling the punch, but I never said everyone here is gossiping. The thread has been very good about avoiding gossip, actually – which is probably why Wes’ comment bothered me so much.

    I’ll drop it now, so others don’t have to pull punches and call me a self-righteous a@@ without saying it directly. I like you enough to appreciate you keeping it implied.

  49. Scott,

    #20,

    If I was only talking about ESPN, you *might* have a point. However, I refer specifically to Petros & Money–who not only spend a good amount of time telling crass jokes, but have a marvelous history of mocking BYU. They were folks who originally broke the BYU-Aladdin song, for example. And yet, they praised BYU for this.

    Sorry, I haven’t been paying attention to all the news re: college basketball.

  50. Steve Evans says:

    Daniel, you don’t say?

  51. Daniel,

    Sorry, I haven’t been paying attention to all the news re: college basketball.

    That seems like the sort of admission that should have come before your earlier commentary, not after the fact.

  52. I understand the BYU honor code rules, but not being a coug, I am naive to the mechanics of how it is implemented. So what if a young kid comes in to see the bishop, feels remorseful for some honor code violation like premarital sex, and wants to repent. The bishop works with him or or, but does the kid automatically get the boot? Someone set me straight.

    Having worked in a leadership position with a singles ward adjacent to a large public university, I can tell you that premarital sex confessions from young people to the bishop were commonplace. The usual practice is to help encourage the member to get their life together and move on, repent. In other words, love them. Usually, discipline involved probation for a few months. Seldom did it involve anything as serious as disfellowshipment. It seems like getting the boot from BYU for an honor code violation is a form of disfellowshipment. For a student or faculty or staff member there who is truly contrite about a sin or transgression, where is the support and love for repentence? Getting booted in these types of cases seems like a harsh form of public humiliation. In my view getting kicked out of school for such violations should be reserved for the unrepentent, the most serious violations, the truly recalcitrant case. I don’t care about the whining about “get them out of there so the tithe-paying parents whose kids did not get in will have a chance.” Give me a break. I support BYU very well through my tithes, and none of my four kids went there. I don’t begrudge my tithes going there–it is a fantastic place. I just hope it is a place where Christ-like love and forgivbeness is practiced by those in authority.

  53. Wes Brown says:

    Sorry for bothering you, Ray. My speculative gossip was prompted by my frustration with BYU’s honor code. There is a part of the honor code that some college students may take to be a call to police their fellow cougars. One rule is to, “Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code”. I hereby assume that someone thought that rule outweighed the rule stating, “Respect others”.

    Mingling doctrine with basketball is kind of fun, but a little troubling, too. I’ll take my tattooed Morris twins playing for the Jayhawks any day.

  54. Ken, that’s the way it typically works at BYU as well. There are problems with the Honors Code in practice but kids aren’t being expelled for the occasional screwup.

  55. Clark Says:
    March 3, 2011 at 5:25 pm
    Ken, that’s the way it typically works at BYU as well. There are problems with the Honors Code in practice but kids aren’t being expelled for the occasional screwup

    Thanks for the clarification–that’s good to know. Sounds like in this case it must have been more than someone falling down and then wanting to make things right.

  56. Anon for this one says:

    Ken @ 52,
    I kind of think it depends on which avenue the deed is reported through and by whom: through one’s bishop as one seeking help or by a roomate, teamate, rat, etc… to the honor code office directly. The first situation would most likely result in the kind of response you describe – love, helping them get their life in order and move on. On the other hand, get the honor code office involved BEFORE one’s bishop hears about it? I could see the hair police (as I affectionately referred to them while at BYU) coming down hard on that person. Sadly, their job is not to help the person repent or “get their life together” but to enforce the honor code and make way for those who are willing to do so. Of course I’m no honor code office insider so I could be off on that.

  57. living in zion says:

    #52 – What surprises me the most about this story so far is exactly what you pointed out. What happened to the repentance process? I understand the problem when fooling around ends up in pregnancy – that ups the consequences.
    When I think about the interviews I had with my bishop while attending the singles ward, I shutter to think about the public outings I would have had as a BYU student. (Get your mind out the gutter – this is not a confession.)
    What happened to reality we are all human and need Christ’s grace?
    Or is the Celestial kingdom at BYU harder to get into than the CK in the rest of the world?

  58. Michael says:

    A college basketball player got some action. Developing news at 11….

    A friend of mine (no, seriously) was a former BYU student. She’d participated in some pre-marital hanky-panky with her boyfriend (later her husband), and went to her Bishop to confess/repent. Six months later, when it was time for her to renew her ecclesiastical endorsement, the Bishop refused. Without the EE, she couldn’t re-enroll, and the Bishop seemed to think that the best thing for her would be to move “home” and attend a “lesser” school. As far as I know, she hasn’t been back to Church since. Four kids now, and no love for anything LDS.

    I worked in Provo for a while and needed quick temporary housing, so I moved into some single student quarters. My girlfriend was somewhat stranded for the night, so we were going to camp out in the living room (out in the open, so to say). The roommates put up an unholy objection, claiming that they could each be kicked out of the apartment AND expelled from BYU for allowing an Opposite Sex in the apartment after hours. Note that these were the same caring folks who tried to turn me in to the Honor Code Office for having Diet Mountain Dew in my possession. I was not a student at the time – just a recent college grad with a full-time professional job waiting until the end of the semester so I could find something more private.

  59. britt k says:

    He’s an athlete. The know what he eats before he eats it. They have his class schedule and his books bought before he even knows his schedule. With the success this team has had, the slightest hint a player might not play gets press. Normally BYU says as little as possible, and they really have in this case as well. A newspaper went snooping. There is a source somewhere there shoulodn’t be.

  60. Michael, young naive college kids overreact. News at 11. (grin)

  61. Eric Russell says:

    BD trending on prayer rolls right now too.

  62. Eric Russell FTW

  63. Janessa says:

    These are honest questions:

    1. Is masturbation against the BYU honor code (chaste and virtuous life)?
    2. Is porn use against the BYU honor code (chaste and virtuous life)?
    3. Does anyone really uphold the honor code 100% faithfully?

  64. Interesting posts! Let me say something so as to clarify my experience and biases. I am a proud BYU grad. I’ve been a bishop and served in stake presidency. I consider myself to conservative. I’m wrestling with this situation regarding this young man. I worry that perhaps this young man has had a scarlet letter branded into his character by the national press and talk shows. The university and Church will do their part to assist and heal. I do wonder about placing a 19 sophomore into a public position that you or I could not be exposed to without committing a horrific crime. Were there any other paths that would have reduced the young man’s exposure to world. Would any grandson or granddaughter of a BYU executive or one of the Board of Trustees been handled any differently? How would their wives and other family members react? The offender was not a bishop, stake president, etc. I’ve seen the Church go to great lengths to heal and “save the soul” of the offender. Perhaps I’m very wrong, but I’m wondering.

  65. Sorry for the typos. I was a little nervous, having never posted on a blog before.

  66. Scott and Steve,

    #50, 51,

    I realize the two of you tend to dislike me and my comments, but I can’t see where I made commentary. I asked Scott why he thought a sports authority like ESPN would be critical of BYU’s honor code policy. My only other comments here were in regards to the “liberal media” line.

  67. Janessa,

    1. Is masturbation against the BYU honor code (chaste and virtuous life)?
    2. Is porn use against the BYU honor code (chaste and virtuous life)?
    3. Does anyone really uphold the honor code 100% faithfully?

    Yes. Yes. No.

  68. Wes Brown says:

    Some religiously-funded universities may be more willing to forgive. “Brandon Davies: Come Play for Saint Louis University, Sex Your Girlfriend All You Want”
    http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/dailyrft/2011/03/brandon_davies_byu_sex_st_louis.php

    (No, this is not an official invitation from the university. It’s a humorous invitation from a columnist.)

  69. jeff, I think your questions are good ones. We may never know what really happened here, but the player’s statements have been very repentant: he apologized to his team etc. Based on what we know, it sure seems like this could have been handled differently, to the benefit of everyone involved.

    Can you imagine being the girlfriend? She’s Yoko Ono, the BYU version.

  70. 58 – that’s awful about your friend. I could understand if it was within a month, but six? Please. If she’s allowed to take the sacrament again she should be allowed to re-enroll.

    I suspect a large part of the difference between the media and twitter is simply age and perspective. Not like, news people don’t know how to use this newfangled technology! But more like, professionals in news are older and mature enough to know that integrity is something laudable instead of something to be derided.

  71. Daniel,
    What liberal media?

  72. Jeff, welcome, and I hope you come back again often, because (like MCQ said), you ask some great questions.

  73. Jeff, based on past experience, I would say that there have been careful efforts to “keep things quiet” in the sort of cases you mention. I’m not sure that applies directly to the present case, but if voting mattered, there would a considerable number of people who would fall out on the side of “keep it private.”

  74. O.K. I am mildly curious. Who is Brandon Davies and why should I care?

  75. Anon – Here you go buddy.

    You. Are. Welcome.

  76. MikeInWeHo says:

    “She’s Yoko Ono, the BYU version.”

    Wow! Comment of the month?
    And FWIW: Things didn’t turn out so badly for the original Yoko.

  77. An interesting discussion as I found myself explaining the Honor Code and why Brandon Davies might have been suspended from the team to a group of non-member fellow employees who are all college basketball fanatics. All were incredulous that BYU would pull the trigger on a suspending a star athlete merely days away from the big dance and especially if it was a private transgression that had no criminal connection to it or could have embarrassed the school. I think that probably answers part of your question for why Twitter, which represents individuals, would trend to “Whaaa?” Most sports fans who are crazy about their college ball would be completely baffled by this decision. As were some of my colleagues.

    I didn’t know at the time of the discussion what Davies’ infraction was but all of them asked whether he would stay at the school and whether he could join the team again next Fall. My response was it depended on his infraction, how it was discovered, and how repentant he was in his attitude toward his actions.

    I have a little more insight into how the Honor Code is treated by the school than the average person due to my experience my Senior year at BYU as one of three student representatives on the BYU Honor Code Committee (not to be confused with the Honor Code Council or the Student Honor Association as it’s now known which was a 15 student body responsible for reviewing cases of infractions).

    The Honor Code Committee (it might have had a slightly different name – it’s been almost 20 years) at the time in 1994 had oversight of the code itself and how it was being implemented at the Y. Members included Janet Lee (wife of then Pres. Rex D. Lee), several Deans including Robert Millet if my recollection is correct, a couple of Stake Presidents and Bishops of BYU Stakes/Wards, Alton Wade who was VP of Student Life and former President of BYU Hawaii, and then 3 students. The position wasn’t something I signed up for or even requested but instead I was drafted to it by one of the administrators who oversaw the Student Advisory Council where I was working as a representative.

    Hilarious side story, I was notified at the last minute that I needed to show up to the first meeting and had completely forgotten about it. So I walked into the meeting in a rugby shirt and jeans with a Boston Red Sox cap on backwards – it was a test day and I had been up most of the night before preparing and had not hit the shower before coming to campus. No one had told me who would be at that meeting so I was not at all prepared and received some fairly humorous reactions to the ball cap on backwards. I’m certain most of them wondered why exactly I was the chosen student rep when the other two were a pair of young women who were visions of daughters of zion in attire, appearance and attitude. It was an auspicious beginning but it also started me down the path toward a reputation for being an outspoken voice of the students in that committee.

    On to the insight related to this unfortunate situation for Brandon Davies though. In one of our meetings, a specific issue concerning student dress came up. I’m pretty sure it was about whether shorts should be allowed on campus – which they were not at the time – and if you think that’s crazy consider that today, BYU Idaho has much stricter dress standards for classroom and campus attire than BYU does. http://www.byui.edu/studenthonor/Campus%20Classroom%20Dress.htm

    Anyway, Brother Wade offered commentary on the topic by relating a story which probably helps demonstrate why the Honor Code standards are there and who is requesting them. A year or so earlier Brother Wade was in Salt Lake City attending a review of the Church universities with the Presidents of each university and members of the Quorum of the 12 and Seventy who had oversight for the schools. President Hinckley who was at the time a counselor in the First Presidency was presiding. While they were supposed to be discussing all aspects of the schools to address the most pressing issues they wound up spending more than an hour going over student compliance with the honor code at BYU. The discussion evolved around consistent pressure to relax the standards, that they were too draconian.

    Finally, Pres. Hinckley quietly interjected and said, (I’m paraphrasing here but the moment is still fairly vivid in my mind), “Brethren, when will we take a stand to the continual erosion of standards of behavior in the world?” He held up his hands and motioned, “The world shifts and we have shifted with them in relaxing standards.” He demonstrated this by holding both hands as if he were measuring a fish in a fish story and then shifted his hands along the continuum. He then continued, “We must set a standard and tell the world, this is where we stand and we will not be moved.”

    What followed in discussion was further recognition that BYU is held up as a standard to the world and an outward representation of the best behavior and appearance of those who are members of the Church. Students are considered ambassadors of the school but more importantly of the Church. So it does not surprise me in the least that Davies was suspended from the team. As an athlete he would be an even more visual representation and ambassador of BYU and the Church.

    All I can say is when some say BYU should not be involved in students’ sex lives what you’re really saying is that the Church, in fact, the Quorum of the 12, should not be involved in the sex lives of the youth of the Church. Given the messages we’ve heard over the pulpit at the last few General Conferences I would say there is greater not less attention to that issue than there was back when I was at BYU.

    Further, I’m fairly certain, given the discussions I participated in, that were Davies the son of an apostle, he would not have been treated any differently. At least that is my hope.

    Is it fair that young Davies is subjected to the media spotlight and should that have tempered how the administration acted? Consider that BYU released a very short statement that “Due to a violation of the BYU Honor Code, Brandon Davies will not represent the university on the men’s basketball team throughout the remainder of the 2010-11 season” and didn’t say more other than explaining that it was not due to a criminal act on Davies’ part.

    What else could they have done? Allow him to keep playing when he is in flagrant violation of the standards now that the news is reporting he had premarital sex? Note that the university has not confirmed this story. For all we know, Davies went to his Bishop and explained his actions. I’d like to believe it was a grief stricken Davies who sought out repentance but also recognized that his actions would have other consequences who went to his Bishop on Sunday to confess his actions. And together he and his Bishop discussed what his next actions should be. At some point this was communicated to the Honor Code Office. To the school this is a private matter between Davies and his Bishop but his actions also have consequences concerning his standing as a student and athlete at BYU, especially given his high visibility at the school. It’s unfortunate but I think coach Holmoe stated it best in his discussion with the press on Thursday:

    “There are times when I deal with honor code violations that you are not interested in. They are handled the same way.” And: “We won’t relax the honor code for a situation that has to do with a basketball player.” Even a high profile one. For more see here: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/blogsbyusports/51363991-65/code-honor-byu-media.html.csp

  78. The more I read about all of this, especially now that the media has named the girlfriend, I think that BYU almost had a special responsibility to treat this case a little bit differently than if it had been a more anonymous student. In the name of standing up for truth and righteousness and making sure that the code was upheld the same for everyone, BYU officials come across as Pharisees or the old Soviet oligarchy. How could they have not understood that this would turn into a media firestorm that could cause more damage than the original sin? It would have been better to deal with this quietly, suspend the kid for a couple of games for “violation of a team rule”, work with him and show him love. Happens all the time in college sports and people general don’t get worked up about the details. Now, two young people have what should be a very private situation dragged through the national media in a public humiliation and flogging of sorts, BYU comes across as an unforgiving and overly rigid place ruled by Pharisees, and now there are allegations of LDS racism are flying in the blogosphere. It couldn’t have been handled more poorly.

  79. So, Ken, we should act based on how others will perceive our actions?

    Oh, and it absolutely could have been handled more poorly. I’m not sure it could have been handled better, given the circumstances.

  80. It’s all just a manufactured controversy engineered by BYU to promote their self-righteous image and lay the groundwork for a Romney presidential candidacy at the same time.

  81. Really good post. I am amazed (and thrilled) at the publicity the Church is getting because of this. I just read an article today in the Deseret News about a press conference – not about Davies – but about the BYU Honor Code and why we have it. Good post.

    [Admin: promotional URL deleted]

  82. #79–I concede you are right in dissecting my hyperbolic statement–it could have been handled more poorly. I am always amazed by how poorly things can get handled. But I maintain that it would have been much better for the powers-that-be to handle this situation more quietly and delicately: A two game suspension for “violating team rules” and then work out the details privately, “between me and thee” so to speak. There is a difference between not basing our actions on how others will perceive us and standing up for a rigid application of a manufactured principle for the sake of perceived righteousness. I don’t see the law of chastity as a manufactured principle, but the more I learn about it, much of the BYU honor code and how it is applied seems to be. And #81, I don’t want to rain on your thrill, but I don’t see how anyone could be thrilled about the publicity the church is getting out of this, unless one enjoys the perception of being persecuted for righteousness sake.

  83. britt k says:

    All the school did was put out a statement saying he wasn’t
    playing the rest of the season.

    That’s all.

    The publicity surrounding this is caused by interest in bsaketball and this team and the timing. If he had torn his ACL it would have been huge news and all over. Had there been a breath that he wasn’t practicing cause his tummmy hurt there would have been speculation about his health going into the conference tournament.

    BYU isn’t calling the media so they can look righteous. They are answering questions about the honor code, but they are saying ver y little about this case.

  84. BYU knew very well how this was going to play out. How could they not know? Given that, yes, Ray, they should have acted differently. You can’t escape responsibility for the known consequences of your actions just because you don’t cause them directly. The publicity about this young man’s actions and those of his girlfriend is harmful to them and could have been avoided simply by BYU exercising a little caution. But hey, at least they can say they treat everyone the same!!! Yippeee!!!

  85. “All I can say is when some say BYU should not be involved in students’ sex lives what you’re really saying is that the Church, in fact, the Quorum of the 12, should not be involved in the sex lives of the youth of the Church.”

    BYU is not the Church. BYU Athletes are not representatives of the Church. Missionaries are. Some BYU athletes are not even members of the Church. If we keep conflating BYU and the Church, we are going to see fewer and fewer people attend BYU (for any reason) who are not members of the Church and fewer outsiders will regard BYU as a world-class university.

  86. MCQ,
    In addition to the reasons you state in 85, another reason conflating BYU and the Church itself is a bad idea is that it’s just straight up obnoxious to LDS people who didn’t attend BYU.

  87. MCQ, there is no conflating going on here. BYU is a Church led institution. The two are so inextricably entwined that the mission of the university is defined as first helping individuals toward perfection and eternal life. The Board of Trustees is chaired by the First Presidency and includes three other Apostles, a President of the Seventy and the General Presidents of the R’S and the YW. There is no one else. So you tell me, where do you think the rules that govern the University come from?

    You may consider it conflating but it’s quite clear that the prophet doesn’t. The standards of behavior are more restrictive for students than you must adhere to in order to get a temple recommend. And that is specifically because the Trustees see the university as a very visible ambassador of the Church. I’m merely conveying what I heard from my experiences in working closely with those who were following direction from the Trustees.

  88. 1. Regarding the OP’s question:
    I think this incident showcases an effect inherent to Twitter (and I say this as a regular tweeter myself). As a medium, Twitter almost demands the expression of thoughts that are off-the-cuff, immediate and visceral. Consequently, some will see its record as more “authentic,” but I suspect that it may also mean less true. By the very nature of the media, a commentator faced with producing a 500-word article or 2-minute speech will almost certainly put more thought and soul-searching into deciding what they feel about an issue than when typing a <140-character tweet.

    2. On how the story has been treated:
    To a certain extent, all the coverage (both pro- and anti-BYU) is a little sad to me because it seems so shallow. I have yet to read or hear any commentary that seems to realize the solemn fact that if Davies did conceive a child, then that has got to be at least as momentous to him as getting suspended from the team. His basketball career may well last more than four years, but he will never cease being a father. Thankfully, I do see indications that whatever the vapidness of the media circus, the people who surround him and care about him do realize that.

  89. Just for the record–I don’t think that rule about sex at Notre Dame to really be enforced. In my time here, I’ve never heard anything like that happening. It’s probably more bark than bite.

  90. Alain: Your appeal to the prophet as the final arbiter of this question is inapposite. The general authoritie of the Church sit on the boards of several corporations that are owned by the Church. None of them is the same as the Church. None of the employees of those Corporations is a representative of the Chuch. BYU is in that same category. Your “insider knowledge” doesn’t change that unassailable fact.

    Scott B, you have never been more right on.

  91. Julie, the girlfriend’s family members are apparently saying that she is not pregnant. As far as I know, no child is at issue here.

  92. Alain: Deseret Industries is a church led institution too. do you consider it to be the same as the Church? Are its employees ambassadors of the Church? You might want to spend some time there before you answer. Come to think of it, anyone who spends significant time at BYU would have a problem with your logic as well.

  93. DLewis: I have no doubt whatsoever that you are correct about Notre Dame. Rules about premarital sex are wonderful and good, but trying to enforce them through academic and athletic sanctions is is inevitably going to lead to bizarre results. Notre Dame has been around long enough to know that.

  94. MCQ,
    Yes, who know what rumors are true…. There are plenty floating about yes she is/no she isn’t/which girl was it anyway, etc., etc.

    Actually though, that is what depresses me. We are all so consumed with the voyeuristic details, and the sports implications, and the importance (or ridiculousness, as your preference may be) of enforcing strict standards, etc., etc.

    I know it has always been so, but it still saddens me that we as a society are so blind to the solemnity of potential consequences. Because in truth, the *real* issue in any sexual encounter is the potential creation of a life. We can pretend that any number of other things are more important, but on reflection, they all seem to pale. Whether or not a child was conceived in this case, one might have been. And if so, Davies would not be the person most affected by his choice. Not even 2nd place.

    I guess I just wish that our collective reaction to stories like this reflected even the most basic awareness of what is really at stake. (And note: This does not mean that I favor public condemnation. Quite the contrary.)

  95. Julie, I’m with you for the most part on that, but we also shouldn’t act like every sexual encounter is likely to result in a child these days. There are spiritual and emotional consequences to premarital sex that are certain to result every time, regardless of whether birth control was used. No use obsessing about potential consequences when we have plenty of actual ones.

  96. MCQ,
    Well, I can always agree with pragmatism. :) Indeed, as I wrote, I knew the perspective I was voicing would probably come across as rather lofty. But the reason I felt to write it at all was that in all the chatter, I wasn’t hearing it. And fundamentally, I think it’s hard to understand BYU’s position without this perspective.

    Even among those who support the Honor Code, I’ve heard very little acknowledgement of why certain behavioral standards might matter in the first place. (Or maybe among the LDS, these reasons are just assumed? If so, we could still do a better job of explaining them to others.)

    Now, lest I come across as insufferably high-minded, I must admit to being as guilty as anyone of voyeurism here. I’ve checked out photos of both of Davies’ purported love interests. So my disappointment is aimed as much at myself as anyone.

  97. #84 “BYU knew very well how this was going to play out. How could they not know?”

    Try to think about this more honestly.

  98. BYU athletes are told they represent the church in their actions. Whenever they travel, wherever they are…they are frequently told that. Mormon or not.

    I read an article the other day about how the team and coach feel adn it was much different. They know him and are more concerned with actual consequences. Him playing or not was not an important part of the conversation.

  99. gillsyk: maybe you could elaborate on that. I have no idea what you mean. If you’re saying I’m being dishonest, about something then come clean and tell me what that is.

  100. britt, I’ve read those same articles and they are a credit to the coach and players. None of them are blaming their teammate or complaining. That doesn’t change the fact that the consequences to the team are devastating, permanent, and eminently avoidable.

  101. maybe there are more important things than a basketball team.

  102. No question about that. Doesn’t mean the consequences the team is suffering are trivial or unimportant. Especially when the whole thing could have been avoided by exercising a little common sense.

  103. I smell a rat! Why else would anyone let this cat out of the bag at this precise moment? Someone’s roommate found out about it and couldn’t constrain their self-righteousness for the month it would have taken for BYU to do whatever it might have done in the tournament.

    Seriously, what would have been better for the school: big wins on a national stage, or the current fiasco?

  104. @ “anon for this” You have been permanently banned. It’s been a long time since I got to enjoy performing a good banning, so, thanks.

  105. What a classy guy Brandon Davies is to come to the game today. That must have been SO difficult to sit fom the side lines and encourage his friends. Good for the cougars to play so well.

  106. This conversation reminds me of a certain Nibley quote about the honor code.

  107. Anon for this one says:

    Cynthia @ 104 –

    Was it the hair police jab? I just re-read my comment and can’t figure out why permanent bannination is my fate. [not you--different anon]

  108. Is there any word about him facing any church discipline?

  109. MCQ @92, let’s step back and recall the context of my comments as I think I failed to clarify I wasn’t saying BYU = the Church but instead BYU standards = Church standards for youth.

    My original comment:

    “when some say BYU should not be involved in students’ sex lives what you’re really saying is that the Church, in fact, the Quorum of the 12, should not be involved in the sex lives of the youth of the Church”

    was in reference to Wes Brown @18 questioning why Davies can’t have sex and stating that BYU needs to get out of peoples’ pants. And I stand by my assertion that yes, in this context my logic stands quite grounded and is justified in referring to the prophet and Board of Trustees as final arbiters in that question. By delegation they set the standard known as the Honor Code.

    The question that might be asked is why would the Church care about students’ behavior and want to attempt to govern it outside of the covenants they already make in the waters of baptism and in their temple covenants (for those who are endowed)? Why is this not kept exclusively to the Bishop / Student relationship but instead an Honor Code office is installed? I don’t have a solid answer there other than guessing that the Bishops are busy enough as it is and there is a desire that someone at the university be responsible for ensuring a consistent approach is maintained for upholding the honor code. (Your mileage may vary as to whether or not you believe consistency is maintained and whether there are poisonous fruits that are generated from having an honor code enforcement).

    Which then pushes the question as to why the honor code needs to be there. And I would guess again, as you so aptly stated that since the Church and BYU are not one and the same, the University wants to be able to properly govern student eligibility. And that eligibility is predicated on living according to a high set of standards because:

    A. The university is a highly visible totem of the Church and the Brethren want to avoid the typical college scene by encouraging, even forcing students to live up to that standard.

    B. Because those who are privileged to attend BYU are subsidized with tithing funds and therefore should live a life that is worthy of that benefit.

    C. The Church and University believe that an education where students are living lives that encourage the Spirit to participate in the classroom rather than chase it away is a desirable outcome.

  110. Cameron #108, no and you shouldn’t expect there would be. Matters of repentance always have been and always will be a private discussion between ecclesiastical leaders and the member. I’m appalled that someone would even ask that question.

  111. Alain, you seem to be easily appalled.

    Your #109, however, is a welcome clarification. I repect the right of BYU to have an honor code and I’m not arguing that it should not have one. My question is related to this paragrpah from your comment:

    “The question that might be asked is why would the Church care about students’ behavior and want to attempt to govern it outside of the covenants they already make in the waters of baptism and in their temple covenants (for those who are endowed)? Why is this not kept exclusively to the Bishop / Student relationship but instead an Honor Code office is installed? I don’t have a solid answer there other than guessing that the Bishops are busy enough as it is…”

    I don’t think “bishops are busy enough” is a sufficient answer to that question. I think these kinds of violations are best left in the hands of bishops, not committees of administrators and students. If the rule violated is an academic rule, then sure, take it to an academic committee, but leave sexual behavior to the religious leaders.

  112. Cameron says:

    Alain- I just was asking because I hope to God above there isn’t a double standard going on just because he is on the BYU team-Like how come he is allowed to have sex and get away with it but others are not? But I can’t say either way because I don’t know, hence my question.

  113. Cameron, he is clearly NOT getting away with it.

  114. Cameron says:

    I know he is off the team for the season but any Church disciplinary stuff or ? Just curious!

  115. We don’t know and probably never will. It can be assumed, however, that he is receiving appropriate counseling and discipline through his bishop/stake president.

  116. MCQ, ultimately we come back to the question of what it means to be a Church founded and led institution of higher learning. How does one govern eligibility to attend the university when standards of moral conduct are in place and considered an inherent contributor to the cultural fabric?

    I will admit that I am not entirely comfortable with the solution currently in place as embodied in the Honor Code office. There is no question that the Bishop’s play a role in this process through the annual Ecclesiastical Endorsement and it appears we would both agree that this is a comfortable place for all aspects of individual morality to be explored with the student, much as it is in our personal lives with the biannual temple recommend interviews.

    However, I’m troubled by the statement that academic issues should be handled by an academic committee while sexual behavior remain with spiritual leaders. What is the difference? Are they not all question of moral integrity? And is there a virtue in maintaining a distinct line between a Bishop who counsels and guides a student spiritually while a official university office who is supposed to rely upon the Spirit for direction takes on administering the Honor Code and determining eligibility? Again, I wouldn’t entirely disagree with you that setting up an adversarial office can lead to an inappropriate emphasis on the negative.

    I don’t think you’re saying that chastity should not be a question in determining student eligibility, right? But instead it is a question of who has responsibility for reviewing the moral standing of the individual and guiding a young student through their struggles and temptations toward a path of greater strength and testimony. It’s a very difficult situation for a student to be in, where they are struggling with chastity issues for instance and fear that by approaching their judge in Israel for guidance and assistance in applying the healing power of the atonement in their lives that they also face the judgment of potentially being kicked out of school. Those are extraordinary consequences and barriers in the mind of the unenlightened who ponder the temporal consequences as barriers to resolving what is a serious straying that has distanced them spiritually from their God.

    I’ll confess I believe the Brethren don’t see the distinction but instead regard the Honor Code office and the Bishop as having a complementary relationship in working to both guide and assist students in living up to the standards they have covenanted to live while also protecting the university and upholding the moral image of the school.

    Whether or not the outcome really matches their intentions I believe that is the rationale behind why the school is involved in the sex lives of students.

  117. And by the way, as I understand it, as of 2004 students no longer participate in the assessment of violations and working through the cases of those who come to the attention of the office. Don’t know that it changes anything in your mind but thought it was material to the discussion since you referenced both students and administrators as a committee

  118. “However, I’m troubled by the statement that academic issues should be handled by an academic committee while sexual behavior remain with spiritual leaders. What is the difference? Are they not all question of moral integrity?”

    Some are straight up violations of academic standards and can be dealt with by an academic standards committee, like at any other college. A bishop could be involved in counseling with a student on dealing with the consequences, of course.

    “And is there a virtue in maintaining a distinct line between a Bishop who counsels and guides a student spiritually while a official university office who is supposed to rely upon the Spirit for direction takes on administering the Honor Code and determining eligibility?”

    At BYU, there is never going to be a strict line. At the very least, however we could keep sexual matters with bishops and only refer sexual issues to the honor code office when the student is essentially unrepentant.

    “I don’t think you’re saying that chastity should not be a question in determining student eligibility, right?”

    Chastity by itself should be left to the bishops, in my opinion. It only should become an academic standing issue when a student is unwilling to repent and live the standards of the Church.

    “It’s a very difficult situation for a student to be in, where they are struggling with chastity issues for instance and fear that by approaching their judge in Israel for guidance and assistance in applying the healing power of the atonement in their lives that they also face the judgment of potentially being kicked out of school. Those are extraordinary consequences and barriers in the mind of the unenlightened who ponder the temporal consequences as barriers to resolving what is a serious straying that has distanced them spiritually from their God.”

    If by “unenlightened” you mean pretty much anyone who finds themselves in that situation, then yeah, you hit the nail on the head.

  119. I’ve assumed that all these issues are considered by the university because it affects the enivornment they are trying to encourage. BYU is obviously about more than acadmeics. One of the purposes is to provide a moral environment for youth to gather. Youth inspiring each other to do the right thing. The honor code encourages that environment. Teh committee doesn’t take over counseling or judging that a bishop would do…it would focus on the environment of the university. If someone is repentant and willing to try (isn’t that most of us?) they would be welcome to stay.

  120. Anyone who wants to show their support for davies check out these t-shirts. a must have!

    obnoxiously placed URL BCC is not ur personal adspace k thanx bai!

  121. “If someone is repentant and willing to try (isn’t that most of us?) they would be welcome to stay.”

    Really? Says who? That does not appear to always be the case.

  122. Ohhhh . . . . but I wanted a tacky tasteless t-shirt that simultaneously stated that I supported Davies, while undermining that statement by further thrusting him into the public consciousness for his unbecoming actions.

  123. @lessonNumberOne (#119), the reality is if a student is disfellowshipped due to chastity issues (or any other issue) their eligibility as a student will be revoked. So if a young man and young woman came to their Bishop, repentant and yet she was pregnant, depending on how the disciplinary council goes, if they wind up disfellowshipped they would both be removed from university until they returned to full fellowship. And then they would have to reapply to be admitted.

    As the Honor Code states:

    Excommunication, disfellowshipment, or disaffiliation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints automatically results in the loss of good Honor Code standing.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,438 other followers