By MARCUS BURTON
Grunge was definitely not a fashion when the BYU student chapter of the Blue Key National Honorary Fraternity wrote the first Honor Code in 1948.
As fashion styles have evolved here at BYU, so has the emphasis on the dress and grooming standards set by the Honor Code Council.
The Honor Code Council is different from the Honor Code Office. The Council is made up of students who deal with issues on dress and grooming, tobacco and coffee violations, and disrespectful conduct.
The Honor Code Office is managed by faculty and handles all other aspects of the Honor Code — alcohol and drugs, chaste living and obedience to the law.
The council has had to adjust because the styles and attitudes around campus have changed so much in the past 40 years.
Dr. Steven Thomsen, communications professor who was a freshman here in the late 1970s, said people do not dress up in public like they use to. He remembers when men would not leave the house without a tie on.
This laid-back attitude to dress casually has also affected the BYU campus in the 1990s.
“The most obvious thing to me is the relaxed attitude about dress on campus,” he said. “There were not open-toed sandals, shorts or even as much denim when I was a student here.”
Back in the 1960s, students dressed alike. Dress styles, at least at BYU, were not outlandish. There was not much of a need for an Honor Code, said former Marriott School of Management Professor and BYU graduate Dr. Brent D. Peterson.
The strong need for an Honor Code did not come until about the same era as the Beetles got popular, he said.
BYU students today look a lot more like other college students around the nation than they did 30 years ago, Thomsen said.
Each generation has seen their own changes with the dress and grooming standards at BYU.
“We couldn’t wear shorts out of our dorm rooms when I was a freshman,” said Amber Ekblad, 1992 BYU graduate. “Everybody had to wear pants everywhere they went.”
In earlier years women did not have the opportunity to even wear pants. Before the 1970s, women could not wear pants on campus.
Wanda Ostler, who was a freshman in 1971, said women could not wear jeans and could only recently wear pants on campus when she got here.
“My sisters who came here before me had to wear skirts and dresses everyday, they couldn’t even wear pants,” she said.
Dresses and skirts were not the only controversial issues in the 1970s. Grooming was a major topic of concern for many male students, Ostler said.
Sideburns could not go down past the middle of the ear and hair had to be groomed above the ears.
Ostler said that the night before registration, which was done in person, she used to help the guys put their hair in perm rods so that it would not be over their ears.
Thomsen said he was sent to the Honor Code Council four times his freshman year because his hair was over part of his ears.
“My hair wasn’t a lot longer than it is right now,” he said.
Although the letter of the law may not be as strict today as it has been in years past, the Honor Code Council has not compromised its values. The emphasis has only been changed from strict guidelines to a stronger emphasis on integrity and honesty.
According to a September 1992 BYU Today article entitled “On Your Word Of Honor”, the Honor Code took a major change in 1991 as the administrators altered their approach from the letter of the law to the spirit of the law. A student’s qualities on the inside have become the main focus when dealing with the Honor Code.
“In the past we had to start out by asking if the students’ hair were the right length,” according to the BYU Today article. “Now we sit down and discuss what it truly means to be honest. And we are finding that students are looking more inside themselves, instead of giving excuses.”
Changing fashions and styles may prompt a different emphasis on the dress standards, but the attributes of honesty, chastity and integrity will always be the fashion here at BYU.