9/18 Perspective: A collective effort

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    It’s a pleasure and an honor for me to live and work in this great community where every member has made a commitment and signed a pledged to live on his or her honor. I feel strongly that most all of the students here at BYU are striving to honor their commitment.

    The Honor Code and the students who sign a pledge to live by it make BYU unique. One of the main reasons most students chose to come to BYU is so they could live, work and study with people who share their values. They enjoy being in an environment that is conducive to learning and personal growth. What a marvelous benefit for all of us here at BYU!

    The Honor Code is not a law, it is a set of guidelines that are distilled from principles of the gospel. Living by the Honor Code is all about living in a community. The Honor Code is only as strong and effective as you and I individually and collectively make it be. When we chose to reap the benefits of living in a community, we also chose to accept the responsibility of preserving that community and those who live in it with us. We have to be willing not only to voluntarily obey the community’s standards ourselves, but to help others understand their role and encourage them to also be contributing community members.

    In reality, the Honor Code Office does not alone preserve and sustain the Honor Code and the resulting atmosphere. It is really a collective effort of concerned roommates and friends, an army of good bishops, and the willing members of the BYU community.

    The Honor Code at BYU has endured for many years; and it will continue to do so because it is an integral part of the BYU experience. It is also a fact that most students who come to BYU don’t have to alter their lifestyle. They have always lived by gospel standards; not because they are forced to, but because they have found that to do so brings great blessings.

    I have been the director of the Honor Code Office for five years. I know the overall community of students has integrity and character. Why do I know this? The students I work with show me almost every day. The Honor Code isn’t about enforcement. It is really about encouraging students as they recommit to honor their agreement and to reap the benefits from doing so.

    One of my daughters once asked me if she had to go to BYU. She wasn’t sure she agreed with all of the Dress and Grooming standards. I told her she did not have to attend BYU. I also told her that if she decided to attend, I would expect her to do her very best to honor her own commitment. I reminded her that attending BYU is not about rules and regulations, it is really about honoring our commitments.

    Karl G. Maeser indicated that if he drew a circle around himself and gave his word of honor to stay within that circle no power on earth could get him to break his promise. The question is are we individually and collectively willing to keep that great BYU tradition of honor and commitment? My opinion is that we are indeed willing and anxious to continue that great tradition that makes BYU such an exceptional institution.

    Steven M. Baker, Director, BYU Honor Code Office

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