Students petition BYU over beard ban

Students from BYU, JC Hamilton (left) and Chris Kinney (right), show up in front of the Provo Library in protest of BYU's beard ban. (Maddi Dayton)
Students from BYU, JC Hamilton (left) and Chris Kinney (right), show up in front of the Provo Library in protest of BYU’s beard ban. (Maddi Dayton)

A group of students protested BYU’s policy on beards Sept. 26, gathering to sign a petition and deliver it to the university’s administration building.

The Honor Code separates BYU from many other universities. When students decide to attend BYU, they agree to abide by the university’s written code of conduct. This includes the Honor Code rules regarding dress and grooming standards, which state, “Men are expected to be clean-shaven; beards are not acceptable.” Beard exceptions are granted in the case of a serious skin condition.

Friday’s protest, Bike for Beards, challenged this section of the Honor Code. Dozens of students met at the Provo City Library armed with bikes, fake beards and an enthusiasm for their cause. Many students don’t understand BYU’s policy on facial hair, considering that Brigham Young himself once sported a beard.

“I think the beard ban is outdated,” said participant Steven Walker, a senior from San Diego. “It’s a little obnoxious to have to shave just to play an intramural volleyball game or to buy food at the Cougareat.”

The Bike for Beards participants biked, skateboarded, rollerbladed or jogged along University Avenue with their signed petition, looking like they were headed to battle. Leading the charge was Shane Pittson, a junior who organized the rally.

The bike gang arrived at the Abraham Smoot Administration Building, cheering and blasting music. The door was locked, but Pittson planned to deliver the petition Sept. 29.

Pittson is happy to abide by the Honor Code but believes certain rules should not be set in stone.

“It should be a living, breathing document similar to the Constitution,” Pittson said. “The Honor Code was created by the students, and yet, I feel like the student body as a whole feels disconnected from it.”

The majority of participants at Bike for Beards were male, but several girls came to offer some feminine support. Junior Sarah Meredith found it odd that BYU bans beards but permits mustaches.

“Beards are a little less creepy,” Meredith said. Pointing to her husband, she added, “I like him better with a beard.”

Pittson took a lighthearted approach to the issue. He created a website for the event, where he posted a mournful letter to BYU from “Beards.”

“Contrary to proper Provo etiquette you left me without even driving me to Squaw Peak for a DTR,” the letter reads. “You put up some form of restraining order you called the Honor Code and left me with visitation rights only if accompanied by those riddled with dermatological problems.”

Bike for Beards garnered attention from many local news stations. Participants are hopeful that BYU leaders and students are listening.

“I hope that BYU officials will be open-minded about the issue,” said participant John Rovig. “Having a beard doesn’t make me any different than people who shave every day.”

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