The antiquated beard ban

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According to the BYU Honor Code, male students may grow sideburns so long as they don’t “extend below the earlobe or onto the cheek”; and men can wear mustaches so long as they are “neatly trimmed” and do “not extend beyond or below the corners of the mouth.” With the exceptions of sideburns and mustaches, facial hair is prohibited.

The ban on beards (and long hair for men) goes back to the ’70s when, according to Elder Dallin H. Oaks, the president of the university at the time, beards were linked to rebellion and revolution when beards were a symbol of hippie and drug culture. Notwithstanding, during the decade of the disco, sideburns and mustaches were in vogue and readily accepted in conservative circles. Subsequently, sideburns and mustaches were allowed at BYU.

But today sideburns and mustaches are no longer associated with conservative dress. However, well-groomed beards are now widely accepted as conservative business dress (think of Steve Jobs). Despite these modern interpretations, BYU still clings to its antiquated rules. Male students can acceptably roam the halls of BYU looking like disheveled creeps, but they cannot don well-groomed beards looking like professionals. BYU needs to update its Honor Code, allowing men to wear “neatly trimmed” beards and at least reconsider its policy on mustaches.

Blake Bockholt
Roy, Utah

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