The national spotlight shining on BYU’s Honor Code, and more particularly the Honor Code Office, is not a first.
One of its more notable episodes dates back to 1978, when a student wrote a letter to The Daily Universe under the name A. Lavon Bryan after an episode at the Testing Center. The Honor Code restricted the kind of denim female students could wear at the time. Bryan wrote that she was denied access to the Testing Center because she was wearing denim pants.
“So, turning to an expedient alternative, I ran into the nearby library bathroom and removed my pants! I then buttoned up my long coat and walked back to the testing center where I was admitted with out question. There is something strangely perverse and incongruous about a dress code which demands that a girl dressed in nice denim pants is rejected from a campus facility, while a girl in underpants and an overcoat is acceptable. Is is that vital that we expose the lower half of our legs?”
The Daily Universe staff published Bryan’s letter and an editorial cartoon by now-Salt Lake Tribune cartoonist Pat Bagley that made a play on a popular book at the time, “Dress for Success.” Bagley’s cartoon titled “Dressed for Success” shows a woman in an overcoat but no pants who “successfully entered McKay Testing Center.” Outside media attention on the no-pants episode followed.
The Honor Code has changed over time, and the denim ban is long gone. Today’s Honor Code discussions are focused on weightier matters with yet-to-be-seen outcomes. “We’ve seen the conversations about the Honor Code Office on social media and have engaged in discussions with our students,” BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said in a statement released Friday, April 12. “These conversations have been very constructive, as students have shared with us their concern for certain processes within the Honor Code Office.”