Readers’ Forum: 10/1/19

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Beard policy

BYU is famous for its Honor Code. It’s one of the main reasons I chose to attend this school as it helps maintain an atmosphere of professionalism, learning and spirituality. However, there is one rule that I, and many others, feel is outdated: the beard policy. The dress and grooming statement states that men are “expected to be clean shaven; beards are not acceptable.” This should be changed.

The beard policy was introduced in the 1970s. Then-president of BYU, Dallin H. Oaks, said, “Our rules against beards and long hair are contemporary and pragmatic … The beard and long hair are associated with protest, revolution, and rebellion. … In addition, unkemptness — which is often (though not always) associated with beards and long hair — is a mark of indifference toward the best in life.”

At that time, beards carried a certain stigma. Today, culture has changed. Well-groomed beards can be professional and attractive.

Facial hair isn’t just a fashion statement. For many men, it improves their self-esteem. One student told me, “Without a beard, I have a very young-looking face, and somehow, that look of being less experienced made me feel less experienced, which led to me being more timid and self conscious. … After growing a beard, … I found myself feeling more confident.”

The other argument against beards is that some may appear unkempt. This is a good point; however, facial hair is the only form of unkemptness that’s enforced on campus. Beards are just like any other style — they can look good or bad. BYU doesn’t enforce things like sweats or showering, so why are beards singled out?

Lifting the restriction on beards would be good for BYU as an institution. The policy is ridiculed by students and non-students alike. It’s widely criticized as arbitrary, outdated and even absurd. Changing this rule would only serve to improve BYU’s image while allowing students to look and feel their best.

—Brady Bowerbank
Pleasant Grove, Utah

Judgement

BYU is a melting pot of cultures, personalities and opinions, all united by one eternal principle: students’ love for Jesus Christ and the gospel. One may argue that this campus is a representation of the atmosphere of the world-wide church because children of members from all over the world are represented on one campus. So why is it that not just a university, but a church so filled with the love of Christ is also filled with so much judgement of others’ decisions? This gospel that unites us is a manifestation of Christ’s love, a gospel of feeling loved and a gospel of giving love. We know this, so why don’t we always show it?

I do not believe judgment is always bad. We all know of the scriptures and conference talks that speak of “righteous judgment,” and obviously forming one’s own opinions is unavoidable. But hand in hand with this power to judge for one’s self is the plea to “love one another; as (Jesus Christ has) loved you.” Righteous judgement, when extended too far, becomes self-righteous judgement.

Whether it be choosing to follow the Word of Wisdom or not, or an individual’s choice to not have kids, the pinnacle of my argument is this: in whatever plans someone may have at each moment in life, believe in them, help them and uplift them. We’re all here to find our way on this winding path of life — it’s difficult enough for someone to find the correct path without others adding to the confusion.

—Audrey Saunders
Ladera Ranch, California

The sound of unity

Music crosses barriers and can bring people together. As a member of the BYU Young
Ambassadors, I get to see this musical unification process firsthand. As a group, we will travel and perform all over the world throughout the next year. While we are performing, we will strive to share our love for our audience members through music. This will undoubtedly unify us to everyone that we come in contact with. Our goal is to share light and hope with the world.

There is a man named Hyung Joon Won who shares the same goal. Won has a vision of
reunification of North and South Korea. To reach his goal he has turned to music. Won uses music to unify and create peace in a time of disarray. An article in The Harvard Crimson states, “Won, a Juilliard-trained violinist, has worked for more than eight years to create an ensemble that allows young musicians from North Korea and South Korea to interact through music rather than politics.” Won has tried to perform with these students at many peace concerts, but the support was not there, and the concerts fell through. Although tensions are still very tight, his music brings people together and creates hope for reunification.

The political climate in the world is not always positive. This is why supporting the arts
is so important these days. There is a need for unity throughout the entire world, and by supporting the arts — starting with the arts at BYU — we can make that happen.

—Hailey Hyde
Highland, Utah

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