The lack of communication about the revised Honor Code has harmed many at BYU, and the continued spread of misinformation is fostering contention on a campus that ought to be a leader in promoting Christlike love.
The Church Education System letter distributed Wednesday, March 4, came as a shock to many BYU students who claim to have received confirmation from the Honor Code office that gay dating would be not be punished after new Honor Code language was released on Feb. 19.
Members of BYU’s LGBT community have expressed sorrow and pain over the way the miscommunication was handled, saying it has left them feeling betrayed, vulnerable and unwelcome. Also under attack are groups standing up for the university’s right to set standards as a private school sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Regardless of the varied opinions about the construct of the Honor Code or other major issues at BYU, the campus community is best served when students, faculty and staff are kept in the loop so issues aren’t hijacked in a vacuum of information.
As the Honor Code situation continues to develop and as protests and counter-movements unfold, hateful speech against the LGBT community, against BYU and against the Church is easier to find than facts about the Honor Code changes. Such speech only serves to further shove apart an already divided community.
In his devotional address on March 3, President M. Russell Ballard said, “The Lord is aware of you. He loves you and is concerned about you individually and collectively. He is anxious to heal any wounded souls on this campus and to bring together each and every one of you in love and peace. We can help in the process as we love, seek forgiveness, offer forgiveness and seek to build bridges of understanding.”
This campus will not see the peace President Ballard promised unless administration, faculty and students seek to understand those with whom they disagree, share updated and factual information, speak kindly to one another and find constructive ways to express hurt and anger.
Lack of communication only feeds feelings of hopelessness and loss, and obscurity breeds contempt. Healing will only occur as members of the BYU community commit to suspending uninformed anger and listening to one another with respect.