Despite Honor Code concerns, BYU continues to host the Army and Air Force ROTC program

A colonel had been working from Utah Valley University rather than sign the Honor Code.

(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Members of the BYU Army ROTC run onto the field during the game at LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday, August 26, 2017.

They appeared to be on the move as recently as last winter, but it seems the ROTC programs at Brigham Young University aren’t going anywhere. 

“We have made zero plans at this point,” Maj. John Young, the assistant operations officer at Air Force ROTC Detachment 855 at BYU, said when asked earlier this month if a move to Utah Valley University was underway due to issues surrounding BYU‘s Honor Code. 

Classes for BYU’s fall semester begin Sept. 5. 

(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Members of the BYU Army ROTC fire the howitzer during the game at LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday, August 26, 2017.

Conn Carroll, a representative for Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said in an email Thursday that the senator and his staff were last briefed on the issue in May. 

“It is our understanding that no changes will be made,” Carroll wrote. 

A spokesman at the Pentagon, Army Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick, issued a statement Friday lauding LDS Church-owned BYU. 

“Department of Defense values its relationship with BYU, which has a long history of producing outstanding officers in the armed forces. The Department is developing plans for continued delivery of ROTC programs for students at BYU and across the Provo area. We will continue to involve the leadership of the local universities as these plans are more fully developed. We appreciate the leadership of BYU in advancing and protecting the interests of both the University and look forward to continuing our relationship in the future.” 

A conflict between the two ROTC programs, which train undergraduates to be officers in the U.S. military, and BYU emerged in the summer of 2016. The Air Force assigned Col. Timothy Hogan to be the new commander of the program at BYU — Detachment 855. The detachment, as well as an Army ROTC program, is headquartered at BYU’s Provo campus but also oversees the training of students at UVU in Orem. 

Hogan, an A-10 pilot and veteran of the post-9/11 wars, refused to sign the BYU Honor Code. The code sets standards for conduct and includes prohibitions on alcohol, coffee, tea, premarital sex, and physical intimacy among LGBT students at the school owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Hogan’s refusal led to talks between BYU President Kevin Worthen and officials at the Pentagon. Minutes of a Dec. 15 conference call show Worthen and the Defense Department made preparations to reverse the ROTC relationships between BYU and UVU. The programs’ headquarters would have moved to UVU. Officers there would have overseen the training of cadets at BYU. 

The minutes and other documents about the conflict showed the issue was not just about Hogan’s apprehensions, but that the Defense Department was worried about applying a religious test to a military appointment. 

Neither Carroll, Haverstick nor representatives of BYU or UVU would explain last week why the changes weren’t made or if the decision to keep the status quo could be traced to different philosophies between appointees from President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump. 

BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins in February told The Salt Lake Tribune that Hogan was working from UVU while BYU and the Pentagon worked out the issue. Both Jenkins and a UVU representative last week declined to say where Hogan was keeping an office. They referred all comment to the Defense Department. 

BYU will waive Honor Code requirements for one year for a visiting professor, but Hogan’s appointment is for three years.