For the record, I attended BYU many years ago. My experience with the Honor Code is limited because I took only a couple of night classes before I figured out where I wanted to go with the rest of my education.
However, I have considerable experience with Honor Code-type transgressions, something of which I’m neither proud nor ashamed. It falls more in the category of “meh.”
Other BYU students, former and current, say their experiences with the Honor Code Office have been intrusive, abusive and even exclusive, meaning they were kicked out when it was discovered that they had strayed.
If the church is serious about bringing about real change to the way the Honor Code Office interacts with troubled students, it needs to stop using Honor Code personalities and start employing people with extensive experience in transgression to deal with students.
Someone like me.
While I have never been to the Honor Code Office — and wouldn’t go if ordered — I do have some understanding of how these “interviews” might have gone based on the sexual abuse interviews I witnessed as a cop. Combining the two, and taking considerable license, I imagine it’s something like this:
Weeping student • “And then I touched her/him — sob — inappropriately.”
Honor counselor • “Well, that’s certainly horrible. What’s this other person’s name?”
At some point, a doll might be introduced into the interview and the transgressor invited to indicate the extent of the violations by pointing to specific parts of the doll.
“Did you touch the other person in this area? What about here? And here? Hey! Look at the gosh darn doll! What about right here?”
After wringing out an emotionally scarring confession, the official then demands that the student write the other person’s name on a piece of paper along with the names of anyone who may have been featured in an inappropriate dream.
I am, of course, overthinking how these interviews might go. Just a bit.
These interviews would be considerably less traumatizing if BYU were to book people like me to conduct them. In such a case, the questions would go like this:
“Is anyone dead or likely to be so because of your violation of the Honor Code?
“Did your violation occur because of the forcible violation of another person and/or animal?”
If both answers were “no,” I would proceed to the final and most important question of all:
“Do you plan to commit this violation again?”
Let’s assume the answer here would be something akin to “absolutely not.”
Lastly comes the consideration of punishment for the actual confessed violation. This would be — in my case — easy.
Student • [Sobbing hysterically] “Please … I’m so sorry. So very sorry.”
Me • “OK, enough. Go back to class. And try not to listen to the devil anymore. He’s a jerk.”
I predict the “problem” would, nine times out of 10, correct itself. Something like that has more or less worked for all of us at some point.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.