Instagram account highlights BYU Honor Code ‘horror stories’

Local News

PROVO, Utah (ABC4 News) – A graduate of Brigham Young University is using Instagram to get the school’s Honor Code updated. 

Sidney Draughon said she was investigated by the university’s Honor Code Office after someone in her hometown alerted them of a semi-crude tweet she had “liked” when she was in high school. 

“[The Honor Code Office] brought me in and showed me an 8.5″X11” print-out of the tweet I had “liked,” she said. “When I had been at BYU for a few months, [the person who turned me in] screenshot it…and submitted it to the Honor Code Office.”

She said the same individual turned her in to the Honor Code Office for other social media posts, including one of her in clothing that would not be approved of by the university’s dress code. 

“I wasn’t wearing BYU standard clothing,” she admitted. “I was on vacation with my cousin.”

Her negative experiences with Brigham Young University’s Honor Code Office prompted her to create an Instagram account where students and former students could vent their own negative experiences, Draughon said.  

She created the account Honor Code Stories after she graduated, for fear of getting in trouble with the university. 

“I want to do something,” she said. “I love, love, love BYU. The Honor Code has to change.”

Since Monday, the Honor Code Stories account has exploded due to students and former students sharing sometimes bizarre stories of campus Honor Code policing; anonymous submitters claimed they had been subjected to “community service” for infractions like drinking alcohol; some even claimed their confidential clergy confessions had been shared with the Honor Code Office by their ecclesiastical leaders. 

University spokesperson Carri Jenkins told ABC4 News student conversations with clergy members are privileged, unless the student gives permission for the Honor Code Office to include an ecclesiastical leader in an investigation. 

“Unless a student gives permission, no information is ever shared between an ecclesiastical leader and the Honor Code Office,” said Jenkins. “Even if an ecclesiastical leader withdraws a student’s endorsement, no information or reason is shared – unless given authorization from a student.”

Asked whether BYU had plans to “update” its Honor Code based on thousands of signatures in a change.org petition, Jenkins said, “We are always seeking input from our students.”

Still, reaction to the anonymous Instagram postings was swift, with some users outraged at some of the stories being told. 

Jordan Black, a current student at BYU, said he has never had a problem with the Honor Code Office. Still, he said some of his friends have been expelled for what he deems minor infractions that could have been dealt with less severely. 

“[The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] is preaching forgiveness and that we move on from our mistakes, and yet the institution of BYU doesn’t really reflect that sometimes,” said Black. 

The Honor Code prohibits premarital sex and drug and alcohol use among students at BYU, most of whom are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns the school. The Honor Code also prohibits men from wearing beards, unless given special permission, and does not allow more than one ear-piercing per ear for women. “Extreme hairstyles” are also discouraged. 

Academic honesty and participation in church are required as part of the Honor Code as well. 

Recently, former BYU linebacker Derik Stevenson made headlines when he suggested BYU grant an amnesty policy to students struggling with drug addiction. After a negative experience with the Honor Code Office, he felt unsafe to report his own drug addiction and get help. 

“I just thought, man, honesty with the Honor Code didn’t get me very far…it really put at risk everything I’d been working my whole life for,” Stevenson told ABC4 News in March. 

BYU has already made changes to its policies surrounding sexual assaults, allowing survivors to have amnesty from the Honor Code Office even if there were infractions at the time of the assault. 

>>>>>>>>>>Here are major changes to BYU’s Honor Code over the years<<<<<<<<<<<<

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