Shouldn’t This Be Against the Honor Code?

John NilssonMormon 43 Comments

Some background.  The University of Utah athletic teams go by the name “Utes”.  BYU are the “Cougars”.  The Utes are also an American Indian tribe.  The Trail of Tears was the forced expulsion of the Cherokee, during which many died, from their ancestral lands in the eastern United States to what is now Oklahoma. Reservations are the remnant of the old lands where Indians were confined after their treaties were for the most part ignored by the U.S. government in the nineteenth century.  These pictures were taken at BYU in November 2007 during a volleyball game between the U and the Y by a U of U Daily Chronicle reporter, Tyler Cobb.

Apparently, the woman holding the sign is a BYU student.  Apparently, this type of behavior is not against the Honor Code.  Does anyone know who she is and if she has been disciplined for her lack of honor?

Comments 43

  1. Classless.

    I’ve joked with some of my friends who attended BYU that if BYU were really wanted students to become more Christ-like, it would drop the sports program entirely. Anyone who has attended a BYU-Utah football game knows that it brings out the worst in fans (it goes both ways, of course, but it’s much more jarring coming from a BYU fan, someone who is, presumably, LDS).

    But seriously, if the “competitive spirit” of collegiate athletics that students are learning at BYU is at all exemplified by the above, maybe it’s time for the Lord’s University to drop the programs.

  2. Andrew Jackson allegedly appeared with the founding fathers in the St. George Temple. So I guess genocide is cool, as long as its just bad or lesser known lamanites…or their football rival proxies.

  3. Ugh. Speaking of honor code violations, I almost hope they were drunk there.

    Yeah Fooboy, we’re all big fans of genocide around here. Grow up.

  4. This is an embarrassment. The PR dept should crack the whip. I’m with Andrew. Drop the sports program entirely. What’s the point anyway?

  5. You wonder what the reaction would be at BYU and within the Mormon world at large if similar signs were made with anti-LDS slogans. You know, like if BYU played the University of Missouri and some student made a sign saying “Haun’s Mill II–you’re going to lose this one too”.

  6. Kendall –

    I think you’re exactly right – BYU would be up in arms, PR would have a field day, etc etc. And though it is one individual instance, shouldn’t the U pitch a fit about it? I believe it IS an honor code issue, because there is an entire section in the BYU honor code about “Respecting Others”
    If I were the U, I would be a stink about this – that is unacceptable IMO, and it needs to be addressed.

    Which then begs the question – what would foster an environment for someone to post something like that?

  7. What a horribly insensitive display. Regardless of how much ignorance they might have about the injustices they are mocking, they should know deep down that their display is wrong. A high school in Arizona made news when they played a reservation team and the fans created the cheer, “we pay taxes yes we do….how bout you?” This triggered several letters to the town’s newspaper. At least it resulted in a venue to talk to the high school students about issues of sensitivity. As this BYU incident was in November, can anyone comment on whether this became publicized and whether any apologies were issued?

    Is it really fair to drop all the sports programs because the most well attended events create poor fan behavior? I didn’t see the worst in fans being brought out by track and field events, but maybe times have changed. Sports teams also give service to the community in visiting sick kids in hospitals and promoting anti-drug campaigns, both of which are a positive influence for youth.

  8. I dislike the whole Honor Code method of enforcing conformity (even if some conformity is beneficial). It is an environment down there Protecting The Code is more important than “weaselly” behavior like squealing on others.

    That said, this _is_ offensive. And an excellent opportunity for BYU to do some good PR in identifying not only poor sportsmanship, but especially that which comes at racial and cultural insensitivity. But I don’t like the idea of them enforcing The Code as a way to punish admittedly politically-insensitive speech. Doesn’t public shaming work so much better? 😉

  9. “Which then begs the question – what would foster an environment for someone to post something like that?”

    Brandt, as offensive as this is, it is pale in comparison to what can be heard and seen at MANY athletic events and on campuses around the world. It grates because we hope the students at BYU don’t succumb to this sort of stupidity. What would foster the environment? Youthful stupidity and arrogance and insensitivity – same as any other campus, but not as widespread as most.

  10. I will take any of your bets (and eventually your money) that nothing Honor Code-related is going to happen here. The Honor Code as such is far too narrowly drawn and focused on a couple of so-called “moral” principles, rather than a broad notion of what it means to be a good citizen and member of the academy. As with all mission statements, those principles that are not directly Gospel-oriented (in the narrow way that we draw lines around the Gospel), like “respect others”, are so vague as to be unenforceable. After all, who is interested in mentioning how some girl is dishonoring the memory of thousands of Native Americans when your female classmate’s cleavage is preventing you from having the Spirit in your Calculus class? The fact that some Native Americans could seriously be offended by such signs are probably totally eluded this girl, and almost everyone else at BYU.

    Yes, I appreciate the irony that I am placing a bet on this. But I did not go to BYU, so any off the rest of you that avoided Provo can bet with me.

  11. College students will act stupid whether you have a honor code or not. Does anyone recall the incident between Stanford and Notre Dame back in the late 90’s? Let me remind you. Stanford marching band played a parody of the “Irish potato famine”. This was quite a slap in the face to both Catholics and Irish, which led to the ban of the Stanford marching band from Notre Dame games for several years. There are inconsiderate people everywhere (even at BYU)so let’s not point the finger at a particular school, but encourage everyone to be respectful of other cultures and peoples.

  12. I’m with JfQ: This is offensive and wrong. At the same time, using the honor code to club people whom you find unorthodox in some way is lame, regardless of your position.

    And one girl’s behavior reflects the entire university’s racial environment? She should have been asked to put the sign away and maybe to eave the building, full stop.

    Does anyone know who she is and if she has been disciplined for her lack of honor?
    This mindset makes me more angry than the sign, to be honest.

  13. Poor sportsmanship is everywhere. A friend of mine is the mother of a UCLA football player. She commented, “I thought BYU fans were bad. Utah fans are like BYU fans, but drunker.”

    Lest anyone should think UCLA fans are great, I went to the Las Vegas Bowl (they played BYU), and heard several fans saying, “I hate Mormons, I mean Morons.”

    I’m not sure that the Honor Code is the place to address this. Anyone hear what fans shout at Barry Bonds? It is a societal problem. People think it is ok to say or do anything at a sporting event that is just unacceptable in any other environment.

  14. Most worrying thing for me is that the leadership at BYU chose to ignore this kind of thing, but they don’t ignore long hair on men, tattoos or sleeping in on Sundays? I may be wrong here but I read from that honor code that there’s a generic declaration of respect but it doesn’t have a separate anti-racist entry for students to follow.

    #2 FooboyX:

    ‘Andrew Jackson allegedly appeared with the founding fathers in the St. George Temple’

    Now I see why they let Adolf Hitler linger on FamilySearch (not baptized) or allowed John D Lee to be rebaptized but they keep blaming the Indians for the killing of women and children at Mountain Meadows (Turley, Ensign 2007).

    Sometimes I get the impression that racism is a part of the faith instead of a problem to overcome.

  15. These signs are inappropriate, but what is worse? This girl and her sign, or the ‘Utes’ for having an Indian tribe represent their sports program? Let’s all paint our bodies red and cheer for our team (see picture at,1249,590040138,00.html) If we wouldn’t have killed off all the Indians and put the remaining few on reservations, they would probably object to this behavior. What if a white school in the South painted themselves black and were the Creoles? Could you imagine something like the LSU Creoles? Just because the NCAA allows Utah to do this, and what’s left of the tribe doesn’t object – is it the right thing to do?

  16. Post

    FYI-These pictures were on display at the rededication of the U of U’s American Indian Resource Center,along with a petition to the BYU administration to issue an apology on behalf of the woman in question and to call for sensitivity training for their fans. Several deans and vice-presidents present signed, as did I. Most of the signers represented a cross-section of tribes.


    I couldn’t agree more. There was a scripture about straining at gnats and swallowing camels somewhere…

    Green Mormon Architect,

    Good point.

  17. Not everything that is wrong is against the honor code (although I think this probably is). Nor is it the job of the honor code office to investigate every instance of un-Christlike behavior. The honor code does not replace the gospel.

    And I remember when I was at BYU there was a lot of effort made by the administration to encourage sports fans to be good sports, but certainly it would be impossible to investigate every instance of offensive behavior.

  18. #21: Asking BYU to apologize and start a training program because of 1 fan? I’d sign the petition if it asked for this student to apologize. BYU is not responsible for individual behavior. If it were an ongoing problem, then I’d see your point.

  19. Jonathan Mahoney #11: I assume I speak for most when I say that it is in no way funny. It shows a complete lack of maturity (and intelligence, judgment, class, etc) and would only appeal to like-minded individuals.

    Green Mormon #20: I agree about the whole mascot issue, I think it is tangential at best and suitable for a secular blog. The issue at hand is the behavior of those who attend what many of them regard as “The Lord’s University.”

    The honor code is ridiculous in and of itself, but allowing this behavior to continue without any sort of discipline to the student is even more perplexing.

  20. #26 – I think the aforementioned petition (see #21) would have been appropriate. I’m not talking extreme or drastic measures here, but a written apology from the girl (as required by the university) would seem adequate to me.

  21. Apparently most of you have not heard that BYU has in fact emphasized better sportsmanship as part of the effort to clean up various athletic programs. And this has worked to some degree. The program has done a better job of treating guests with respect, including the folks up at the U. The University of Utah has responded very nicely in kind.

    Unfortunately, there are still students who have no sense of what civility actually means. I must say, however, that if anything were to be done about such insensitivity in terms of the honor code, it would be a private matter and would not even make it into the press.

    As I said, I’ve been very impressed with both Utah and BYU fans at all events this year, regardless of the victors. The bloggers continue to be the worst, because they do not have to identify themselves.

    Apparently there is a mythical Utah fan out there with a third grade education, forty extra pounds of tummy, and alcohol breath who just cannot control his impulses to push old ladies and scream obscenities during games. At the same events there is also a mythical BYU fan whose appearance is shiny and happy, who informs others around him that they are not shiny and happy, which is especially creepy when your team is losing, and before long your eternal salvation is connected either losing to BYU or beating them call.

    Both of these mythical fans go to Utah Jazz games as well and are seen as the primary reason why the Jazz have the best home record in the NBA.

  22. Organized sports brings out the worst in everyone, and unfortunately here in the fishbowl we tend to heap praise, worship, and positive religious attributes on people who can throw a football or dribble better than others, regardless of their behavior or testimony. It gets even sillier when the two unofficial centers of religious philosophy and lifestyle in this state compete for sports DOMINANCE (said with a deep announcer voice) year after year, after year, after silly year.

    In the words of a wise man “two craps will never make soap” and so it is with BYU and U of U sports.

  23. ‘I agree about the whole mascot issue, I think it is tangential at best and suitable for a secular blog. The issue at hand is the behavior of those who attend what many of them regard as “The Lord’s University.”’

    I think it is this kind of unwillingness to discuss issues beyond our own noses that gives people, both inside and outside of the faith, the wrong impression about what our church is all about. This kind of forum should be open to discussing matters of culture to gain understanding rather than ignoring what is around us, or perhaps I mistakenly wandered into a Sunday School lesson…

  24. Kendall Smith :—

    “Haun’s Mill II–you’re going to lose this one too”

    Hahaha! That’s hilarious. If BYU ever plays the UMKC Roos, I’m totally bringing that sign!

    Hey, BYU! I think I found all of your 10-foot-poles!

    You guys are Mormons: you should know that the University of Missouri will always be better than BYU!

  25. I am an alumnist of the University of Utah and received a degree in Anthropology. When considering which school to attend before transferring from a community college, BYU was considered. I left the academic advisory office in Provo with a strange feeling that BYU saw themselves as a superior educational institution who required a high level of intelligence from perspective students as a prerequisite to attending the school. These expectations are fine, but it was the premise upon which they made these claims that bothered me (the whole “god is on our side” thing), but this is a discussion for another time. When I first saw these pictures I could not help thinking back to this meeting and the intelligence prerequisite and today seeing this intelligence manifesting its self so proudly, one can only laugh and shake his/her head with a sense of irony.

    Of course none of this really matters, but it is an interesting experience!

  26. I’ll blame these girls’ lack of class and blatant ignorance on their insulated upbringing. Right up there with the return missionary talk I heard in which the elder referred to an African American, who used to hassle him and his companion, as “a porch monkey”. I wanted to crawl under the pew and out the door. No one around me even raise an eyebrow. HELLO

  27. Zenaida:
    I have no problem discussing the issue, as I said in my comment I think the issue to which you refer is an important one. I agree with your stance on it as well. My only point is that it is unrelated to the subject at hand (see post title). I would love to discuss the issue, but I don’t see how it specifically relates to “Mormon Matters.” The University of Utah is not a church-owned university.

  28. I am a Native American, recent graduate of the U, and the person who wrote the petition mentioned above. I think an apology is due from BYU for this behavior and as far as training fans on cultural sensitivity “how about adding a cultural fact on a sports program when it is relavent or reiterating the Honor Code and respect of others in the BYU Newspaper prior to a game?”, these would be economical training and also serve an educational purpose.

    I also do not support the U’s being called the Utes but that is another story all together. I will say that I have never purchased a peice of clothing from the U that had the name Ute on it or the drum and feather emblem.

  29. On April 17th “Tyler” made the comment – “The University of Utah is not a church owned university.” However, the “U” was founded by Brigham Young himself. The original name was “University of Deseret” but because the U of D loss money the school was shut down. Today, many of the U’s faculty, staff and students are members of “the church”. Many church members participate and pay big bucks to be a part of the “holy war”. In a way, “the church” owns the University of Utah.

    I want to take that lady holding the sign and her friends surrounding her to go back to the reservation with me. Let them meet the people. Have them participate in early morning pray runs, preparing the fields for planting of seeds, pulling weeds in the fields, hauling water, chopping wood, making bread, hunting, preparing the meat, preparing the harvest, blessing the land, food and water. And eating the food, helping our elders, listening to the creation stories. What does it mean to be native? What does it mean to be Ute?

    These people have no clue whatsoever!

  30. I believe it harsh to not call this offensive. I mean it makes me think twice about the kind of school that BYU is… to allow such hatred towards American Indians in a sporting event of all things.
    I am a American Indian and a Ute at that… and wow.. what a slap to the face… I mean first off… just the mere fact that the Northern Utes allow our tribal name to be used in such a way is more than a slap to the face…when in fact they know of the hatred between the mormons and the native americans… and still allow BYUs rival school to continue with the nick of the “running utes”
    So some you may find this funny or just push it aside… put yourself in our shoes for one day and you know why we would are angry.

  31. Sports and civility just don’t mix. A missionary companion I had was a U of U student (I am European-educated) and he admitted his shame about coming out to the field (I think it was volley ball, but that’s irrelevant) in a game against BYU in a Y arena, flipping a double birdie to the Y fans. (This happened in the late 1970s so you won’t have it on YouTube.) 😉

    I also remember when I was a kid that we would fight with the fans of the visiting hockey teams. Then I grew up and got religion. Haven’t followed sports in almost 30 years because of how awful I feel about fan behavior.

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