On March 16, 2011 a BYU student was fired from his job for swearing when a delivery cart slipped and hit his shin (see Deseret News story). There were other factors that came into play, but clearly this was the event that led to his termination. Now... I'm a BYU student and I agree to live the honor code. I know what it is and I willingly try to live by it, same as I do with other principles and teachings of the church. But I'm not perfect, and I don't expect myself or anyone else to be. To me, this event showcases (1) a terrifically terrible act of judgment on the behalf of the management that decided to fire the student, (2) a poor act of judgment on behalf of the student that felt the need to report the behavior to management and (3) another poor act of judgment on behalf of the student who let out the expletive. It doesn't appear to me that this is an issue over the practicality of the Honor Code, as it probably does from the outside looking in. The Honor Code is a set of governing rules that encourage students to live smart, study smart, and improve themselves. The Honor Code is great. It helps students who try and live by it. As I'm sure this student was.
But when other students, student employees and faculty members mistake the BYU Honor Code for a code of perfection by which all must measure up to, that's when it gets ugly. The student probably shouldn't have sworn, but at the same time the co-worker probably could have avoided a huge debacle if he or she had had the judgment to approach him and say "hey, I don't like that, can you watch it next time?" If it was me (and this situation could've easily happened to me or about half of BYU campus) I would listen to a co-worker's request to watch my mouth, and I'd do better next time. And I certainly feel that the management that heard this complaint and immediately fired the student the same day just doesn't get it. They don't understand the point of the Honor Code, if that was their reasoning for firing the student. I mean how could you do that? I really don't understand why a manager would feel justified for letting someone go based off of a swear word let out as a by-product of pain. It just isn't justified in the least. I feel bad for the kid.
That's why I hope that this situation, along with the Brandon Davies situation, can help all of us at BYU to use the Honor Code constructively, and not as a bar of perfection that all persons must keep without exception, oneself included. BYU students agree to live a higher standard that most. But that does not make one person that steps onto BYU campus any better than any other kid on any college campus in the world, whether they're living by the Honor Code or not.
Letter: Fired for swearing