Brittany Molina's "Honor Code Violation" photo and note on Facebook

There are a number of reasons why I’m blogging about this topic today. So let me start off by pointing out the obvious – if you’re trying to avoid attention of any kind, don’t post air your dirty laundry online because you are going to be overwhelmed by good and bad press whether you like it or not. In the case of the BYU student who posted this online in response to a note she received from a fellow student about a perceived violation of the school’s honor code, I’m guessing this poor girl is second-guessing her decision that has led to her sudden notoriety.

When I first saw the teaser on the local news the first thing that crossed my mind was a question that I’ve often asked myself – ‘Why would someone enroll in a school that holds you to a higher moral standard if you’re just going to criticize and question the honor code that you agreed to abide by?’ As I said earlier, it was my first reaction. It’s always my first reaction because from my own experience this has always been and will always be a hot topic of discussion and contention for obvious reasons – being modest and living by a higher moral code is not a policy of most colleges and universities around the globe. But BYU requires it of its students, faculty, staff and administration. It is based on the fundamental teachings and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If this is a big selling point for you while shopping around for the right university than this is a good place to pursue your education. However, if you are not keen on the stringent policies and codes of conduct, than you are better suited for a college that does not include the acronym’ BYU’ in its name.

It’s that simple. Unfortunately, some want their cake but they don’t want to bake it and they certainly are not going to partake either. In this case however, I completely jumped the gun because it was not Brittany Molina or the institution itself that had an issue with Brittany’s clothing – Nope, it was a fellow student who had an issue and felt compelled to point it out to Brittany, who unwittingly thought she was being handed a Valentine’s Day love letter.

We have heard this issue discussed a number of times from students enrolled at BYU for as long as the school’s stringent behavior code was implemented. Sadly, this is not the first time I have heard of another student taking ‘the law’ into their own hands at BYU and this leads me to my next point – some people have an opinion and feel the need to enforce or impose that opinion on others. I also have an issue with people who want to stand on a moral pedestal but do not have the intestinal fortitude to look another person in the eye and tell them to their face that they have a problem and would like to discuss it with them. Instead, the author of this note drops it in Ms. Molina’s lap and disappears; cowardly and craven.

On the one hand I get it – if we agreed to the university’s honor code than we should all live by it because nothing aggravates me more than people who try to circumvent policy for their own profit or gain. But I don’t see any problem with Ms. Molina’s attire and if someone is going to enforce the law it should be those who are tasked with enforcing it, namely BYU administration and faculty. If you have issue with it, speak to me directly (side note: I don’t wear leggings). I will listen to your opinion as an equal and decide on my own whether I have crossed the line or if I am within my rights according to the guidelines and policies as outlined by the institution.

On the other hand, placing your trust in the court of popular opinion puts you at risk for a backlash and a firestorm that you may not be prepared for, especially if you are a college student who just wants to earn a degree and move on with life under the relatively safe cloak of anonymity. I applaud her for her courage, but sometimes you have to laugh at the foolishness of some people and leave it at that. With today’s pervasive and all-encompassing social networking tools, posting something as innocent as this often comes with inauspicious and unwanted results.

I think the bigger problem in this story is Brittany Molina’s misuse and abuse of the word ‘LIKE’.