Mormon News, March 30–April 3

In the News

Katie Zavadski, a writer for the Daily Beast, took an in-depth look at the fear BYU students experience when they begin questioning their LDS faith. For these young men and women, the glassdisorienting sense of losing one’s religious beliefs is coupled with the knowledge that they will be expelled from school if anyone finds out. A student group called “FreeBYU” has filed a complaint with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, which oversees BYU’s accreditation. FreeBYU raised two specific issues with the commission: 1) That BYU alone expels students for loss of faith, and 2) That decisions of worthiness to attend BYU are made by students’ local clergy, not the university. According to Brad Levin, a member of FreeBYU, “The Honor Code does not articulate what it takes to be eligible for an ecclesiastical endorsement, and because in practice unaccountable Bishops make this decision for a variety of inconsistent reasons, BYU students’ intellectual and academic freedom is impermissibly burdened.” FreeBYU is asking to have students who originally enroll at the university as Mormons but later lose their faith be charged the full tuition; right now, LDS students receive a discounted tuition rate that non-LDS students are ineligible for. BYU spokeswoman Carrie Jenkins told Zavadski that bishops do not act arbitrarily and, if students feel a bishop’s decision is unfair, they can appeal to their stake president.

In lighter BYU news, after the university posted an online survey about dress and grooming standards in the Honor Code, school administrators received answers they may not have anticipated. Students were asked to respond to such questions as “Why do you think BYU asks its students to comply with the Honor Code dress and grooming standards?” and “What is your motivation for following the Honor Code?” One anonymous BYU student posted his response to the internet, where his brutally honest answer quickly spread. After blaming the dress code on Ernest L. Wilkinson’s paranoia of communists and godless hippies, he said that “BYU atrophied and still pretends it is 1968.”

Lucky Blue Smith (yes, that’s his real name), a sixteen-year-old Mormon model, is being called the male model of the moment, and fashion industry watchers say they’ve never seen a response like this. The Smith family moved from Utah to California where an agency quickly signed Lucky Blue and his three older sisters to modeling contracts. But it is Lucky Blue that has broken out of the pack, boasting nearly a million Instagram followers and girls who actually faint when he hugs them. For his part, he claims to not know why girls are so into him—false modesty, or the genuine naiveté of a teenager?

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor