The Irascible ProfessorSM
Irreverent Commentary on the State of Education in America Today

by Dr. Mark H. Shapiro

"There's never a new fashion but it's old."... ...Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

Commentary of the Day - Nov. 19, 2000:  BYU Bans Heavy Metal!

Every once in awhile an item comes across the IP's desk (or computer) that is too humorous not to mention.  The most recent such item was a news story by Jeffrey P. Haney of the Deseret News outlining a recent change in the dress code at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  It seems that starting with the spring 2001 semester women students at this outpost of Mormon rectitude will be limited to one pierced earring per ear.  Currently BYU women are allowed two pierced earrings per ear, but apparently the Honor Code office at BYU decided to change the standard after recent comments on the subject by LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley.

According to Haney's article, President Hinckley recently told young adult church members to eschew tattoos and body piercing beyond one set of earrings for women.  In a previous pronouncement at the church's semiannual general conference Hinckley said that:

"The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have declared that we discourage tattoos and also the piercing of the body for other than medical purposes...."  "We do not, however, take any position on the minimal piercing of the ears by women for one pair of earrings -- one pair."
Not surprisingly, the BYU dress code flat out bans ear piercing, or any other body piercing for that matter, for male students.

Clearly the powers-that-be at good old BYU can set any dress code standards that they want.  However, it is a bit amusing to contemplate the enforcement difficulties that this dress code might entail.  If a BYU coed is allowed one pair of pierced earrings, could she wear both of them in a single ear?  Could she wear a pierced earring in one ear, but not the other.  Is there some special religious significance to the pronouncement that one pair of pierced earrings is OK but not two pairs?  Will BYU women who currently wear two pairs of pierced earrings have to undergo plastic surgery to get right with the Prophet?

What about the BYU campus police?  Will they conduct midnight raids in the dorms to see if any student is surreptitiously wearing a metal adornment someplace else than in the ears?  Given the predilections of some students these days to wear jewelry where the sun does not usually shine, enforcement efforts could prove quite interesting.  Indeed, perhaps every BYU campus patrol car will be equipped with its own portable metal detector for just such emergencies.

The tattoo issue is even more perplexing.  We don't even want to contemplate the possibilities there.

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© 2000 Dr. Mark H. Shapiro - All rights reserved.