Brigham Young Has Banned Beards for Decades. Could a New Petition Change Its Stance?

Brigham Young Has Banned Beards for Decades. Could a New Petition Change Its Stance?


At Brigham Youthful College in Provo, Utah, beards have been banned on campus due to the fact the increase of the counterculture motion, when they were believed to be involved with hippies and antiwar sentiments many youthful persons expressed in the 1960s and ’70s.

“Men are envisioned to be clean up-shaven beards are not appropriate,” the school’s dress and grooming expectations point out.

Sideburns are allowed, but they “should not lengthen below the earlobe or on to the cheek.” Mustaches should be “neatly trimmed and may possibly not prolong over and above or under the corners of the mouth.” These models, the standards suggest, are “consistent with the dignity adherent to symbolizing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and any of its institutions of larger education.”

Each and every couple of yrs, a group of learners band with each other to test and transform this, for the reason of self-expression or on spiritual grounds. Now, Warner Woodworth, a Brigham Youthful College professor emeritus, has taken up the charge. What’s novel about Mr. Woodworth’s approach is his argument.

But he comprehended that could possibly not usually be the scenario. “The regulations are issue to improve, and I would be shocked if they have been not transformed at some time in the foreseeable future,” he explained.

Over the many years, the coverage has loosened subsequent force from college students. In 2015, the university begun making it possible for exceptions for spiritual motives.

That conclusion followed a study by Brigham Younger University professors Ray L. Huntington and Shon D. Hopkin, in which Muslim students on campus have been interviewed to fully grasp their perspectives although attending the faculty.

Two male Muslim college students claimed they “had a tough time reconciling the prohibition of beards at B.Y.U. with their very own cultural expectations relating to facial hair but nonetheless adopted the principles and have been clear-shaven,” the researchers wrote. (Some working towards Muslim persons make spiritual vows to under no circumstances thoroughly shave their beards, and culturally, Muslim males with facial hair are regarded much more enlightened and respected.)

The university also now permits exceptions for these with roles in theatrical productions as properly as pupils with pseudofolliculitis barbae, or bumps from ingrown hairs.

But the process of getting a beard waiver is tiresome, and there can be economical obstacles.

“I would get definitely terrible ingrown hairs from shaving, so I was ultimately like, ‘OK. I’m accomplished with this. Let’s see how quick it is to get this waiver,’” said Ethan Walker, a recent graduate scholar at Brigham Younger University.

Last fall, Mr. Walker mentioned that he had to go to the pupil health and fitness centre and shave each and every day for 3 days in a row to confirm he experienced the ailment. He could not get a observe from his possess health practitioner, and he was billed about $70, soon after insurance plan. “There are a lot of hoops for anything which is modest, but also aggravating and distressing,” he claimed.

The beard ban has other unintended — albeit much less severe — outcomes. “Being cleanse shaven is form of a defining trait of a B.Y.U. scholar. But then, immediately after leaving, a great deal of my learners expand out their facial hair,” claimed Kevin John, a professor at Brigham Young’s College of Communications. “A beard then turns into a defining trait of a B.Y.U. grad, for the reason that they couldn’t do it just before.”

Mr. John said he believed that the “negative stigma” of beards has seriously disappeared. Now, Mr. John claimed, beards have “a little little bit of an air of difference about them. I feel they have a minimal little bit of professionalism.”

In excess of the study course of his virtually 40 yrs instructing at Brigham Younger, Mr. Woodworth has served as an adviser for unofficial student beard clubs on a number of occasions.

“Every 5 to seven yrs, a team of male students would appear to me and say we want to modify the campus society,” Mr. Woodworth explained. “I’d meet up with with them from time to time and really encourage them and hear to them as they explained their wishes or passions or passions for acquiring facial hair at this campus.”

In new months, Mr. Woodworth recognized many men in the congregation at church meetings experienced beards. Many professors teaching from household had also commenced to expand out their facial hair. “I at last explained ‘OK, I’ll get started a petition,’” Mr. Woodworth explained.

He was generally just one to stand up for what he thought in — even if it meant butting heads with the university — so it was not a fantastic shock to quite a few of Mr. Woodworth’s colleagues that he set the ball rolling this time. “Beards are just 1 piece of a even larger dilemma of opening up the campus,” he claimed.

The professor has been a longtime advocate of cultural and racial diversity on campus. Earlier this yr, he released an impression piece in favor of significant race idea, in a state the place legislators ended up organizing to ban it.

In 2007, he publicly questioned the alternative of Dick Cheney as graduation speaker, and as a Brigham Youthful student in the 1960s, Mr. Woodworth participated in marches from the Vietnam War.

“We productively released various strategies against a variety of U.S. interventions, which include Reagan’s invasion of Grenada, G.H.W. Bush attacking Panama, and the young Bush, whom we identified as ‘W,’ relating to his invasion of Iraq, which we turned down as a menace to harmless societies,” he reported.

In regards to antiwar rallies on campus, Mr. Woodworth explained, “unlike most American universities in which big demonstrations are baked in educational cultures, B.Y.U. has generally suffered opposition to any countrywide criticisms by its college and/or learners.”

The dilemma nevertheless stays: Are beards prophetic?

A prophet is described as a human being regarded as an encouraged trainer or a proclaimer of God’s will. Technically, that designation could be relished by a person of any gender.

But as is the situation with other religions, all of the prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-working day Saints have been male.

“The L.D.S. Church is incredibly considerably a patriarchal church, and it has been led by guys through its background,” explained Quincy Newell, a professor of spiritual research at Hamilton College. And “as a factor that frequently only adult males are ready to activity,” Dr. Newell mentioned, beards are connected with masculinity.

In religions in which gender is viewed in a different way, beards might not have the identical symbolic worth. “The Shakers, established by Ann Lee, noticed gender in quite diverse strategies, and I imagine, would not say beards are prophetic,” Dr. Newell said. “They had a governing council that was composed of both equally guys and gals, and so women of all ages had a considerably more substantial say in the movement.”

Of training course, most Mormons probably are not seeking to activity a beard in buy to resemble a prophet. They possibly just like them.

Currently, there is an exertion to be extra mainstream within the church, according to Michael E. Nielsen, a professor of psychology and religion at Ga Southern College. “There’s this tension between becoming component of culture but not as well significantly,” he stated.

That rigidity is specially acute for some Mormon women of all ages. For illustration, girls at B.Y.U. fought to have on pants in the 1970s and right now, some Mormon females are pushing for far better fitting and extra comfy sacred undergarments.

But the guidelines can prolong to far more arbitrary factors: In 2017, caffeinated soda was eventually authorized to be marketed on B.Y.U.’s campus following in excess of half a century of a ban on gross sales.

Beards may perhaps not have adequate regard to be fought for, or recognized, as a norm. But “if we wait around two much more many years and a bunch of new pupils occur into campus and say ‘we want to do it,’ I’ll consider again, and I’m guaranteed that someday the transform will come about,” Mr. Woodworth mentioned. “This is just a person far more endeavor.”



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Posted by Krin Rodriquez

Passionate for technology and social media, ex Silicon Valley insider.