A student panel has recommended that Brigham Young University students be able to wear beards - but the men shouldn't throw out the shaving cream yet.
A committee under the university's Student Advisory Council has proposed an updated version of the Dress and Grooming Standards to include "beards and mustaches" if they are "neatly trimmed."Maybe they can put the beard back on Karl G. Maesar, who caused some controversy a few years ago when his picture appeared on the front of a BYU student directory without the beard that was in the original painting.
Chairwoman Kristen Smith said the committee tried to base every decision on the principles of integrity, modesty and cleanliness.
The proposal reads: "As students of Brigham Young University, we understand that modesty and cleanliness are key parts of personal dignity and integrity. Through our appearance we express our personal virtues and our dedication to intellectual, spiritual and personal development."
Smith said committee members came to the conclusion to add beards to the proposal when they could not find an answer to the question, "Why can you get a recommend to enter a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with a beard, but you can't go to BYU if you have one?"
LDS Church members feel they must be worthy and moral to enter temples, and Smith said, "We didn't feel there was any spiritual reason not to include beards in the proposal."
Smith said feedback to the proposal, which also adds that students may wear knee-length shorts, has been positive.
Even though this is just the first step in the process, BYU Student Service Association president Brett Blake said the students' ideas have been accepted very well.
"The proposal has been taken to the ad hoc committee," said Blake, referring to the committee organized by BYU President Rex Lee in September, which was designed to discuss the dress and grooming code.
But the ad hoc committee has every right to change anything in the proposal. Blake said this is just the student proposal, which, after the committee approval, will go to the President's Council and finally to BYU's board of trustees for approval.
Jaleen Nelson, a graduate student from Chino, Calif., said she believes it is a step in the right direction.
"If they (the ad hoc committee) will listen to the proposals, then it is worth it," Nelson said. "But if it is just a `show-piece,' then they have no right to do it."
Smith said that was one thing she didn't want to do: work toward a dead end.
"We didn't want to do what all the other committees before us had done," she said. "We are the first ones to rewrite the Dress and Grooming Standard and submit it for review. There is a good chance it will work."
Blake said one thing that hasn't been discussed yet is enforcement of the standard, but he said he feels "most students are just as concerned with enforcement as with changing the standard."
There is a consensus that things like men having to wear socks should be deleted, Blake said. "And frankly, I feel it will be."
Parts of the proposal include: "Clothing should be modest in fabric, fit and style. Tight-fitting or revealing clothing is not appropriate. Skirt and short lengths must come to the knee. Sleeveless tops, strapless dresses and low-cut necklines are also not acceptable."
"A clean and well-cared-for appearance should be maintained. Men's hair styles should be clean and neat. If worn, beards and mustaches must be neatly trimmed."
"Noticeably worn clothing should be kept to the living areas. Attire for all university activities should be consistent with these standards."
Many more steps
The proposal to allow Brigham Young University students to wear beards and to not wear socks is just the first step in a possible revision of the school's dress and grooming code.
The suggestions from a student committee go to an ad hoc committee appointed by the university president, then to the President's Council and finally the board of trustees, most of whom are general authorities of The Church Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.