BYU is Denying Chad Hardy’s Degree

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Chad Hardy graduated officially from BYU on Aug 15, 2008 and walked with his class in the convocation ceremony.

One month earlier, on July 13, Chad was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for ‘conduct unbecoming of a member of the Church’ (which was specifically related to his part in publishing a calendar depicting shirtless return missionaries, the “Men on a Mission Calendar”).

Shortly after that, Chad received a letter from BYU dated Sept 30 informing him that his name had been removed from the August 15th graduating class list because of his excommunication prior to the posting of his degree.

Salt Lake Tribune Article: BYU yanks calendar maker’s diploma.

Some interesting facts about the case:

  • Chris claims, “the Church [tried] very hard to try to find a moral transgression by spying on me so they could excommunicate me for that instead of having to embarrass themselves by excommunicating me over the calendar.”
  • BYU has explained to Chris that if/when he ever rejoins the church and is in good standing, he may talk with them about the possibility of receiving his degree.
  • The calendar made media headlines in Utah for over a year before the Church contacted him about it.

Chris’s Myspace Page.

Whether you agree or disagree about Chris’s excommunication, it seems a little heavy handed for BYU to withhold the degree. I tend to agree with Chris’s statement that, “Had Hinckley been alive, he would have never allowed this to happen. He was a very media savvy man.”

Further Reading:

31 thoughts on “BYU is Denying Chad Hardy’s Degree

  1. If you read the Church’s response to this and why he was X’d it does make more sense, bad timing on the Church’s part, no question there. The SLC Trib article seems to make it something else.

    The thing that makes no sense, if he had been inactive for 6 years how was he still going to BYU? When I went there you had to have Bishop interviews like 2 times a year to remain current, or something like that.

  2. Hmm, well I know non members who attend or have attended BYU. In order to graduate though, you have to follow the honour codes this is perhaps why he had it denied? Not nice though for him after all his hard work. :(

  3. I seem to be a little confused; maybe someone can help me out. Many years ago as a (LDS) Seminary student I owned a copy of The Book of Mormon in which one of the most honored and revered (and ripped) missionaries of all time was prominently displayed without a shirt, and wearing what some might describe as a mini-skirt. That Arnold Friberg picture may still be in some more recent editions of the Book of Mormon, I don’t know. It is not in the copy I have at my desk today, although other Friberg pictures with shirtless church memebers are still included. The “Ammon Defends King Lamoni’s Flocks” picture is made available for gospel study on the Church’s own website at the following address.

    http://www.lds.org/hf/art/display/1,16842,4218-1-3-97,00.html

    My confusion is this. Why are such pictures sanctioned and even promoted by the Church while it excommunicates a member who markets calendars with perhaps less provocative pictures? There must be much more to the story than the just the calendar and church inactivity.

  4. If you read the Church’s response to this and why he was X’d it does make more sense…

    Where can I read that? Nowhere in the article does the Church respond. The article’s author states an “official” reason for the excommunication without ever stating his source. He then claims an anonymous “senior church elder” says the calendar was also a reason. Who’s this mysterious “senior church elder”? An elderly member of a local ward who heard a rumor?

  5. The Church’s article doesn’t give a clear answer as to why he was excommunicated. It merely states:

    “The [AP] article later states that Chad Hardy, the calendar’s creator, was excommunicated by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for producing this year’s calendar. However, Dobner was not present at the time of Hardy’s excommunication, nor did she participate in deliberations leading to this action and consequently can’t definitively draw such conclusions.”

    It’s a virtual non-answer.

    Chris, on the other hand, claims that:

    “There was NO talk of ANY form of personal transgression AT ALL during my disciplinary council.”

    “The entire meeting was about the calendar, and after I spoke, all the questions that were asked by the council ALL had to do with the calendar. Just for the record, my reasons for leaving the church had nothing to do with transgression.”

    So, at this point, we either have to assume Chris is telling the truth or wait for a statement of all the facts from the church.

    To me, the reasons for his dismissal are less important than the fact that BYU is withholding his degree.

    BYU, as a state accredited university, has a responsibility to give credit where credit is due. We may not agree on Chris Hardy’s choice of entrepreneurial ventures, but we must agree, he did earn his degree.

    He’s already been punished by the church. How much more prudent it would have been to just give him the piece of paper, instead they have chummed up the water for a media feeding frenzy. Now it’s embarrassing for BYU and the church.

  6. I dunno. This is, after all, the same university that will refuse to deliver your degree if you have so much as an unpaid parking ticket.

    @1: During my time, a lot of student ward bishops decided to be “nice”, rationalizing that it was better to keep a wayward student at BYU surrounded by “nice kids” than sending him back out into Babylon–or worse, California. ;-)

    The truth is, he apparently obtained his degree under false pretenses. That his bishop may have assisted in those false pretenses is troubling; but Hardy knew what was expected of him–and evidently, didn’t give a flying fetch about it.

  7. Was BYU technically justified in withholding Hardy’s degree? Yeah.

    Should it? I don’t think so. I think BYU should just give the man his degree rather than asking for more negative press. I’m tired of being embarrassed on behalf of my alma mater.

  8. So, at this point, we either have to assume Chris is telling the truth or wait for a statement of all the facts from the church.

    Not so. The Church generally doesn’t make public announcements about excommunications because of an obligation of confidentiality. That’s one reason that talking about excommunications are a favorite topic for people railing against the Church. They can do so unchallenged, even in cases where their stories are utterly false. I can’t imagine why you believe this man is entitled to an assumption of truthfulness.

    BYU, as a state accredited university, has a responsibility to give credit where credit is due. We may not agree on Chris Hardy’s choice of entrepreneurial ventures, but we must agree, he did earn his degree.

    State accreditation doesn’t impose an obligation on Brigham Young University to violate its long-stated policies regarding student conduct. Where students violate those policies, they are not entitled to the benefit of the university’s degrees. The ecclesiastical good standing of a student is every bit as much a requirement of that degree as the classes are.

    I’m tired of being embarrassed on behalf of my alma mater.

    Then stop being embarrassed about things that shouldn’t cause embarrassment.

  9. I can’t imagine why you believe this man is entitled to an assumption of truthfulness.

    Well, let me help you. Try imagining that EVERYONE is entitled to an assumption of truthfulness until there is at least an official statement to the contrary.

    His side of the story isn’t, in my humble opinion, too far fetched to be truth. I’m not betting my life on his version of the story, just saying, we should only go by the facts of the story as each side has presented it.

    State accreditation doesn’t impose an obligation on Brigham Young University to violate its long-stated policies regarding student conduct.

    Agreed.

    But BYU’s actions leaves a particularly bad taste in my mouth with regard to this specific incident.

    Then stop being embarrassed about things that shouldn’t cause embarrassment.

    Not to change the subject of the thread, but who decides what is embarrassing behaviour? I would say we as individuals each get to decide for ourselves. Continuing that thought, isn’t it appropriate to be embarrassed by association if one feels the institutions actions are embarrassing?

    There are many very poor policies that the church has had in the past that have changed. It IS appropriate to be embarrassed about those behaviours. It’s that kind of collective embarrassment that get things changed and makes the world a better place.

  10. This is just another reason to attend another university. Why deal with this kind of thing when you don’t have to?

    Also I feel sorry for those poor missionaries getting ex’d for doing the calendar with Hardy.

    … oh, that’s right. They weren’t. I guess their behaviour wasn’t ‘unbecoming’ enough.

  11. People are forgetting that he was inactive for several years already. I don’t think he really cared if he was excommunicated or not, or he wouldn’t have done that in the first place.

  12. I don’t think he really cared if he was excommunicated or not, or he wouldn’t have done that in the first place.

    I don’t see why anyone would have forgotten that he was inactive, but possibly we’ve forgotten that there are MANY reasons people fall away. Many people that don’t attend church still believe it.

    I also don’t think the point is whether he deserved to be excommunicated or not, but rather BYU’s decision to take away his degree. (Whether within their rights or not).

    Also, I don’t think it’s fair to say he didn’t care if he was excommunicated, but he did decide that continuing to publish the calendar was more important than bending to the will of his church leaders.

    If the topic were about his excommunication, then I think it’s fair to point out the hypocrisy concerning who you are as to whether you get your membership revoked or not.

    I wonder if the point of BYU’s punishment by snatching away his degree is because they think it’s for his own good to try and bribe him back into the fold or if they really believe that withholding a degree from someone that has met all the secular requirements is going to be good advertising for them as a morally superior university.

  13. Jeff, you bring up a good point. I’m not quite sure what BYU hopes to gain by holding back this individual’s diploma.

    I can’t see any upside for them and if the whole thing is just punative, it seems to be making a mountain out of a mole-hill.

    In the public at large, it seems that BYU might have their mountain fall on them…

  14. Jeff

    Yes, I know. But some people are focusing more on the excommunication rather than his degree being denied. Personally I don’t know whether that was right or not, but I don’t think his degree being denied was to ‘try and bribe him back into the fold’. Excommunication is actually something that doesn’t happen easily or quickly, and we don’t know all the details.

    But as far as the degree, I would have to know what all the requirements are for receiving it, but being a religious university, and private to boot, they do have the prerogative. If they were unjust though, I am sure he can contest it and bring a lawyer into the picture. If he feels he has a good case, I think he should. Especially after all the hard work he put into working for that degree.

    Maybe he did care if he was excommunicated. But if he did, he would have made efforts to avoid it. This particular situation though, I don’t THINK it was enough alone to have him excommunicated. I know people who have done WAY worse without being ex’d. The fact he was ex’d for this leads me to believe he didn’t show any desire to repent or change his ways (and again, we don’t know all that was involved, nor is it necessary for us to know).

    Bending to the will of the leaders or the will of God? I personally find the idea of a missionary calendar in such a manner to be in very poor taste and to be a mockery of sacred work, but I don’t think that alone would be enough to get him ex’d. Kicked out of the university? Perhaps. But there may very well have been other reasons involved. Who knows?

  15. I don’t think he was excommunicated over the calendar. The calendar may have been in poor taste, and as Mary says, a bit of a mockery of missionary work, but if everyone with poor taste were to be excommunicated that sister who brought that horrible Jello Salad to the last church potluck should be out as well. I mean, okay, talk to the guy and say don’t do it again, but excommunication? Plus the fact that the men who posed were ex’d tells me something. And as far as I’m concerned, the whole thing with BYU is just stupid. If it was me, I’d be lawyering up right now. I have a couple of non-member friends who went to BYU and they graduated without ever having joined the church. To take his diploma away is ridiculous IMO.

  16. I don’t think his degree being denied was to ‘try and bribe him back into the fold’

    So that leaves, punishing him for whatever reason, or because they are worried about their reputation in keeping up their strict moral code.

    If they were unjust though, I am sure he can contest it and bring a lawyer into the picture.

    Unjust in the moral sense might not be equivalent to unjust in the legal sense. He did sign onto the honour code and although it’s arguable that the publishing of such calendar’s doesn’t violate the Honor Code, his excommunication apparently does.

    Since it appears that his excommunication was directly related to the continuing publication of the calendar after his religious leaders told him not to, we’re into major grey area when it comes to both his and BYU’s legal position.

  17. Jeff

    Again we don’t know the whole reasoning. It’s an assumption that his excommunication was entirely related to not receiving his degree. Is it verified that the reason he was denied his degree was due to his being excommunicated? As I mentioned earlier, I know non members who have attended BYU (one in particular who was actually scouted by BYU for track and field) so I don’t know that membership has much to do with it. But following the rules would, and without all the information we can only assume one way or another.

    Still, if I were him I would be getting a lawyer and working on a case right now. Moral or legal, the university would have to follow the laws.

  18. Is it verified that the reason he was denied his degree was due to his being excommunicated?”

    As far as I know, the church has not made any official statements in regards Chad Hardy’s situation. All we have to go by is his website and the various news organizations that are running the story.

    From Chad’s MySpace page:

    Chad received a letter dated Sept 30 from BYU informing him that his name has been removed from the Aug 15 graduation because he was excommunicated from the church prior to the posting of his degree.

    From the AP article (linked above):

    A Sept. 30 letter from BYU Executive Director of Student Academic & Advisement Services Norman B. Finlinson states that a nonacademic hold was placed on Hardy’s record after the university learned of the excommunication.

    It sounds like membership has everything to do with it.

    Moral or legal, the university would have to follow the laws.

    I think you missed my point. My point in bringing up the difference between the word “unjust” in a moral sense versus a legal sense is this:

    If it is unjust in the legal sense, then justice could be served by forcing the university to give him his degree through legal channels.

    If it is unjust only in the moral sense (ie. my moral compass says the right thing for them to do is award the degree) then it’s unjust but the university is not compelled to give him anything because by the letter of the law, they don’t have to.

  19. I’m not particularly embarrassed by BYU’s actions, i’m more embarrassed by those stupid calendars…

    Why? The calendar is just a series of pictures of shirtless guys. You can see just as many male nipples at the Deseret Towers pool on any given summer day. It’s a silly reason to kick someone out of the Church, and it’s a silly reason to deny someone a degree.

    Look, we all know that BYU’s policies justify withholding Hardy’s diploma. That’s great. But BYU’s actions nonetheless make it look petty. I mean, seriously, can you imagine Notre Dame doing something similar? Not in a million years.

    Am I ashamed of my alma mater? Hell yes I am. But I’m growing used to it.

  20. Oh and I was wrong, I guess his excommunication was directly related to that. But I wonder how non members can attend, since that wouldn’t apply to them. Rules are different for them, I guess?

  21. Do all Mormons want to revise history and remove anything they dislike or, as they might see more justifyiable, anything they deem wrong?

    It would be horrible if people, now or in the future, ever found out that people (who behaved in such ways) would be associated with them.

    Unless, of course, you think it’s to your advantage to keep it on the record.

    He-he.

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