BYU May Lose ROTC Program Over Moral Code

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Brigham Young University’s newest ROTC instructor, US Air Force Col Timothy “Raptor” Hogan, objected to BYU’s required moral code — which is required for him to be recognized as a faculty member, and which BYU refused to waive:

BYU is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Students and faculty are required to adhere to prohibitions against alcohol, drugs, coffee, premarital sex and other activities contrary to the beliefs of the faith. The U.S. military assigns instructors to ROTC programs…

“I told the (university) president in an interview that I would happily abide by the Honor Code on campus, in uniform and on duty, but if I wanted to have a cup of coffee at my house, they said, ‘No, that’s not acceptable,'” [said] Hogan.

It’s an interesting situation. Col Hogan — an A-10 pilot and USAFA ’89 graduate — certainly knew about the issue before he arrived, and it’s a volunteer (in fact, a selected) assignment. It’s not as if he’s being forced by the military to sign BYU’s code.  It’s also noteworthy that it is a code of conduct, not a religious code:

  • Be honest
  • Live a chaste and virtuous life
  • Obey the law and all campus policies
  • Use clean language
  • Respect others
  • Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
  • Participate regularly in church services
  • Observe Dress and Grooming Standards
  • Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code

BYU requires all faculty and students to abide by the code — with the exception of church services for non-Mormons.

It’s also notable that BYU has had ROTC for decades — the Air Force program began in 1951, only 4 years after the Air Force became a separate service — and it hasn’t had a problem up to now, it seems. Either some previous ROTC instructors have been less principled than Hogan and pencil-whipped the code, or every single AFROTC Detachment member has been Mormon (or at least willing to adhere to Mormon lifestyle choices). Importantly, there are nine Airmen currently leading the AFROTC detachment at BYU — and none of them had these objections?

Ultimately, the situation isn’t substantially different than that which occurred at Wheaton in 2014. Both sides — the government and the school — are completely free to choose how to support ROTC at BYU, or even if to do so at all. For now, it seems they’re exploring options to move the AFROTC program to Utah Valley University down the road, with whom BYU already shares the program.

Repeated at the Stars and Stripes.



  • That should read Utah Valley University, not University of Utah. UofU is located in Salt Lake and has their own detachment.

    Regarding the article, I am an active Mormon and the strict enforcement of the “Honor Code” was a big part of why I decided to attend Utah State University in Logan, and not BYU. I live all those rules by choice, not because my school/employer tells me to. (Just my $.02)

    • @Nate
      You are correct about UVU — UofU was mentioned in the Tribune article in a different context. The article has been corrected.

      The great part about your experience is you were free to make a choice, and you chose a place based on your preferences. It seems a lot of society today thinks the institutions/organizations should bend to their desires, rather than choosing an institution/organization that, as presented, fits their desires.