CNN’s Richard Quest visited BYU where Mitt Romney graduated in 1971 to find out how students viewed the presidential nominee and if they planned to vote for him. That report will be part of a series starting Oct. 29 on CNN called American Quest, but he reported on his campus visit www.edition.cnn.com/2012/10/19
He was struck that BYU was a “world apart” from what he had known as a student with its manicured lawns, flower beds, honor codes, and smiling faces and noted “on the face of it, looked so familiar and yet underneath was a world apart from any school I had seen before.”
What struck him? “Smiling. The woman at the ice cream shop smiled. The guides showing me round the university smiled. The student who handed me Mormon literature smiled. It was hard to imagine any of these clean-cut youths suddenly bursting into a bout of obscenities as they stubbed a toe or dropped a plate.”
The honor code. “The code requires them to be, among other things, honest, true, chaste, benevolent and virtuous. There is a reminder on a poster at the bowling alley, which announced we follow the honor code’ and asked visitors to uphold standards of grooming and dress. When I suggested there was plenty of time in the future to uphold grooming and dress, and that surely student years were designed for rebellion, my host gave a we know what’s coming next’ tolerant look and, ever so politely, explained there were plenty of other schools for that, and this was a Mormon school for those who wanted to live the Mormon way of life.”
Quest had imagined that, “At BYU there is a lot of hand holding (between men and women only), with chaste kisses and long looks. I know that Mormon beliefs forbid pre-marital sex, but somehow I imagined that meant no relationships, and by extension, no physical contact. By now I was realizing I was the victim of my own preconceptions and prejudices about this faith and its worshippers.”
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