BYU Student Withdraws After Arrest

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- An anti-war protester arrested for civil disobedience decided Tuesday to drop out of Brigham Young University over controversy created by the school's honor code.

Caleb Proulx' decision comes at the same time the university opted not to expel or suspend him for his arrest.

Proulx, 22, a photography major, believes his willingness to get arrested is in direct conflict with BYU's honor code, which specifically instructs students to "obey the law and all campus policies."

"I have a commitment to making a difference, and part of that is utilizing civil disobedience when necessary," Proulx said Tuesday. "I also have a commitment to the honor code, but I didn't want to have the conflict of trying to reconcile one with the other."

Proulx was arrested eight days ago for disturbing the peace after he and others blockaded the entrance to the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building in downtown Salt Lake City to protest the war with Iraq.

He was charged with a federal misdemeanor. Proulx went to the Honor Code Office at BYU and turned himself in, writing a statement about his arrest. He said he was not repentant, and could be arrested for similar acts in the future.

"If I feel the government is doing something immoral, I'm willing to break the law in the tradition of nonviolent civil disobedience and I'm willing to accept the consequences," he said. "I would never break the law if it endangered anybody's personal safety."

University spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said violations of the honor code, which also require abstaining from alcohol, smoking and premarital sex, are not punished uniformly. In some cases, violations lead to expulsion or suspension, but more frequently a warning.

"The university's intent was to have Caleb remain at the university and continue to work with the Honor Code Office," she said.

Proulx said he supports the university and its need for an honor code. He doesn't want to embarrass the institution over its decision not to expel or suspend him.

"Whatever decision they made, they would get criticized from somebody," he said. "I felt if there were negative consequences I wanted to take them. I didn't want to see them go through some bad publicity or criticism."

Proulx' commitment to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns BYU, is unshaken. He hopes to go on a proselytizing mission with the Mormon church in the near future. When he returns from those two years abroad, he will consider going back to college, maybe outside Utah.

Proulx laments that he will no longer be in the position to make the war a discussion topic at BYU.

Partly in response to Proulx' efforts to have a campus war debate, the university decided to hold its own forum, he said.

"What I felt was that their motivation was at least partly to control the tenor of the discussion," he said, noting that two key topics, including the advisability of going to war, were omitted from the discussion. "I did feel somewhat sidelined on campus because of that."

Proulx said he'll keep up his activism both in Provo and Salt Lake City, and try to save some money to fund his Mormon mission.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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