A reader writes:
I recently graduated from BYU, and the beard rule is definitely the strangest part of the Honor Code. Ever since the Davies incident, I've been waiting for the media to find the Beard Clause. The irony of Jesus and Brigham having beards has not been lost on the student body. There's a giant beardless statue of Brigham in front of the administration building - he was beardless when young, but the majority of his adult life was heavily bearded, making many wonder why a statue of him without a beard would be chosen.
There is, however, a bearded statue of Karl G. Maeser, one of the school's early advocates. (I often joked that I was going to take a grinder to his beard to make him Honor Code compliant.) To enhance the irony, there is a famous quote by Maeser about integrity that is frequently used on posters reminding students to keep the Honor Code (yes, there are such posters everywhere).
The overwhelming majority of students obey the heavy parts of the Honor Code - premarital sex, alcohol, etc. Since those issues are specifically linked to actual LDS Church doctrines, this is no surprise (and, believe it or not, most students find it easy to keep those rules). But the Beard Clause is the most frequently stretched.
Many male students dislike the rule and many professors hate enforcing it (they are supposed to ask you to shave if you haven't, though most only do so when you're at least a week out, if even then). I complained about it loudly, but I dutifully shaved anyway.
Your other reader is correct that the rule comes from the era of hippies and the Cold War - only commies and hippies have beards! But now, the most important communist countries seem to have a no-beard culture.
The whole thing's pretty funny, but BYU is a great school with a great environment (for people who don't mind the rules, i.e., Mormons). I could go on about the travails of being a non-Romney-supporter at BYU in 2008, but I'll spare you for now.
(Photo by Flickr user Spaz Du Zoo)