The Shackles of BYU

At the moment, one of the goals in my life is to get into the University of Washington. This has been somewhat of a life-long dream of mine – ever since I was a kid, I felt a tug towards UW instead of BYU. I chose to go to BYU anyway, and though there were…struggles, I guess I came out a better, more wise, more experienced, more compassionate person, and I ended up finding my True Love down there so all’s well that end’s well.

Though I still hold a little bit of angst towards BYU, I actually really admire BYU-I. According to my friends, their student government actually has teeth. They have instituted a program that requires every student to get a laptop and all textbooks are now electronic. Yeah, their rules are kind of harsh (no shorts, no flip flops, that kind of thing), but everybody there just seems so…happy. I have never met anyone who has come out of BYU-I with a bad experience. I came home my first first summer at BYU and my BYU-I friends would only gush about how much fun they had up there in the frozen tundras of Rexburg. I wondered what they were doing there that was so right – BYU left me frazzled and exhausted. My dad is Rick’s College alumni and when he heard about my troubles at BYU he wanted me to transfer to BYU-I. I didn’t, and I’m kinda glad because I met my wife later, but after I got married, I considered transfering up there at one point. I’m actually pretty sure I would have probably done pretty well.

So yeah. I actually like BYU-I. A lot. Whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it pretty well.

Which is why I cry for BYU-I. What an unfortunate name. Brigham Young University – Idaho? Really?

The problem is that damnable suffix. Why did you have to rename it after the original Brigham Young University and then suffix it? Why did BYU-I become a satellite school?

We have a satellite school here. It’s called the University of Washington – Bothell. I live close to Bothell. I once mentioned to my mother that I thought maybe I should apply there. She laughed. A lot. Because it’s a satellite school. If people see BYU or UW on your resume, they think, “Oh, nice.” When they see BYU-Idaho or UW-Bothell, they think, “What, they didn’t get into the real school?”

Which is a shame because BYU-I is a real school. It’s a pretty decent school. It’s not the same stature yet as BYU, but give it a time and I have a feeling that someday, they’ll surpass it for a lot of reasons that I won’t go into yet.

We have plenty of prophets, guys. Couldn’t we have renamed it something else? Named it after another prophet or another dead famous person that happened to be Mormon? It started out at Ricks College. Why not Ricks University?  Why not Joseph Smith University, or Hyrum Smith University, or Pratt University or I dunno, something besides a name that is already taken? I’m not sure what was going on in the meeting when they decided on the name, but I can’t help but wonder if some greedy BYU representative saw it as a power grab, to make sure that no other Mormon school would ever rise to challenge their supremacy in the Western Inter-Mountain Region.

I just hope they throw off the shackles of BYU soon. Otherwise, they’ll never really be taken seriously. And that makes me really sad for some reason.



Filed under education, religion

8 responses to “The Shackles of BYU

  1. I remember feeling exactly this way when they announced the change. I was a student at BYU when Ricks made the switch to BYU-I. The whole Provo campus hated it. Part of it was snobbery, as we didn’t want to be affiliated with “the kids too dumb to get into the REAL BYU.” We also wondered why it was necessary to franchise the university. Unlike state schools, there’s just no purpose. Forcing BYU-Hawaii and BYU-Idaho to live under the shadow of “The Real BYU” is very unfair, and it hurts sport, academics, and school pride. Not that there’s much school pride at BYU anyway, seeing as Mormons treat BYU as a sub-brand of LDS.

    These campuses would have been much better off if they had been able to forge their own identities. BYU-I should have remained Ricks College, or upgraded to Ricks University if they wanted to sound more prestigious. BYU-Hawaii should have been called Joseph F. Smith University; it makes more sense as Smith had a very personal connection to Hawaii.

    • Ted

      I also agree that BYU-Hawaii should be renamed Joseph F. Smith University. It would be apropos.

      Yeah, the thing is that the BYU kids seemed miffed, and I can’t imagine that the BYU-Idaho kids are happy about always being considered a BYU satellite school. It’s like a lose-lose situation.

  2. E-rock

    I had never thought of renaming BYU-I, but I think you’re on to something. The trick is to come up with a prestigious name that still indicates that its a church school. I like Ricks University (or University of Ricks). But then again we could just name it Clark College after the current President. (or Bednar’s Bunk?)
    Its true there is a cultural difference between the BYU’s. Maybe it was lower standards on the Idaho-ites part (I was glad to get in myself, winter/summer track notwithstanding). Or maybe its has something to do with the barren isolation of east Idaho in the winter that make people draw together, for warmth, if nothing else.

  3. “I have never met anyone who has come out of BYU-I with a bad experience.”

    You have not met enough people. I could introduce you to my sister, Carly.

  4. justjillsblog

    BYU is a more prestigious school because it is harder to get into and has better programs. Better FHEs or clubs or BFFs do not equate to a better education. You were more exhausted than your friends at BYU-I because you were in a harder school, plain and simple.

  5. E-rock

    Au contraire, Jillmeister! Education is made up of the entire college experience: classes, ultimate frisbee games, hot dates, FHE’s, BFF’s, LOL’s and all!

  6. Ted

    @Jamie – I’ll fully admit that I have not met enough people. From my very limited, subjective experience, however, BYU-I kids seem to have an easier time transitioning into a more happy, fulfilling college experience than BYU kids.

    @justjillsblog – I would heartily agree that BYU at the present moment is a very prestigious school, but considering that BYU-I only became a four year university less than a decade ago, I wouldn’t really expect it to catch up so quickly. I look at BYU-I in a more long-term way. I see a lot of potential in its future, but saddling it so early on with a “sattelite school” name simply hamstrings it before it can even take off running. I suppose that had BYU-I possess the same prestige and difficulty as BYU, I would still be exhausted and frazzled, but at the same time, BYU-I seems to hold various cultural and organizational markers that shows it possesses the ability to someday provide the same academic rigor with a different college experience, for those who may not fit in as well in BYU proper.

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