Culture Shock: BYU

March 31, 2006 | 72 comments
By

Imagine an LDS woman, 18 years old, who has lived her entire life far from the centers of Mormonism. Next fall, she plans to attend BYU. What will she experience?

I suspect that some aspects of BYU will shock her, though not in the same way that BYU shocked me as a non-member. Indeed, I expect that her experience will be quite different from mine. While I went to BYU as a religious minority, this young woman will find herself part of the majority religion for the first time. Will that create any special challenges for someone whose self-image seems to be strongly tied to her status as a religious minority?

The larger issue, I suppose, relates to the similarity of those who experience Mormonism as a majority religion to those of us who experience Mormonism primarily as a minority religion. Framing the discussion in that way might be more fruitful because it can avoid some of the peculiarities of BYU within the majority culture.

Then again, I am less interested in the abstract question because that young woman is my daughter.

Tags: , ,

72 Responses to Culture Shock: BYU

  1. queuno on March 31, 2006 at 1:07 am

    I think the whole premise of “center of Mormonism” is flawed, but I think you nicely recover with your observation that it’s a difference between “majority religion” and “minority religion”.

    We were in SLC a couple of weeks ago (now living in TGSOT). I was shocked (shcoked!) at how “backward” the ward in SLC seemed to me, compared to my ward. Maybe 1/3 of the active elders. Maybe 1/2 of the congregants in sacrament meeting.

    I arrived at BYU 18 years ago from the midwest but with a lifetime of extended family history in Utah. I remember thinking, “Who are these people? What is this strange religion they practice, that I grew up with?” BYU serves as an aggregator for all the “mainstream” traits of “mainstream” Mormonism, and it tends to get warped there.

  2. Kimball Hunt on March 31, 2006 at 2:39 am

    A vignette I feel quite honored to have witness at my little sister’s “BYU students apartments'” pool in the early 80s. You see, there’s a young woman there who’s sunning herself in what I’ll admit is really a stunning one-piece that only too clearly lacks any extra layer basted into its bodice and next to her sits a young man to whom she’s talking and whose eighties-style nylon swimsuit um likewise only too apparently reveals how much he’s attracted to her: What they’re talking about is the awful immodesty of the forbidden two-piece bathing suits.

    I just love it!; yet, still, despite — even because of such games I’ll admit BYU provides a very real and wonderful shelter from (if you will) even more full-scale of “iniquities of this world.”

  3. Sarah on March 31, 2006 at 2:52 am

    The girls who’ve moved to BYU from our ward (we’ve got three who went this year) seemed most surprised at the different attitudes towards things like the rules (the usual “active faithful” types who are disobedient throughout the week; restaraunts that are clearly full of members on Sundays, when out here you at least, you know, drive outside of your ward boundaries first) and towards general authorities and the Church leadership (one of our YSAs spent a year at BYU-Idaho and can’t get over the fact that a member of the Quorum of the 12 “stepped in” on her Sunday School class one week.) It’s also a chance to realize that some of the things that they think of as being “LDS” ways of doing things, are just ways that our ward or our stake does those things.

    Also, there are a lot of things that define the LDS experience in the West that don’t exist out here… traditions and things that we’re not familiar with. One of the things that baffled me when I was in California was all of the “extra” stuff the youth did, in terms of formal activities. Our YW budget, in my tiny rural Ohio branch, was something like $250; when I visited a Southern California ward over the summer, they were holding YW events at Disneyland and at water parks and whatnot. But my current ward is more of a mishmash than the branch was; we’ve got a much larger and wealthier congregation, and a lot of Utah move-ins. I’ve finally been able to see a Jell-O casserole in person.

    I also find the hugeness and niceness of Church properties in the West very bizarre, as we’re on the economy/”Mission Field” plan out here, but I don’t know how obvious that would be to the girls from our ward, as it’s in one of the nicest and newest buildings in our area. Having BYU programming on TV would be weird, too. Seeing tons and tons of missionaries and returned missionaries (here it’s somewhat exotic; our RMs are always running off to BYU, so while they’re here everyone’s always quizzing them on their experiences and generally making a fuss.)

    And I imagine that praying before classes would take a bit of getting used to. I hear they do that at BYU, right? I went to a secular, Big 10 university, so I’m mostly speculating based on reports from our YW/YSAs, and what my sister said after she got back from her recent visit to Utah. For what it’s worth, the thing that we were most excited about was the idea of going into the Church Distribution Center and being able to just pick out what you want, instead of having to do it through the website or telephone. To actually have a serious source of Church materials… and then she went to the BYU bookstore. They actually had the Russian hymnal right there, on a shelf, to buy right then. That was my only Utah purchase request, actually. I didn’t want to spend $.25 on the special Russian language materials list just to find out what the order number was, and then order it. She bought herself the triple combination in German. Again, right on a shelf! It’s almost exactly like how I feel when I see slot machines in the airport and gas stations and diners in Las Vegas, or celebrities doing their grocery shopping in Los Angeles: wow, it’s like a different country!

  4. Eric Russell on March 31, 2006 at 4:10 am

    Sacrament meeting in the testing center.

  5. Reese on March 31, 2006 at 5:47 am

    Going to BYU was actually kind of heartbreaking for me. I managed to come through it relatively unscathed, married in the temple and am still devout, but I could so, so easily understand how BYU could cost someone their testimony.

    I think the main reason for that is the huge discrepancy between the perfection we’re all striving for and the reality of how we all live. Growing up “in the mission field” I went to BYU to be with my people. In fact, I didn’t even apply anywhere else because I wanted to go to college on grounds dedicated to the Lord.

    And when I got there, not only do I see my people making all the same mistakes I make, but proudly drinking and doing drugs and having sex and then lying to the bishop for honor code evaluation.

    The real heartbreaker was not wayward peers, (who hasn’t experienced a few of those by the time they’re in their 20’s?) but some behavior of some of the teachers and leaders there. Including an incident or two with Merril J. Bateman, president at the time, who is still not only a 70, but a president of the 70’s, that to this day make me take a deep breath and say a prayer as I sustain him every 6 months.

    I would sincerely recommend reading The Broken Heart by Elder Bruce C. Hafen. It discusses that discrepency and how to deal with it. If you grow up nearly worshipping the GA’s, it can be a tremendous blow to find out they’re regular people who take on a divine responsibility.

  6. sm on March 31, 2006 at 8:18 am

    we’re actually in process of moving to SLC from the East Coast where we’ve lived for about 15 years. When we made our rapid home-buying trip, we had too many impressions to know what to do with them. Some were traditional and stereotypical (angry academics, neoconservative Mormons, the name-dropping of GAs–one former stake officer was teaching Sunday school and in the 15 minutes I was present in his class he managed to mention 8 distinct GA sightings that were at best tangential to his topic and at worst completely non sequitur), others were refreshing and exciting (a beautiful old independent bookstore in Sugar House, a group of outstanding scientists at the University of Utah–and they weren’t involved in cold fusion–the headquarters for Mormons for Equality and Social Justice, a clearly patriarchal church bureaucrat struggling sincerely to use more inclusive language).

    the hardest image for me was of sacrament meeting. Our ward here meets in an old boiler factory, and our chapel is the actual construction floor. The open ceiling allows you to gaze up into industrial winches and fans squatting atop ceiling joists, while bolts of light strike the machinery through the upper windows. We are a strange bunch, mostly engineering graduate students, the occasional corporate law student, and an assortment of urban dwellers of various extractions. We tend to speak our minds and our hearts, and it’s been a very long time since 30 seconds elapsed in silence during a Fast meeting.

    We visited an SLC ward on Fast day. It was a traditional building with all the standard accoutrements. The pews were filled to overflowing with a wide variety of families, from young to old. And the meeting largely consisted of waiting for another grandparent to seize the microphone with trembling hands and testify to the glory of a life well-lived in the Gospel fold. We finally got so itchy that we left: it was not, after all, our ward.

    As we discussed it, we realized that to a certain extent identity (at least for the twitchy young) is informed by resistance or distinction. Here on the East Coast, our religious identity is minority, distinctive, and independent. We often reflect on it, and we often discuss it with those without our faith community, precisely because it is distinctive. As a result, we are extremely involved in the life of other ward-members.

    We suspect, though we don’t want to hex ourselves, that our community in SLC will be extramural, that church will rapidly fade into the background, while our liberal Eastern ideals will become much more prominent, as we move from an area where Bush is seen as an absurd and evil joke to one where he was eagerly elected and praised.

    I think the trick is to have an independent association with God that will allow you to navigate the changing seasons, locations, and minority cultures.

  7. Lamonte on March 31, 2006 at 9:00 am

    Gordon – having grown up in a tiny Mormon community in Southeastern Idaho, and living the first 11 years of my professional life in the Salt Lake Valley, I was more than pleased at the opportunity to move my family (wife and 4 sons) to the east coast 18 years ago. I think my initial excitement had do to with job opportunities but in the meantime I have found that I live my religion more fully mainly because I have embraced it more fully since finding myself in a minority status. Several years ago a young missionary was serving in our ward here in Northern Virginia and he told me that his mother had grown up in upstate New York. He further explained that she had experienced some turbulant times while attending BYU. While there she served as president of the BYU chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW.) I was initially surprised that there was a BYU chapter of NOW and was interested in his explanation of her somewhat left leaning political attitudes. I asked him why she decided to attend BYU if she had political opinions that seemed to conflict with the general attitudes in Utah and at BYU. He explained that she had spent her entire life (18 years at that point) as a minority in her religious beliefs and simply wanted to experience a culture where her religion was a majority.

    It seems that it works both ways. I have enjoyed the diversity of thought that exists here in my community and yet some might be looking for more concensus – speaking strictly of temporal issues. While many of my fellow ward members consider me to be liberal when compared to their political beliefs, the facts are that we agree on far more issues than the ones we dispute. And I certainly share their convictions to the tenets of our faith. So while I enjoy some isolation and some minority status, I am glad that I have a solid Mormon community to hold on to.

    Hopefully your daughter will experience all the goods things about living amongst the saints and her pre-BYU experience in living as a minority will offer her some tolerence when those among her display bad behavior.

  8. Coffinberry on March 31, 2006 at 9:53 am

    I may not be the most representative sample, but I do qualify in having gone from a small branch (Iowa, and before that, rural Tennessee) and small high school (grad. class 53 in Iowa, would have been 10 in TN) to BYU.

    For me, it was utterly, blissfully, wonderful. I remember my first devotional in the Marriott Center, looking at the sea of faces as we sung the opening hymn, in complete awe, my mind boggling to realize for the first time how very truly vast and marvelous the council in heaven must have been, and what it really meant to shout for joy.

    I loved my 4 years at BYU. Loved the dorms. Loved the hall prayers, the Sunday evening firesides (followed by the green-topped brownies). Loved going to church in the MARB, with the periodic table on the wall a concrete reminder that the light of Christ is in all things and through all things. I loved sitting up late and talking about life, the universe, and everything (to steal a phrase). It was what I needed then, and to this day, when I visit that campus, it still feels like a holy place, a literal temple of learning.

    That said, I also love my current school, where as a latter-day-saint I am in a distinct minority. I think that BYU prepared me really really well for the world (next stop after BYU was Los Angeles), and gave me a valuable mental, emotional, and spiritual foundation.

    Good luck to this young lady!

  9. Gordon Smith on March 31, 2006 at 10:42 am

    Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful responses. Many of the sentiments here resonate with my own experiences and imaginings.

    This comment by sm was particularly on the mark: “we realized that to a certain extent identity (at least for the twitchy young) is informed by resistance or distinction.” When I was at BYU, I met many students who felt that it was easier for them to live the Gospel (not just “keep the commandments” in a narrow sense, but more fully live the Gospel) outside of BYU. I didn’t understand that idea at the time, but I think I understand it now.

    I do not mean to imply that those of us who live in minority areas are superior at living the Gospel, just that one’s strategies for living the Gospel are shaped by being a minority. When that status is removed, it seems like a need a new set of strategies might be required to feel the same level of engagement with the Gospel.

    To put this another way, I think my daughter feels like a Mormon all the time because her Mormon-ness is such an obvious and pervasive source of difference between her and many of her peers. Once she is surrounded by Mormons, won’t that sense of feeling like a Mormon be more difficult to capture?

  10. Lamonte on March 31, 2006 at 11:01 am

    “Once she is surrounded by Mormons, won’t that sense of feeling like a Mormon be more difficult to capture?”

    It might be but it is just as likely that your daughter is old enough and mauture enough to hold fast to the Gospel principles she has learned and incorporated in her life to date. Rather than becoming slothful in her maintainence

  11. Lamonte on March 31, 2006 at 11:03 am

    “Once she is surrounded by Mormons, won’t that sense of feeling like a Mormon be more difficult to capture?”

    It might be but it is just as likely that your daughter is old enough and mauture enough to hold fast to the Gospel principles she has learned and incorporated in her life to date. Rather than becoming slothful in her maintenence of those principles she might be even more committed. After all she did decide to attend to BYU rather than choosing a school with less with a lesser religious atmosphere. Hope for the best and pray often!

  12. Gina on March 31, 2006 at 11:14 am

    My experience in arriving at BYU as a 17 year old girl from Virginia as a convert of less than one year was absolute wonder. That first year was completely magic for me. I absolutely drank in the gospel, and was strengthened more than I can say by the many, many faithful sincere people I met. Seeing so many people taking the gospel seriously did more for me than I can express. My experience with my LDS peers at home as a minority religion, in contrast to lots of other commenters, was sketchy at best. BYU was the first time I really saw people my age taking gospel standards seriously. Of course there was weird culture shock, like when homecoming was approaching and everyone started leaving complex riddles inside pumpkins or helium baloons outside dorm rooms to ask people out, and I got an honor code violation right off because it honestly didn’t occur to me that high slits in skirts would be immodest, but overall it was wonderful. Contrary to what seems to be many other people’s experiences, BYU was neither a den of debauchery nor hypocricy to me, rather an amazing, faith promoting and faith solidifying experience.

  13. Klear on March 31, 2006 at 11:44 am

    Does anybody know the ratio between in state students and out of state students that attend BYU? It seems like more students from out of state attend BYU. If this is the case, wouldn’t the culture at BYU be more indicative of the mormon culture trends outside of Utah? I could be way off on this but it just seems like most people I’ve met that have gone to BYU were from California, midwest areas, and the east.

  14. Nate Oman on March 31, 2006 at 11:52 am

    I always feel sad that I missed out on the debauchery at BYU. I always heard about it, and I assidiously searched for it, but I fear that everyone always put away the drug and alchohol soaked orgies when I got in the room.

    I assume that this is just because there was something about me that my would-be fellow libertines didn’t like.

  15. Lisa F. on March 31, 2006 at 11:59 am

    What about those candlelight events where someone announced her engagement? There was a term for it, but it’s been too long. It was a bit odd — sit around in a circle, pass around a lit candle that has an engagement ring on it, and the woman that it belongs to blows out the candle…and everyone squeals.

  16. Starfoxy on March 31, 2006 at 12:32 pm

    Lisa F. There was an apartment of boys at my university (in AZ) that had a thing of canned meat that lived on top of their frigde, and whenever someone officially started dating someone then they’d eat the meat and the new boyfriend had to buy a new can of meat. But that’s a little different than candles and squeals.

  17. queuno on March 31, 2006 at 12:37 pm

    Re #13/14 – That was an aspect of BYU I hated — the lame, old-time traditions.

    I didn’t want to attend my mother’s 1960s BYU — I wanted to attend an 1980s/1990s BYU with a 1980s/1990s Mormon sensibility that didn’t revolve around how many generations your family had lived in Utah.

    I found that BYU got more sensible once I moved off-campus.

  18. danithew on March 31, 2006 at 1:25 pm

    There were so many things I enjoyed at BYU. And yet I was glad to leave when I did.

  19. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 31, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    I grew up as one of the majority and still found myself in the minority in a way…called “goody-goody” by my LDS peers. It wasn’t until high school and then BYU when I found friends who shared my passion for the gospel. I think, in the end, whether one is part of a minority or majority matters less as does one’s individual testimony. Either way, one still needs to be strong and devout and dedicated, because, either way, there will be voices and other forces that want to lull one away. The difference is, as one of the majority, those opposing forces usually come from within. I would argue that, in some ways, that kind of opposition is even more difficult to deal with.

    As for BYU, I had a wonderful experience for many, many reasons. There is much to be enjoyed in having religion be part of the school experience. My testimony grew by leaps and bounds that first year, and I loved being able to sit with friends and just talk about gospel topics. I actually cannot think of negative, testimony-testing experiences at all. I loved it there and hope your daughter will, too.

  20. rd on March 31, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    I grew up in SL, have two devout Mormon, U of U grad, BYU hating parents, and attended BYU against their wishes and against what I thought to be my better judgment. (Darn answers to prayer).

    The personifications of common stereotypes exist, but BYU can be an absolutely invigorating place. There is much to enjoy there thay may not exist elsewhere–devotionals, etc. If she’s into it, the honors program provides some interesting pursuits and small classes. I particularly enjoyed my six person seminar on the history of medicine (got me out of the polisci humdrum). The risk one takes living in “BYU approved housing” gave me all the thrill of living on the edge that I longed for in college. And the weather. Oh, the weather.

    Living well outside of Utah now, I can say that I would cherish the day one of my children found a BYU acceptance letter in the mail. I wouldn’t have said that before I went there, or maybe even while I was there.

    Alas, my children are plagued with their father’s genes and BYU will be quite a far reach.

    Good luck to your daughter.

  21. Dave on March 31, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    #11, #12, #13, #18 I completely relate with what you are saying. I came to Utah from Arizona and though I had been told how self-righteous everyone in Utah was, that was not what I experienced. I made friends that literally saved me by their good influences.

  22. Hans on March 31, 2006 at 2:19 pm

    “What about those candlelight events where someone announced her engagement? There was a term for it, but it’s been too long. It was a bit odd — sit around in a circle, pass around a lit candle that has an engagement ring on it, and the woman that it belongs to blows out the candle…and everyone squeals.”

    It was called “candle passing”. I was there at BYU in the late 1960s-early 1970s.

    I found the place very depressing; too much “thought-control” and regimentation, kind of like the “Hitler Youth”. The only good thing was that I met my wife there. After we married I transferred to the University of Utah, which was like a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately two of my three kids went to BYU (Hawaii and Idaho).

  23. john f. on March 31, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    Gina wrote Contrary to what seems to be many other people’s experiences, BYU was neither a den of debauchery nor hypocricy to me, rather an amazing, faith promoting and faith solidifying experience.

    Thank you Gina. My thoughts exactly.

    It also wasn’t a totalitarian dictatorship grinding upon the face of the free-thinking and/or poor either.

  24. john f. on March 31, 2006 at 2:54 pm

    GS wrote To put this another way, I think my daughter feels like a Mormon all the time because her Mormon-ness is such an obvious and pervasive source of difference between her and many of her peers. Once she is surrounded by Mormons, won’t that sense of feeling like a Mormon be more difficult to capture?

    I don’t think so. In fact, I’m having a hard time following you here. I grew up with “minority status” as a Latter-day Saint in Dallas. Going to BYU was fantastic. Suddenly to be surrounded by people who shared my same faith and beliefs was indescribable.

    But I would have been happy at any other university as well, I am sure.

  25. john f. on March 31, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    sm wrote We visited an SLC ward on Fast day. It was a traditional building with all the standard accoutrements. The pews were filled to overflowing with a wide variety of families, from young to old. And the meeting largely consisted of waiting for another grandparent to seize the microphone with trembling hands and testify to the glory of a life well-lived in the Gospel fold.

    It sounds wonderful — where do you sign me up? (writes someone who attends an East Bench ward.)

  26. Kevin Barney on March 31, 2006 at 3:06 pm

    I grew up in Illinois. My freshman year at BYU was the best year of my life. I used to love the annual youth conferences, and the exposure to a critical mass of young people who believed as I did in that setting was intoxicating. And I reasoned that BYU would be like youth conference, only longer. And it was. It was like a 9-month youth conference. I loved it.

    When I left after graduation, I was glad to see Provo in my rearview mirror, mostly due to some of the academic politics there involving religious education. But I go back whenever I can, and I continue to be a big fan of the place.

    Your daughter will have a blast!

  27. john f. on March 31, 2006 at 3:09 pm

    sm wrote We suspect, though we don’t want to hex ourselves, that our community in SLC will be extramural, that church will rapidly fade into the background, while our liberal Eastern ideals will become much more prominent, as we move from an area where Bush is seen as an absurd and evil joke to one where he was eagerly elected and praised.

    Wow, you really don’t know SLC if you’re looking in Sugarhouse or surrounding area and think this.

  28. Gordon Smith on March 31, 2006 at 3:14 pm

    My experience at BYU was much like Gina’s, and I hope my daughter will have a great experience. She seems well matched to BYU. Indeed, BYU was the only school to which she applied.

    On the other hand, her impressions of BYU are largely formed by my stories (her mother graduated from the U of U), and she is going to BYU under much different circumstances than I did as a non-member. As she has prepared for this transition, it occurred to me that the change in context might come as something of a shock to her. When you exclaim, “Suddenly to be surrounded by people who shared my same faith and beliefs was indescribable,” it reminds me of her excitement for EFY, and that’s exactly the sort of reaction I hope she has next fall.

  29. john f. on March 31, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    sm wrote We often reflect on [our faith], and we often discuss it with those without our faith community, precisely because it is distinctive. As a result, we are extremely involved in the life of other ward-members.

    A warning then: in an odd irony, the one place you are completely silenced about your faith is in SLC (that is, if you want to have any friends among your neighbors). You shouldn’t think that walls are going to be crawling with Mormons if you move to Sugarhouse or the surrounding area. There are only four members on my block — and there are a lot more houses than that on my block. But your neighbors will all know you are a member, even if you never say anything to them about the Church or even hint at proselytizing them. Be ready for some harsh pre-judgments about you, your family, and your basic intelligence. Once you begin Bush-bashing, though, everything should be okay.

  30. Gordon Smith on March 31, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    Kevin, I didn’t see your comment before posting that last one, but you are describing my daughter exactly. She loves EFY and Youth Conference, and I suspect that BYU will feel like an extended version of those activities.

  31. john f. on March 31, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    Reese wrote If you grow up nearly worshipping the GA’s, it can be a tremendous blow to find out they’re regular people who take on a divine responsibility.

    I would hope that noone is doing that. Shame on all you parents who are teaching your kids this so that they find BYU, of all places, to be a challenge to their testimony.

  32. Andrew on March 31, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    I grew up in Orem Utah and everyone I knew was mormon. I loved that it was considered cool to be involved in seminary. I remember talking to my math teacher about my plans to serve a mission. I loved it. I also went to BYU after my mission and considered it to be one of the best experiences of my life. Now I am in medical school in Ohio and I am living for the first time in my life among non-mormons, which is an experience that I have also really loved.

    I have heard different gripes about BYU growing up but I have to say that was not my experience there. I loved that you could practice your religion and socialize with people at the same time. Although I love being a student in Ohio, I often feel that it would be difficult to go to school here as an unmarried student because although I have made many freinds it would be hard to socialize with them at bars, etc. I loved having religion not be an issue socially at BYU. No one judged someone or excluded someone because of religion because everyone was mormon. Now I feel it is more difficult to make closer freinds because of the religion barrier. So I for one would absolutely love sending my children to BYU or BYU idaho to school even if we lived outside of Utah in the future. I realize that others might have had different experiences but I guess the truth is in the eye of the beholder.

  33. Edje on March 31, 2006 at 4:22 pm

    Having written my comment without checking back recently, I merely reiterate what several others have said (but I wish to avoid throwing it away, so you’re going to see it all the same).

    (8): “When I was at BYU, I met many students who felt that it was easier for them to live the Gospel (not just “keep the commandments” in a narrow sense, but more fully live the Gospel) outside of BYU.

    My BYU experience was exactly the opposite. [Disclosure: this might have had more to do with my age and non-studenthood–I worked in Provo for a year when I was 25; I lived in BYU-approved housing, attended a student ward, and went on campus several times per week (to HBL Library).]

    BYU/Provo denied me my entrenched social identity, which I had conflated to a degree with my covenant identity. In Texas as an undergraduate I was Edje the Mormon–he of the tie who does not imbibe, indulge, or inhale, etc. I felt I paid a substantial social cost to just “keep the commandments”; this tended to make my consecration minimalistic–I spent my energy on courage to avoid and resist simple evils. In Provo the social cost was removed and that energy was thus freed for confronting my deeper, more personal evils and for “more fully liv[ing] the gospel.”

    BYU was also quite liberating socially. I made friends (and was forced to do so) based on shared interests rather than on whether we were of the few devout (of various faiths) at my undergraduate institution who didn’t spend our leisure minutes in (mostly tragicomic) pursuit of drunken or erotic stupors. Since the core values were the same at BYU I was no longer held down by–but also couldn’t hide behind–the avoidance of chemicals and sex.

    I enjoyed my year in Provo very much and feel like I am better for it. I wish your daughter the best.

  34. John David Payne on March 31, 2006 at 4:31 pm

    Re: #12 Klear : “Does anybody know the ratio between in state students and out of state students that attend BYU?”

    When I was there as a student, circa 1998, there was an article in the paper about where the freshmen were from. Utah had the highest percentage, but if memory serves it was a little less than 20%. California was second, followed by Arizona, I think. I’m sure the current statistics are floating around out there somewhere.

  35. obi-wan on March 31, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    you are describing my daughter exactly. She loves EFY and Youth Conference . . .

    Gordon, based on this and previous information you have shared about your daughter, I suspect she is the kind of person I would have hated when I was an undergraduate.

    For that matter, I suspect she is probably the kind of person who still drives me to despair, decades later.

    I think you are doing absolutely the right thing. She is going to have a fabulous time at BYU. Have no worries. I wish her the best.

  36. john f. on March 31, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    ouch. Gordon, your daughter sounds great to me.

  37. Gordon Smith on March 31, 2006 at 6:45 pm

    obi-wan, I can’t think of a better endorsement of my daughter than that comment.

    And thanks, John. You are right on the mark in your assessment.

  38. Anita on March 31, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    Coming from Virginia to BYU a dozen years ago was heaven to me. It was so wonderful to discover that other smart Mormons existed! Not only that, but we could mix our religious and scholarly discussions, and really deepened our faith and scholarship. I had a fabulous experience at BYU, and in the Honors Program there, and even the dorms weren’t too bad :-)
    I do remember thinking that the locals who lived in the dorms were always gone on Sundays to their high school friends’ mission farewells, and that their dating experiences were very different from the eastern social scene.

  39. obi-wan on March 31, 2006 at 6:51 pm

    ouch. Gordon, your daughter sounds great to me.

    Exactly my point. Gordon’s daughter is going where she can meet lots of people like you, and fewer people like me, which is why I think she will fit right in and have a great time.

    I had a rotten experience at BYU precisely because it seemed to me to be essentially a four-year EFY camp. Gordon’s daughter apparently won’t have that problem, so I take it that she couldn’t have made a better choice. For her. Mazel tov.

  40. obi-wan on March 31, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    ouch. Gordon, your daughter sounds great to me.

    Exactly my point. Gordon’s daughter is going where she will meet more people like you, and fewer people like me, which is why I think she is going to fit right in and have a great time.

    I had a rotten experience at BYU precisely because it seemed to me to be a four-year EFY camp. Gordon’s daughter apparently won’t have that problem, so I take it she couldn’t have made a better choice. For her. Mazel tov.

  41. obi-wan on March 31, 2006 at 6:59 pm

    ouch. Gordon, your daughter sounds great to me.

    Exactly my point. Gordon\’s daughter is going where she will meet more people like you, and fewer people like me, which is why I think she is going to fit right in and have a great time.

    I had a rotten experience at BYU precisely because it seemed to me to be a four-year EFY camp. Gordon\’s daughter apparently won\’t have that problem, so I take it she couldn\’t have made a better choice. For her. Mazel tov.

  42. Capt. Obsidian on March 31, 2006 at 7:01 pm

    My main problem with BYU was that there were too many Mormons there (and I grew up in SLC). Everybody was trying to “out-holy” everyone else, as if admission to the CK was based on a grading curve. Also, the sound of women’s shoes clackity-clacking on the pavement on the way to sacrament meeting in an auditorium classroom drove me absolutely nuts. I only went there 1 year. After my mission I repented and transfered to Utah State (go Aggies!).

  43. MDS on March 31, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    This comes right off the BYU website

    BYU students come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 120 countries. (Subsequent demographic figures represent all daytime students as of fall 2004.) Of the students from the United States, 28 percent were from Utah, 13 percent from California, 5 percent from Washington and 5 percent from Idaho.

    Of the 6% daytime international students, 24 percent are from Asia, 15 percent from Canada, 15 percent from South America, 13 percent from Europe, 12 percent from Central America and Mexico, 8 percent from Eastern Europe and Russia, 7 percent from the Middle East, 3.5 percent from Africa and 2.5 percent from the South Pacific.

    Additionally, 51.7 percent of the students were men and 48.3 percent were women. Of these, 75 percent were single; 32 percent of the men and 17 percent of the women were married.

    Approximately 98 percent of BYU students were members of the Church of Jesus Christ, with the remaining 2 percent representing more than 20 other religions. More than 80 percent of the men and 12 percent of the women had served as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ, with about half serving in non-English-speaking missions.

    Multicultural students comprised 9 percent of the daytime student body at BYU, with 4 percent Asian and Pacific Islanders, 4 percent Hispanic, 0.6 percent American Indian and 0.6 percent black. (Since BYU is restricted from requiring students to provide information about race, these figures are voluntary.)

  44. Pam W. on March 31, 2006 at 7:18 pm

    When I arrived at BYU (after growing up in California and Oregon), I was astonished by:

    1. The Missionary Emporium at the mall. Right there in public!
    2. A mall kiosk selling (tacky) crystal sculptures of the temples.
    3. Students walking across campus talking openly about the prophet.
    4. Professors talking about their missions.

    I loved BYU, though I understand why many people don’t. By the time I received my degree, I was ready to leave. But I made wonderful, lifelong friends who have strengthened me in the gospel. One funny, intelligent and deeply spiritual roommate from Payson dispelled the negative things I’d unfortunately heard about “Utah Mormons.”

    My sister, on the other hand … spent one year at BYU as a nominal church member who wasn’t terribly interested in the gospel. She and her roommate smoked pot that had been mailed to them by the roommate’s boyfriend. How did these two happen to get assigned to the same dorm room?

  45. john f. on March 31, 2006 at 7:30 pm

    I never went to an EFY and we only had one or two ward youth conferences that I can remember in Dallas.

    But I guess if that makes me someone who enjoys a four-year EFY, then so much the better. As if there is something wrong with wholesome education and uplifting social interactions.

  46. obi-wan on March 31, 2006 at 7:44 pm

    But I guess if that makes me someone who enjoys a four-year EFY, then so much the better.

    Chacun à son goût. And caveat emptor, I suppose.

  47. Nate Oman on March 31, 2006 at 7:51 pm

    “I had a rotten experience at BYU precisely because it seemed to me to be a four-year EFY camp.”

    I had a good experience at BYU, but I think that a week of EFY, let along four years, would drive me absolutely crazy. The moral of this story is that it is worthless to generalize on the basis of obi-wan’s experience ;->…

  48. obi-wan on March 31, 2006 at 8:05 pm

    The moral of this story is that it is worthless to generalize on the basis of obi-wan’s experience ;->…

    Okay, I take it back. She will doubtless find herself surrounded at BYU by profoundly intelligent, emotionally mature savants, feel lost and alienated, and have a lousey time. Perhaps he should send her to Bryn Mawr. Save a fortune on razors.

  49. Nate Oman on March 31, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    “Gordon\’s daughter is going where she will meet more people like you, and fewer people like me”

    “Okay, I take it back. She will doubtless find herself surrounded at BYU by profoundly intelligent, emotionally mature savants, feel lost and alienated, and have a lousey time.”

    So let me get this strait: the miserableness of one’s experience at BYU is a mark of intelligence and emotional maturity?

    Look, I think that BYU is a really bad choice for some people, and I think that it is a really good choice for others. However, I suspect that this is mainly a matter of temperment, rather than maturity or intelligence. The notion, however, that one is misery at BYU is evidence of one’s superior intelligence and spirituality — ie a refusal to be satisfied by the fluff of an EFY-esque BYU eduction — strikes me as both wildly self-congratulatory and wildly uncharitable. There is lots and lots of silly fluff at BYU, but there is also much that is of great value.

  50. obi-wan on March 31, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    the miserableness of one’s experience at BYU is a mark of intelligence and emotional maturity?

    I said that based on my experience, I thought Gordon’s daughter was going to fit right in and have a great time. You said we shouldn’t generalize from my experience. So I was just being agreeable.

    strikes me as both wildly self-congratulatory and wildly uncharitable

    Oddly enough, it was BYU’s wildly self-congratulatory and wildly uncharitable atmosphere that reminded me most of a summer youth conference.

    So you’re saying maybe I learned something there after all, hm? Plus the silly fluff, of course.

  51. DKL on March 31, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    It’s difficult to communicate what I don’t like about Utah in general and about BYU in particular. Perhaps this is the most succinct thing to say:

    BYU is the only place I’ve lived where I stopped telling people that I am a Republican (and I am accustomed to living places that are very predominantly Republican). I think that pretty much sums it up, provided that you’re creative enough to generalize to a bunch of other areas that I ostensibly have in common with many BYU students. BYU really is a fairly oppressive place. The only thing that made BYU a workable environment for me was the close friendship that I developed with four other philosophy majors.

    Nate, there are far too many ignorant cranks to justify the claim that disliking BYU makes one more sophisticated or more mature. That said, BYU’s curriculum was almost completely unchallenging (three classes were notable exceptions; Kant, Hegel, and cognitive psychology), and quite poor compared to the curriculum at Wabash College (which is the only educational institution of any type whose curriculum I actually completed in any sense).

  52. Stephen M (Ethesis) on March 31, 2006 at 9:55 pm

    you are describing my daughter exactly. She loves EFY and Youth Conference . . .

    Sounds like mine as well. Neither my wife or I enjoyed BYU as undergraduates as much as we could (which is why I did not go back after my mission), but I enjoyed the law school and we think our daughter will really enjoy it.

    If not, she can always to go UTD (University of Texas, Dallas).

  53. Frank McIntyre on March 31, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    DKL: “That said, BYU’s curriculum was almost completely unchallenging (three classes were notable exceptions; Kant, Hegel, and cognitive psychology)”

    I’ve got a few econ courses for you that can probably scrape past “completely unchallenging” :).

  54. DKL on April 1, 2006 at 12:49 am

    Frank, you’ve got to understand that I can only say that sort of thing from the safe of never having to actually take another undergraduate course again. In short, I regret to say that I am unable to take your classes.

    Even so, I do have some very specefic gripes with BYU that I developed as a student at Wabash by seeing the contrast, and none of them were directly tied to the difficulty of the material. As a philosophy major/humanities minor at BYU, the main things that made it unchallenging were as follows:

    Tests were way too easy; too many multiple choice tests; I dropped a full semester class on Hume because the tests were multiple choiceToo few papers; the econ 101 class (only econ I ever took) at Wabash had multiple long papers required; even Biology 101 at Wabash had 2 10 page papers (in addition to the weekly lab report writups)Professors spent too much time in class going over what was studied outside of class, penalizing hard working students for attending class and making attendance optional.

    Jogging my memory, the classes that I mentioned had very hard tests (Carter’s Kant and Miller’s Cognitive Psych), lots of writing (Faulconer’s Hegel), or accountability for class room discussions that weren’t simply derivative from the assigned work (all three).

    Anyway, you’re a professor that’s removed from my experience at BYU by several years. How do you think that these criticisms stack up?

  55. Kimball Hunt on April 1, 2006 at 2:05 am

    It’s maybe strange for me to post in this string since I never actually matriculated there. (Would a southern Utan Mormon pronounce this “thar”?–or am I making this entirely up?) But you see I’ve still actually got this inborn idealization of the Y as some kind of necessary first step towards a productive and happy life and afterlife as a successful Saint.

    But then I also sort of feel some kind of pity for the “too innocent of ideals”(?) . . . or perhaps as well the “pig-headed self-righteousness” that I sense to be bred there. Which of course would exist just as readily in any environment which were to be likewise infused with such religious orthodoxy, though, I believe.

    But I’m no “self-hating Mormon.” Instead it’s just that–as with anything ya holds dear to yar heart–I want to criticize it myself and sometimes enjoy to hear others like who’ve worked their way out from the inside criticize it; but when outsiders criticize it, just a little part of me cringes and want to defend it.

  56. Jed on April 1, 2006 at 8:20 am

    DKL: “BYU really is a fairly oppressive place.”

    Your oppressiveness is another person’s liberation.

    obi-wan: “BYU’s wildly self-congratulatory and wildly uncharitable atmosphere.”

    How do you figure?

  57. Frank McIntyre on April 1, 2006 at 8:27 am

    I fully agree that multiple choice questions don’t have much place in upper-level classes. And I’ve heard of some of the easiness you speak of. But of course difficulty is going to vary wildly. BYU has almost 30,000 undergrads for goodness sake! Some of them are up to the best we can offer. Others simply don’t have it together at all, or anyway they prefer not to work too hard and can find places on campus to accommodate that desire. I think this variance gets reflected in the majors (some far easier than others) and the classes (ditto). You can get a superb education at BYU or you can get a very mediocre one.

    I mean, I’m quite willing to believe that Wabash had a great liberal arts curriculum. But the campus would have looked quite different if they had been working to accommodate the ability and drive of 30,000 students instead of, what, 2000?

  58. diogenes on April 1, 2006 at 11:06 am

    One bit of culture shock that Gordon may not be so pleased about is the incessant pressure for freshman women to marry — not so much from peers as from BYU bishops. I don’t know if this is some kind of bizarre ecclesiastical policy, or merely informal “bishoping” culture in Provo — I am referring to ongoing, repeated informal comments and formal talks along the lines of “We’ve only had five engagements in the ward so far this year — the rest of you girls [and yes, they said “girls”] need to get busy!”

    Two of the families in my ward have been dealing with this for the past year. One mom just had to keep constantly calling her daughter to assure her that the bishop was full of cr@p and the daughter should ignore him. Independently, our HP group leader’s daughter became sufficiently upset about similar pressure that he finally called the daughter’s BYU bishop and told the Bishop to lay off the marriage schtick, and threatened to make calls up the chain to the Area Presidency and above if necessary if the Bishop didn’t cut it out. These freshmen women are in different BYU wards so it seems like more than coincidence.

    Perhaps Gordon wouldn’t mind his daughter marrying at 18 — I tend to think that it is in general a bad idea. It’s also fairly upsetting for a freshman student to have to deal with 1) a lot of extra pressure about dating and marriage, and 2) confronting the fact that the Bishop whom you would normally want to respect and rely on when out on your own for the first time may be an idiot who is giving you really bad advice.

  59. Gordon Smith on April 1, 2006 at 11:18 am

    diogenes, “Perhaps Gordon wouldn’t mind his daughter marrying at 18 …”

    Gordon would mind, and I have already had this talk with my daughter. But I am (a little bit) surprised to hear your stories. I didn’t attend my freshman ward, since I was not a member at the time, but I really hope that you are wrong about that being part of the bishoping culture, especially at that age.

  60. Carrie Lundell on April 1, 2006 at 11:49 am

    In my freshman BYU ward, I remember the R.S. getting chastized by our bishop for not dating the boys in our ward. It was completey ridiculous and I told him as much. That said, I got married the summer after my freshman year (at 18 but not to a boy in our ward) and I assure you the decision had nothing to do with pressure from a misguided bishop. My parents always taught me to follow the spirit so that’s what I did. Gordon, I am sure you have raised your daughter to do the same and I am sure she will be fine at BYU – able to enjoy the good parts and grow beyond the bad.

  61. Little Hudit on April 2, 2006 at 2:22 am

    Thirty years ago I attended BYU as a fairly new convert of about a year from Canada. While I was not unfamiliar with Mormon ways (I had a number of LDS friends while growing up and had attended church off and on with them for a couple of years), I was certainly not familiar with many aspects of Utah Mormon culture.

    My decision to attend BYU was, in part, to learn how to be a Latter-day Saint, so my attitude was pretty positive to begin withand my experience was a good one for the most part. I met a lot of great people and loved most of my classes. I loved meeting members of the Church from other places. I loved the opportunity to attend Firesides and Devotionals and hear the words of our Church Leaders in person. I dated and became engaged to my husband there, too, which has probably slanted my opinion favorably.

    There were, however, a couple of things that stand out as being a little bit “strange� to me at the time. The one that stands out the most was when, upon leaving a late afternoon class, I looked out the window onto the campus, only to see everyone standing at attention looking up into the sky. My first reaction was that it was the Second Coming and that they were all looking at the Lord ascending from heaven! No one had told me about the custom of standing at attention when the American National Anthem blared from loudspeakers at 5 pm everyday.

    I also remember taking a Book of Mormon class from Cleon Skousen where he got into talking about things like Blood Atonement, Secret Combinations, Conspiracy Theory (aka Rockefellers, etc.) and some other things that I was not aware had anything to do with the gospel, at least not the way it had been taught to me by the missionaries. That was a bit of a surprise.

    One thing that bothered me then and I still can’t get used to when I visit Utah is all the Mormon merchandise that is advertised on billboards, radio stations, etc. Ads for things like “Knee Shorts” and Mormon themed movies and books still send shivers up my spine. I’m not sure why, but I guess it just seems wrong to me to use people’s dedication to the Church as a way to make a bunch of money. Also the crazy radio news recaps of General Conference that sound like football play-by-plays. Just once I’d like to hear them say, “Elder so and so spoke about, well, I’m not sure his talk had a point at all!â€?

    Having said all that, three of our five children have attended BYU and one is at BYUI now and probably transferring to Provo in the fall. They have all loved the church schools, and have had very positive experiences, with one exception that involved someone in the Student Life Department and is too lengthy a story to get into, (he has recently made the news again). Other than that, it’s been a good experience for all of them. I personally think it’s been good for them to experience being a Latter-day Saint minority and majority. It has broadened their perspective and made them realize that even when they are part of a majority of church members, there is still room for diversity of thought.

  62. Dave Bjarnason on April 2, 2006 at 3:12 am

    My freshman year at the Y I had several classes that integrated truly world-class scholarship with a profound faith in the restored Gospel. It was intoxicating. I made some great friends and somehow missed out on the “dark side” people talk about. My biggest brush with the wild side was a rumor circulating throughout Deseret Towers that someone had climbed onto the roof and thrown off a couch.

  63. forresta on April 2, 2006 at 11:29 pm

    I enjoyed my experience at BYU overall. My four major disappointments were 1) the obsession that people had with appearances (both for and against the clean-cut image – the judgement cut both ways, it seemed), 2) the fact that when I graduated and went to graduate school I realized that BYU is not nearly as academically challenging as some other schools, 3) the prominent notion that Republican=good and Democrat=evil (thankfully, a few of my professors bucked that trend), and 4) the commoditization of the Gospel, where the productio and sale of “Mormon Merchandise” bordered on priestcraft. Of course, most of these things I blame on the mingling of culture with the Gospel that I’ve seen in the mountain west generally.

    That said, I had a wonderful time at the Y. I attended after I was married, so I can’t speak from a single freshman’s point of view. The accessibility of materials and devotionals was incredible, and I soaked up as much as I could, knowing that I didn’t want to live in Utah forever (I had been raised in the military and lived in a number of places throughout the US and abroad). The best thing, I think, was that others knew what to expect from you and you could, for the most part, know what to expect from them. Sure, there were exceptions, but by and large it was great going out to eat and not having to tell your friends “No thanks, I don’t drink” when they offered you a beer.

    I have a few kids of my own, and, given their personalities, likes, dislikes, and goals, I expect that some will go to the Y and some will go to school elsewhere. So I liked BYU, warts and all, but would never go back to live in Utah again.

  64. Nate Oman on April 3, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    DKL: I had a couple of really dumb classes at BYU. They tended to be GE requirements. On the other hand, I also had some very difficult classes at BYU, ie Pol. Sci. 200, Macroeconomics, etc. as well as classes with substantial writing requirements.

    The only other educational institution that I can compare BYU to on the basis of personal experience is Harvard Law School. Here is what I found: Lots of my classes at HLS were much more difficult than my classes at the Y. Some of my classes at HLS were a joke. There were lots of things about HLS that were intellectually liberating and exciting. On the other hand, I found that I missed the intellectual “Mormoness” of my discussions at BYU. I was studying things that I saw as raising a host of interesting religious and theological issues, but having no more than a tiny handful of peers that I could talk to about these things. So I had to work to create alternative fora, like the law and religion reading group I organized my 2L year, the now-defunct lds-law list, The Metaphysical Elders, and ultimately this blog, which grew out of the lds-law list. All of these were attempts to capture something of what I lost when I left BYU. This is not meant as an anti-HLS statement or as some sort of unqualified endorsement of BYU. It is just my way of saying that the sterility and oppression that you experienced at BYU doesn’t account very well for my experience.

    I certainly don’t want to idealize BYU, if for no other reason than I want them to be realistic about their weaknesses so that they can improve them. On the other hand, I think that it is a place with considerable strengths.

  65. anonymous on April 3, 2006 at 6:43 pm

    I have read all of the comments with interest – not because I am thinking of becoming a student at BYU but because I am currently considering a faculty position there. I have never been a student at the Y nor lived in Utah (or anywhere else in the West) so many of your comments speak to my own concerns – not really concerns, I guess, just areas of uncertainty. I am comfortable in my minority status as a member of the Church in the midwest and anticipate that I would still feel like a bit of a minority (albeit a different kind of minority) even in and around BYU given my outsider status and political leaning, among other things.

  66. gst on April 3, 2006 at 8:06 pm

    Long live the defunct lds-law list.

  67. bobus on April 3, 2006 at 10:46 pm

    BYU is the Matrix

  68. mullingandmusing (m&m) on April 4, 2006 at 12:43 am

    #65
    I can think of two people in particular who would probably give you different points of view. One is a close friend who works at BYU, loves being part of the culture, loves starting secular classes with prayer — in short, loves the possibility to have a combination of faith and work in sometimes explicit ways. The other friend enjoys work, but has struggled with being in Utah after being out of state (the other friend had also moved from out of state). I personally think it’s wise for those who come to BYU to want to be a part of the culture, both at work and living in the area. My experience is that the best professors were those who clearly loved BYU (the close friend talks of Pres. Samuelson saying that if you don’t want to work at BYU, that’s ok…there are plenty of places to work — it really is a unique place suited for certain people) and wanted to contribute to the students’ BYU experience (that combination of religion and academics that makes BYU unique). And the most happy people living in the area just love what makes the area great, and tolerate the quirky stuff. (I’ve had experiences in various locales when people focus on the negative and essentially choose to be miserable (both inside and outside of Utah). Their attitudes become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and bring a sourness to their persona that can affect others….) Anyway, just some thoughts….

    Also, it might be helpful to see if you can find some addresses at BYU-I and BYU to faculty to get a feel for the vision the leadership tries to create. (I recently ran across one by then Pres. Bednar at BYU-I, which is why this suggestion comes to mind) that gives a good feel for the tone set for faculty. The close friend gets really fired up about the vision of the leaders (which is focused mostly on undergraduate education and, of course, involves a vision for BYU’s place in the work of the kingdom. This person finds that all really exhilirating. Does that sound exhilirating to you?

    Good luck with your decision….

  69. Mark B. on April 4, 2006 at 9:49 am

    obi-wan’s snarky jab at the end of 48 deserves a razor of his own, sort of like Gene Hackman administered on the “deppity” in Mississippi Burning.

    Having a lovely daughter who graduated from Bryn Mawr last June, I spent enough time on that lovely campus that I can tell you that many of the young women there use razors regularly, practice generally accepted hygiene principles and are bright, hard-working, interested in using their minds to make a difference and heterosexual.

  70. Mark B. on April 4, 2006 at 10:05 am

    Re comment 59:

    I understand how you feel Gordon, since my oldest daughter went to BYU 9 years ago.

    She had graduated from a very competitive high school in New York, had never really dated, hadn’t obsessed about “boyfriends,” was then (and still is) very bright, a highly motivated student–and halfway through her sophomore year she called to say she had met the man she wanted to marry. That summer. And if that didn’t work out, then the end of April, when school got out.

    I don’t think it had anything to do with anything her bishop said. (is “bishopocide” a word?)

    As you can imagine, I spent some long nights staring at the ceiling.

    But, nearly seven years on, we couldn’t be happier (nor, I believe, could she, except when her children spend the day on the warpath). She finished her B.A. (the subject of no small amount of discussion with her intended), and her husband seems to be the kind of man parents hope their daughter will have the good fortune to meet and marry. (Lest that comment be thought hopelessly “patriarchal” by some of the gentle or not-so-gentle readers, let me say that I have corresponding hopes regarding the women I have hoped my sons would meet and marry.)

    So, I’m with you in your hopes for your daughter’s not marrying at 18. But, as the New York Lottery ads say, Hey, You never know.

  71. Eliza on April 4, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    BYU is the Matrix, isn’t it?

    My 2 little cents (CA native, attended BYU from 2000-2004):

    I never once heard an opening prayer in a class, unless it was in the JSB. (Or unless it was the MARB-turned-chapel on Sundays.)

    None of my bishops said a word to me or to congregations I sat with about marriage that you wouldn’t hear in any family ward, especially my freshman year bishop–he was too busy trying to keep all us R.S. sisters from tempting the pre-mission boys. But I heard horror stories from friends in other wards. Not so much dorm wards, though–unless you’re talking about Heritage Halls, in which case, I can totally see that. Just kidding.

    To the person moving to SLC: Good luck! Actually I love living here and will miss it when I leave (moving to DC this summer). I’m in the east Fort Union area, where you most definitely will see congregations like the testimony meeting you described. Just head north and east, though (Sugarhouse, Trolley, Aves), and you’ll feel like you’re in a different world.

    I loved BYU. My freshman year (in Helaman Halls) was a little like EFY (I’ll admit, my memories of EFY were one big reason for me to choose BYU as a 17-year-old eager to go on a date with a member of the Church for once). But overall, it was faith-building, eye-opening (believe it or not), admittedly “bubblish” and not for everyone, but perfect for me at the time.

  72. Eliza on April 4, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    Incidentally, I did get married at BYU, my senior year, but I didn’t feel pressure from anyone else to do so earlier, or even to do so then. If anything I felt pressure NOT to do so then, which may have more to do with my upbringing (finish college! have a career! be your own woman! etc.!–which I was still able to do while married, not surprisingly) than anything else.

    That is NOT to say that girls (and guys) at BYU don’t feel pressure to marry, because we all know it’s there!