Why I Don’t Like BYU–And Why They’re Surprising
I’m not particularly fond of BYU. Yes, the school. It stems from my parents not liking BYU; they’d take me to sports games against BYU, and to my young mind, it was just to be against them. They didn’t care if I looked at the game or even cared about the game as long as we were sitting on the side that was against BYU. This also brought on an aversion to sports, but that’s not the point of this post.
After investigating all the colleges in Utah, because I knew I wanted go out of state and date Mormon boys, I determined early that I didn’t want to go to BYU. It felt like the elitist college for Mormons. They have high standards for acceptance and they have an unusual dress code. You don’t necessarily need to be a Mormon to get into that college, but you need to listen to the prayers they have before every class and you can’t wear facial hair of any type.
This stuff is weird, even for a Mormon living Mormon standards. Unnecessary, even. Brigham Young had a beard, and the school’s named after him! And there’s no need to treat educational classes like church meetings. It’s also a huge school with a huge campus and huge classes, the opposite of the high school I picked and definitely opposite of what I wanted. I was fine with living in Utah for the sake of meeting Mormon boys; I had a lonely high school career because there weren’t too many boys around to pick from. I knew that I was unusual as it was, but I wanted to find an artist who was also a Mormon.
I also knew that Utah society can be oppressive. I knew that BYU was the Central Mormon Breeding Grounds. I told myself that I didn’t need to go to the center, but only to the outskirts. I ended up in Cedar City, which is about an hour and a half away from Las Vegas. It was perfect for me.
Still, that accursed school won’t ever completely disappear from my life. Before I started thinking about college, I went to EFY at BYU. EFY is a church youth camp. Yes, it costs money, but teenagers all gather on a college campus to make friends from all over the US and to be spiritually enlightened. Especially For Youth is an amazing experience, and the year I went to BYU for a week, I knew that it wasn’t the university that I went to, but the people and the Spirit that was there.
Even though I spent two years in Cedar City, the majority of my church friends from the ‘Burque have ended up at BYU. In fact, one year, we organized an Albuquerque reunion at BYU. I was the only one who travelled.
When I got married, Just’In has dragged me to mission reunions that are held at BYU. He went on a mission to Northern Idaho. To keep track of the other missionaries he knew there, reunions are organized.
And the clincher? On the same vacation that I met The Chicago Cabbie, we went to Nauvoo, Illinois. It’s just a normal city, but it’s significant in Mormon history. We saw and did all the touristy things, and we also took a few sidetrips, like a tourist ought. We took one evening to go listen to a live Jazz concert. My dad and my uncle are jazz enthusiasts, and I became one as well, sitting in that seat in Nauvoo. My feet were bouncing, and I was cheering and clapping. I had expected to take a nap and maybe do some plot development as my mind wandered. It was a BYU band, after all.
That mostly-improvisational concert made me think differently about the school. In retrospect, maybe my parents took us to BYU sports games because they knew they’d watch a struggle that invokes cheers, not an effortless massacre. The Spring Break that culminated in seeing friends on their campus was also spent going to a ballroom dance competition and to a men’s choir performance. It’s not the school for me, but it definitely produces some outstanding art programs.