Though not a BYU alumnus, I am a fan of Brigham Young, the first successor of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founder Joseph Smith, Jr., and the chief colonizer and first governor of the territory of Deseret, later the state of Utah. Though not sports-minded, I admire the school that bears his name, and I am the father of three former BYU students, as well as two BYU in-law spouses. Two of the five did transfer to and graduated from USU.
My initial reaction to Saturday’s news article was dismay and even a little shock. I read that students “. . . shouldn’t live in fear of messing up . . .” Ha! That’d be nice to not live in fear of consequences for my own choices. Perhaps the difference between their thinking and mine is about 45 years in the real-world.
However, after some thought, I empathize with the so-called “Restore Honor” group. Living by challenging lifestyle standards in an ever-changing world is difficult — always has been. The world’s lifestyles change — always have. Standards do not — never have. Actually, that is the definition of a standard: It stays put, doesn’t move, serves as a constant reference.
Though standards don’t move, beware of appearances: Objects moving one direction make related stationary objects appear to move the other direction, when in fact they haven’t changed at all. An object in the center can appear off-center because a related object has moved left or right. Sometimes a basketball net, soccer net, etc., is referred to as a standard. That is because they are the real goal, they don’t move — at all. No, not to make it easier or more difficult for the players. One doesn’t lower, or raise, or tilt the hoop; or suddenly grab the net and move it into the path of the ball or puck. The goals’ positions were determined in a calm, tranquil setting of careful, rational thinking and planning; not in the heat of a game! The goal, or standard, is where it belongs. The player’s job is to hit, or defend, that goal, despite radical movements of the opposition. Keeping one’s eyes on the goal prevents distraction by the deceptive tactical actions of the foe.
As to BYU’s options to the protesters, a story from my past comes to mind: As a little boy of about four years, in a tantrum over not getting my way on some long-forgotten matter, I actually said to my dad “I HATE YOU!”.His reaction? Did I get my toy, or my way, or whatever it was? Did I get a spanking? No. Dad calmly took me by the hand. He picked up an empty grocery bag in his other hand and helped me fill it with clothes. We then went together to the refrigerator and he asked me what food I wanted to take with me. At this point I asked him, “What are we doing this for?” “Oh, if you hate me, there are lots of other daddies. Maybe you’ll find one whom you love. This clothes and food should help you on your way.” I didn’t have to think very long. I got over my tantrum quickly.
I learned a lesson that day beyond the scope of a normal four-year-old. I really loved my dad then. And I still do, even more, today!
From an ancient Middle Eastern text comes a proverb “One cannot ride two horses.” Trying to stay on both horses eventually pulls you apart. Another well-known personality stated it this way: “No man can serve two masters: for . . . he will hate the one, and love the other.”
Back to BYU’s unhappy student dilemma: BYU should institute a new department. Call it RUST (Rapid Unhappy Student Transfer).
Envision RUST as an administrative group on campus with connections to other universities with easier lifestyle standards, or none at all. RUST provides dissatisfied students with a list of optional campuses, offering rapid assistance in the most efficient transfer of the student’s academic credits to the university of their choice. RUST could even provide transportation and housing information to help the student on his or her way. Given the high academic requirements for BYU admission, I imagine many universities would be anxious to get their names on BYU’s RUST list.
The “several hundred” unhappy students now have access to unrestrained lifestyle, and the tens of thousands of happy BYU students (HELLO-O-O) don’t have to listen to the whines of the distracted few. As for “compassion,” BYU’s RUST department would provide an open door to return after one year, for those former BYU students who change their minds about standards and honor codes. Some may, you know. Joni Mitchell once sang the very true lyric, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.”
Just an opinion.
John Eiman is a resident of Mendon.