Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Been Thinking...

Thinking pretty hard, to tell the truth. And trying to remain calm. I can get pretty worked up over this thing I've been pondering.

It started when my latest BYU Magazine came in the mail. Now, before you start to wondering just what about an issue of a college magazine could get me all worked up, please understand, I like BYU. I'm a proud BYU graduate. My dad is a BYU professor (English Dept). My mom has both her bachelors and masters from BYU. My parents (I hate to admit this) met at BYU. We escaped Utah briefly while Dad earned his PhD from Cornell. In the end, we ended up right back in Provo when dad went looking for a job. All in all, we like it here. Really. Even if we are not your typical Mormon family. Which, we definitely. are. not.

See, my parents are what have been referred to as "thinking" Mormons. We did not excel at Family Home Evening. Or Family Prayer. Or even Scripture Reading. No, we were a bit too disorganized for all that. (I'm not saying this is good, or even okay, I'm just telling you how it is.) There were, after all, 8 of us kids, and only 2 of them. But we were good at discussions. Lots of deep, thoughtful discussions, about just about everything. Including the gospel. We could start talking about something at the dinner table, and end up in the living room, long after the dishes should have been cleared away, and the littler kids in bed, still discussing whatever it was. We have a dictionary in every room, except maybe the bathrooms. That's the kind of family I grew up in. We talked about everything, explored every angle. We believe in being educated, for the sake of education, learning, enlightenment. We like to question things, think about stuff. Open our minds. Mom taught us that we could become anything, do anything we set our minds to. Knowledge is power. Words are fascinating. So bear all that in mind, as I begin to tell you what's been getting my dander up recently.

The latest issue of BYU Magazine sports a cover that looks like the front of a refrigerator. Magnets that spell out "I <3 mom", a few pictures, and word magnets, like the kind you get in magnetic poetry/prose sets, that spell out the feature article: "Homework: How moms employ their BYU education at home". Just reading the title makes my upper lip curl.( I wish I was kidding.) I tell myself, they didn't mean it that way. I'm sure that's not the angle they're pitching. I set it down in the living room, face down so I don't have to see that title on the cover. I don't want to hate the magazine, I want to be tolerant. I'm sure they meant well. All the same, I can't make myself read it. Not yet. I push the bad thoughts to the back of my mind until I can mentally prepare myself for what lies within.

Then, Tuesday night, at book club, one of the other gals (also a BYU grad)  brings up something sort of related. She says, (and, I have not researched the basis of this - I'm just relating what she told me) that after a decade of BYU trying to increase their academic standing in the world, recruiting top students, going for the really smart ones, and basically stressing the "university" aspect of what I always thought of as a very respectable institute of higher learning (the business school has always been heavily recruited by top accounting firms - or at least, that's what they told us); after a decade of this, they discover that these "smarter" students, these academic types, are not getting married. The marriage rate of our (not so) little LDS university has gone down. They are finally, at long last, shaking the image of being that school so many young ladies attend to get their MRS, never mind how irrelevant that was in the first place, because not all of them quit when they get married (I'm not sure I know of even one fellow student from my circle that didn't finish, even after having a baby), and when it works, when they finally have more students interested in getting their degrees than getting that little ring on their finger and starting a family, they panic. They change their tactics. They begin to recruit another type of student. Something more along the lines of "cheerleaders" (her word, not mine). Because the smart ones aren't getting married.

Did you get that? The smart ones are not getting married. Pandemonium ensues.

This is going to take a while, telling you how I feel about this. I'm going to have to come back to this later, when I've had a chance to calm down and think rationally. (and maybe to research her allegations: are the marriage stats published somewhere? or is this just the "buzz" around campus? also: does it matter? Or is it enough that someone thinks this way (I'm not saying my friend actually feels/believes this, either - she's just the one that shared it with me), and I just don't think it's right, even if it's not grounded in actual fact?)


Michelle said...

It was a very intriguing statement, I agree. I like having graduated from a school that is well-known for it's academic standards. I kind of cringed, too, when I heard the rumor. (i believe you cringed anyway. i felt it!) I'd really like to know the facts behind this heresay. I think once we can get a hold of them (if that is even possible) then we could really sort our thoughts out into a good discussion. In the mean time, while it's heresay... I guess I just won't let myself get carried away thinking about it...
Now if I could just get my hands on that BYU magazine... I'm really interested!

David said...

So, I opened up my copy of BYU magazine this weekend and had a similar reaction to the title, but I was intrigued. (Turns out it was written by the wife of a friend of mine.) I thought it was really weird that this was the feature article in the school's magazine so I googled the title hoping to find something someone had written. You bring up some interesting issues -- I would like to know what the source is for your friend's assertion that BYU is changing its tactics in recruiting women. I don't doubt it but I'd be really interested in knowing where that came from.

Anyway, thanks for writing about it.