On the Art of Being Talked Down To

It takes a very peculiar disposition to tolerate constant patronizing. I honestly must say that I didn't expect to find so many with this particular trait in one of the nation's most revered private institutions. However, BYU administration seems to understand most of their students quite well; the majority of Brigham Young University's undergraduates are easily handled.

Let me back up. Some have asked how the Transportation Symposium went. It went wonderfully. We had no complaints from the attendees. In fact, most everybody I saw, presenters and audience alike, left the room in a buzz of excitement.

We did have one minor complaint though. This came namely in the form of the administration trying to shut us down. About halfway through the day of the event we were, in effect, barred from presenting on campus. We were saved by a professor with tenure who, after voicing his endorsement and reserving us a room, was asked to attend a "meeting to discuss some concerns" in the ASB. Whoops!

So I guess we pissed some people off. And yesterday Jan Scharman, our lovely patron saint of Student Life, issued this. What does this say? Here's the breakdown:

- The EdPass is over.
- The door is always open to UTA to restrike a deal!
- It takes two to negotiate (AKA it's UTA's fault everybody!)
- Bus passes and parking permits are not the same thing.
- Our tuition doesn't include extraneous fees beyond our education.
- It would be too hard to talk to the Board of Trustees about this issue.

Ok! So! What have we learned here: BYU knows that it can, basically, say anything it wants to and the student body will not care.

As I've said, it takes a very special attitude to tolerate patronizing. And BYU has that in spades.

Here's what's wrong with everything the administration is telling us:

1. Jan Scharman's assertion that bus passes and parking passes are not "apples to apples" is absurd. It's absurd because it's based upon the fact that parking is used for the "multifaceted needs" of the campus. For football and so on. Ok, cool. Why is that an argument that they should be free while bus passes aren't even touched? And how does that not signal, in the most overt way, that students are not the focus of Brigham Young University? Isn't it a travesty that some students aren't able to afford bus passes because every once in a while BYU actually wins a game and people want to park sort of on campus? Is that really the question we have to ask right now?

Not only that, but her statement is in reference to how money is spent to fund these two forms of transportation. She isn't saying that they are two different issues; at least I hope she isn't. Because if she is then I have reason to honestly fear how our money is being spent. Anyone in a position of power who doesn't understand that TRANSPORTATION IS TRANSPORTATION IS TRANSPORTATION doesn't deserve to make decisions about transportation. Mainly because they have no clue what they're doing.

2. UTA isn't being cooperative. Well, from all my talks with Mountainland and Provo City and UTA, it seems as though BYU has been kind of the worst business partner possible. In fact, they actively restricted the BRT line from coming up to the Wilk. No buses on campus, period, is the policy. How is it that UVU payed over $200,000 per year for their EdPass Program this last year but BYU payed around $500,000 (information from Stacy Adamson and Dawn Burgess, thanks ladies)? Sounds like somebody just doesn't do good business around here!

Really though, it's not even a matter of pointing fingers. It's the most childish thing in the ENTIRE WORLD to say that someone is really difficult to deal with. You are currently the administrator who services 30,000 undergraduates dude. Gird your loins and make a decision that will BENEFIT YOUR STUDENTS. Life is hard, but the Church ain't cheap. You're going to have to bite the bullet sometimes.

3. Which leads me to the BYU Board of Trustees thing. Really? You are seriously saying, to any one and everyone, that you aren't going to talk to your bosses, the heads of the Church, because it would be difficult? Is anyone else appalled that our Student Life VP is afraid to talk to her brother? Oh and I don't mean that in the Church sense. Cecil O. Samuelson. Brother to Janet Scharman. Whoops!

4. Our tuition doesn't pay for anything other than our education. Ok, I don't know if I believe that whatsoever, but let's just say I do. What about our tithing then? Doesn't that go towards subsidizing every aspect of University life? In a sense, then, we're already paying for everything else. It's not a big deal to tack on five extra bucks to our tuition if it will benefit the students. Are you really being that petty?

And it all leads back to this. The article up there mentions that the Student Advisory Council voted to negate the pass on Tuesday. Thanks BYUSA, you really helped us out didn't you? What happened to SERVE MORE? What happened to BELONG MORE? What ever happened to your Charter?

BYUSA is charged with the two-fold responsibility to serve and advise, and is granted administrative support and funding from the University's President's Council... The Student Advisory Council, or SAC, helps to perform the organizational mission in advising the administration and students across campus... Under the Peterson-May (2010-2011) Administration, the SAC Vice President role was reorganized. Responsibilities previously assigned to the SAC VP, are now performed by the Executive Vice President.

[sourced: Wikipedia]

The last time I talked to Sterling May (Student head of BYUSA) about all of this (he's, by the way, a paid employee of the University), I was told that he, and BYUSA, couldn't do anything about the situation. Well looks like they just did.

It's just absurd. It really is. And the message is sent over and over and over again that BYU students should shut up and be quiet about what they want and need on campus.

I raise this question: there are around 200 physically handicapped students on campus (this does not include those with short-term physical disabilities, like a broken leg). If this is a "walking campus" as the administration so often reminds us, what is someone supposed to do if they can't walk, let alone drive? Is there even an answer to that?

I don't really think the majority of BYU students enjoy doing kowtows to Janet Scharman and BYUSA. But it doesn't really matter what I think. It matters what happens, and I guess the message is pretty obvious: BYU students will eat anything and everything that's shoved down their throats.

To Janet Scharman, Sterling May, Cecil O. Samuelson, and the BYU Board of Trustees:

You are not currently serving your students. The disparity between the amazing aspects of the University and the nonexistent ones is impoverishing your image. Suck it up. Stop shortchanging us. Stop favoring the rich, white, and able. Just be the loving, equitable, educational institution you profess to be. Because, honestly, it's incredibly insulting to the students who would like to be on equal terms with their Sisters and Brothers in the Church.



Mike Youngberg said...

Alex, Hwen she makes this comment, "When we try to equate UTA and parking we are not comparing apples to apples on that one" She's telling the truth and proving a very obvious point to those of us who go to school here year round. BYU cares more about non-students who come to campus than students. Parking benefits alumni, faculty, students, and visitors. Bus passes benefit students and some faculty. Obviously BYU wants to support and benefit alumni I:E DONORS.
If you've ever been here over a summer semester you know how bad the non- student bias is, think education week, women's conference and that damn EFY. BYU makes lots of money off of these things ,so much so that they eliminate spring break and shorten thanksgiving and christmas breaks so that they can extend their summers. if you don't believe me compare school schedules for BYU, Utah, and UVU.
BYU does not care about its students because it is the most popular university in the united states, there are twenty people who want your spot. Couple that with a religious bent that stresses conformity and obedience and bam! you have a compliant student body.
I'm not criticizing the church or its leaders its people like janet scharman and the BYUSA SAC who think that they are church leaders with a calling and not employees of a university who are accountable to the student body that i have a problem with. Anyone who thinks it's too hard to talk to their boss doesn't deserve to be employed.

redneckzilla said...

Thanks for reading Mike and I agree with you one million percent.

Emily said...

I agree with everything you said.

Thanks for all your work organizing the symposium, too - I loved it.

I think that if the Church is looking into "green" and totally solar powered meetinghouses, they would be more than willing to (at least) hear about a plan to help keep Provo environmentally friendly, which would INCLUDE affordable public transportation for students.
And I think it is ridiculous that Jan Scharmann said "it would be hard to approach the church and the BYU Board of Trustees for money." If the church is loving and caring and accepting and willing to work with people, which it is - this is what we preach - then I don't think they would have a problem hearing her out on this. Lame excuses.

Bing said...

You should get a mole in BYUSA. If I were down there, I'd do it.

Sam said...

Shoot I say just run for office yourself, well actually I think we should start a riot... but thats me.

Katie said...

If you want to go to a school with all the bells and whistles then go to one that doesn't use tithing as it's main income.

I think almost everything about BYU is second rate, except for its professors and thats all I really paid for.

Dana Bradshaw said...

I know I don't go to BYU anymore, but I agree because I've seen so many of these things happen when I was there. I'd have to agree with Katie: so many things are second rate...except for, perhaps, the professors. I think a lot of the problems arise from the straight fact that it IS a church school. I don't mean to bash either the church or the school, but I think it needs to lend itself to more one or the other. Church or a private higher institution. The meld is just not working. Either we need to take the approach that this is a HUGE part of the Church and vice versa and the schools' policies and procedures (ie, transportation issues) need to be more charitable because as church members it's our responsibility, or they need to approach the subject more as a business and, say, charge per parking pass. EVERY other college chargers it's students per parking pass. If each student starts paying per parking pass, will that free up some funds for other areas? I mean really.
BYU either needs to be MORE church oriented and have more policies based upon chruch policies, OR it needs to just suck it up and run it like a real business.

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