Student life at Brigham Young University

Student life at Brigham Young University

Student life at Brigham Young University is heavily influenced by the fact that 98% of its students are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The school is privately owned by the church and aims to create an atmosphere in which secular and religious principles are taught in the same classroom. Students and faculty both are expected to adhere to an Honor Code prohibiting extra-marital sex, alcohol and other drug use, and extremes in clothing or hairstyles. Regular church activity is required among students who are members of the church. Because sororities and fraternities are not present at the school, church organizations and activities take up an even greater part of student life.

Most male students and some female students take a hiatus from their studies to serve missions for the LDS church. The school is also associated with a strong marriage culture, with many students focused on finding a spouse. This focus is largely due to teachings of the LDS church encouraging marriage and families. The University has a relatively low crime rate. It has experienced a few student protests regarding homosexuality, women's rights, and race over the years.


LDS atmosphere

According to the Brigham Young University mission statement, "The mission of [BYU] is to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life." BYU is thus considered by its leaders to be at heart a religious institution, wherein, ideally, religious and secular education is interwoven in a way that encourages the highest standards in both areas.cite web| last = Peer| first = Larry H. | title = Beethoven's Kiss: On the Odd Reasons for Brigham Young's Excellent University| work = BYU Speeches| publisher = BYU| date = December 2, 2003| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21] It is not uncommon for LDS scriptures to be referred to and prayers to be spoken in classes. In fact, it is encouraged. This weaving of the secular and the religious aspects of a religious university go back as far as Brigham Young himself, who told Karl G. Maeser when the Church purchased the school: "I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or themultiplication tables without the Spirit of God." [cite web| title = Teaching with the Spirit:A Broader Definition| work = Focus on Faculty| date = Winter 1993| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21]

BYU is also considered by many Latter-day Saints, as well as some university and Church leaders to be "The Lord's University". This phrase is used in reference to the school's perceived mission as an "ambassador" to the world for the LDS Church and thus, for Jesus Christ. [cite web| last = Rector| first = Hartman Jr. | title = Go Forth to Serve| work = BYU Speeches| publisher = BYU| date = March 25 1975| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21] In the past, students and faculty have expressed dissatisfaction with this nickname, as it sometimes gives students the idea that university authorities are always divinely inspired and never to be contradicted. [cite web| last = Waterman| first = Bryan| coauthors = Brian Kagel| title = The Lord's University:Freedom and Authority at BYU | publisher = Signature Books| url =| accessdate = 2008-02-26] Leaders of the school, however, acknowledge that the nickname represents more a goal that the university strives for, and not its current state of being. Leaders encourage students and faculty to help fulfill the goal by following the teachings of their religion, adhering to the school's honor code, and serving others with the knowledge they gain while attending. [cite web| last = Eyring| first = Henry B. | title = A Consecrated Place| work = BYU Speeches| publisher = BYU| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21] [cite web| last = Oaks| first = Dallin H.| title = The Formula for Success at BYU| work = BYU Speeches| publisher = BYU| date = 1979-09-11| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21]

Religious activity

BYU mandates that its students be religiously active. [] Students and faculty who are LDS are required to submit an affidavit (called an "ecclesiastical endorsement") stating that they are active participants in the LDS Church. The affidavit must be signed by LDS church leaders, and it must be resubmitted annually.cite web| url =| title = Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement | accessdate = 2007-05-06 | author = Brigham Young University] Non-LDS students are asked to provide a similar endorsement from an ecclesiastic (religious) leader of their choice with their application for admittance, as well as an annual review similar to the one LDS students undergo. All undergraduate students, regardless of their religion, must take 14 semester hours of religious courses to graduate. Students have a degree of flexibility with these religious courses, although they must take at least two courses covering the Book of Mormon, one covering the Doctrine and Covenants, and one covering the New Testament. [cite web| title =Religion Requirements| publisher =Brigham Young University| url =| accessdate = 2007-08-30 ]

LDS BYU students can choose to affiliate with the local congregation (ward) where they reside or the corresponding student ward. Most single LDS BYU students are members of student wards, which typically have around 150 members, while others may attend "home wards" with nearby family. Married students choose to be affiliated with married student wards or other wards in the community. These specialized church units relieve some of the leadership and administrative burden that the student population would otherwise have on local church units. In addition, student wards and stakes typically have programs designed to meet the specific needs of a younger, more transient population. Over 900 rooms on BYU campus are used for the purposes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregations. More than 150 congregations meet on BYU campus each Sunday. "BYU's campus becomes one of the busiest and largest centers of worship in the world" with about 24,000 persons attending church services on campus. [cite news| coauthors = Photography by Bradley H. Slade| title = Sunday at School | work = BYU Magazine | publisher = Brigham Young University| pages = 26-31| date = Spring 2007]

Some 97% of male BYU graduates and 32% of female graduates took a hiatus from their undergraduate studies at one point to serve as LDS missionaries. Male students typically go on their missions shortly after turning 19 years old. This often occurs during or at the end of their freshman year. Female students may begin their missionary service anytime after turning 21. For males, a full-time mission is two years in length, and for females it lasts 18 months.cite web| title = Brigham Young University Reaffirmation of Accreditation 2006 Executive Summary| publisher = BYU| date = 2006| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21]

Honor code

All students and faculty, regardless of religion, are required to agree to adhere to an honor code. Early forms of the BYU Honor Code are found as far back as the days of the Brigham Young Academy and early school President Karl G. Maeser. Maeser created the "Domestic Organization", which was a group of teachers who would visit students at their homes to see that they were following the schools moral rules prohibiting obscenity, profanity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. The Honor Code itself was not created until about 1940, and was used mainly for cases of cheating and academic dishonesty. President Wilkinson expanded in the Honor Code 1957 to include other school standards. This led to what the Honor Code represents today: rules regarding chastity, dress, grooming, drugs and alcohol. A signed commitment to live the honor code is part of the application process, and must be adhered by all students, faculty, and staff. Students and faculty found in violation of standards are either warned or called to meet with representatives of the Honor Council. In rare cases, students and faculty can be expelled from the school or lose tenure.cite web| last = Bergera| first = Gary James | coauthors = Ronald Priddis| title = Chapter 3: Standards & the Honor Code| work = Brigham Young University: A House of Faith| publisher = Signature Books| date = 1985| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21]


BYU's social and cultural atmosphere is unique. The high rate of enrollment at the university by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints results in an amplification of LDS cultural norms; BYU was ranked by "The Princeton Review" in 2008 as 14th in the nation for having the happiest students and highest quality of life.cite web| title = 2008 Best 366 Colleges Rankings| publisher = The Princeton Review| date = 2008| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21] However, the quirkiness and sometimes "too nice" culture is often caricatured, for example, in terms of marrying early and being very conservative.

Marriage statistics

One of the characteristics of BYU most often pointed out is its reputation for emphasizing a "marriage culture." [cite web| title = Study focuses on BYU marriage perceptions| work = Daily Universe| publisher = BYU| date = April 29, 2005| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21] Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints highly value marriage and family, as well as marriage within the faith.cite web| last = Clark| first = Natalie | title = BYU marriage rates higher than national average | work = Daily Universe| publisher = BYU| date = 3 Oct 2005| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21] Consequently, the enormous population of LDS single adults in and around Provo makes it a mecca for singles in the church, irrespective of their affiliation with BYU. [cite web| last = Brown| first = Brooke | title = For Better or Worse: Utah County Leads State in Marriage Rates| work = Daily Universe| publisher = BYU| date = 26 Nov 2007| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21] BYU's reputation as a place to court potential mates is well known both within and without the BYU community, and is encouraged to some extent by the school's administrators and ecclesiastical leaders, who publicly highlight "successful" marriage statistics. [cite web| title = Unknown| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21] Approximately 51% of the graduates in BYU's class of 2005 were married. This is compared to a national marriage average among college graduates of 11%. BYU students on average marry at the age of 22, according to a 2005 study, while the national average age is 25 years for men and 27 for women. [cite web| last = Clark| first = Natalie | title = BYU marriage rates higher than national average | work = Daily Universe| publisher = BYU| date = 3 Oct 2005| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21] Marriage statistics for the state of Utah, a state which, like BYU, has a largely Mormon population as a whole indicate that BYU's marriage rate compares to that of the state in general, with the median age at marriage in Utah being 23 for men, and 21 for women. [cite web| last = Schramm| first = David | title = A Glimpse at the Marriage & Divorce Statistics for Utah| publisher = Utah| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21] In regard to marriage, BYU is thus best described as a reflection of the cultural practices of the LDS population as a whole, rather than as an outlier.

Crime and drug levels

Many visitors to BYU, and Utah Valley as a whole, report being surprised by the culturally conservative environment. Brigham Young University's Honor Code, which all BYU students agree to as a condition of studying at BYU, prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, etc. As mentioned earlier, The Princeton Review has rated BYU the "#1 stone cold sober school" in the nation for several years running, an honor which the former LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley has commented on with pride. The school's strait-laced reputation is a major selling point in athletic recruiting. As non-LDS players have become ever more important to the school's teams, BYU's wholesomeness is often attractive for prospective students who prefer an academic or social environment without alcohol, illegal drug abuse, and violent crime. [cite web| last = Schwenke| first = R. Leuma | title = An End to Negative ‘Race Card’ Recruiting for BYU?| publisher =| date = February 3, 2004| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21] According to the Uniform Crime Reports, incidents of crime in Provo are lower than the national average. Murder is rare, and robberies are about 1/10th the national average. [cite web| title = Provo UT Crime Statistics (2006 Crime Data)| publisher =| url =| accessdate = 2008-01-21]


In the 1970s, several schools protested BYU for being a racist organization—Stanford and San José State both refusing to play the university in sports. In 1970, the University of Arizona sent a “fact-finding committee” to determine if BYU was racist, after they said “rhetoric had escalated too far” with regards to racism and the Western Athletic Conference. The BYU newspaper "The Daily Universe" reported that Arizona's committee determined BYU was not racist, but was an “isolated institution whose members simply do not relate to or understand black people.” BYU football players were met by 75 picketers demonstrating against racism at BYU when they played Arizona a week after the report. [ [ BYU NewsNet - Racial issues heat up; BYU accused of racism, blacks get priesthood in '70s ] ]

In April 1992 during Take Back the Night, an on-campus women's rights group marched in protest of the University's not having a Women's Resource Center. They feared that by not having such a center BYU was not giving much-needed aid to female students who were the victims of rape and abuse. By December 1992, a center had been approved. Then-BYU President Rex E. Lee said that the decision of the Board of Directors to approve the building of the center was unanimous. [ [ Excerpts - The Lord's University: Freedom and Authority at BYU ] ] [ [ Women's Services - Home ] ]


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