Why I will not donate to BYU this year, or pretty much ever.

And it’s not due to having very little extra money or dissapointment with my time at BYU. I rather enjoyed most of my time at BYU.

It is that time of year again, apparently, as I am asked through e-mail and over the phone to donate to BYU. So I’m going to put on record why I will not donate (not counting any tithing money that goes to BYU).

1.  BYU’s shameful treatment of it’s prestigious and long running academic science fiction symposium LTUE.  Some details are here, but those involved are too politic, hoping to get back into the good graces of BYU.  Knowing many of the people involved, I’ve heard of verbal abuse from BYU admins about getting rid of the geeks and claims that BYU is tarnished by hosting a well regarded, highly attended, long running academic symposium that was partially founded by one of the best selling Mormon authors of all time.

2.  No wrestling.  Rather than comply with Title IX the hard way, BYU went the easy route and just eliminate a bunch of men’s sports.  Given that we have several historical records detailing Joseph Smith love of and prowess in wrestling, this decision makes little sense, other than “we must protect football at all costs” (and considering the creation of a female wrestling team, given that the Olympics have Women’s wrestling, wouldn’t be all that difficult).

I originally wrote a much longer rant, but I’ve decided to cut it back as much as possible.  Not that BYU cares about my money, as I am not a rich donor and likely never will be.  But I figure if anyone needs to know, I will never donate to BYU until LTUE and Wrestling are returned and fully funded, I will not donate to BYU for any reason.

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About Ivan Wolfe

Ivan Wolfe teaches rhetoric at Arizona State University. He has a PhD in English from the University of Texas - Austin, and a BA and MA in English (with minors in Classical Greek, Music, and Philosophy) from BYU. He has several credits on various Christmas albums aimed at the LDS market, several essays in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series, and various book reviews in academic and popular venues. He also competes in Scottish Highland Games and mud run/obstacle course races, and he can deadlit over double his bodyweight (his last PR was over 500 pounds). He is currently married to Lisa Renee Wolfe. He has six kids and four stepkids.

55 thoughts on “Why I will not donate to BYU this year, or pretty much ever.

  1. Having only walked across the campus and never attended a class, I personally feel it is a waste of my tithing. Why should so many students be subsidized, when a majority of us attend other schools at our own expense? Why not just give a school voucher to all tithe-paying students to attend the school of their choice? I hate the concept of my tithing subsidizes even the wealthy that attend BYU.

    Second, and much more important, is BYU’s failure in what should be its greatest strength: religious education. Given Prof Bott’s failure in keeping up regarding the priesthood ban, embarrassing the Church and BYU, and to find out he’s taught his racist concepts for decades to thousands of students each year, tells me that BYU needs to be taken down several notches. Their priorities and responsibilities are totally confused on many issues, you mentioned the football issue as an example.

    Imagine how many temples we could build; how many poor young men could be sent on missions; how many disasters we could assist in, if we just closed down BYU-Provo!

    I graduated from Troy University (in Alabama) without any subsidies from the Church. I was able to be an example to my non-member fellow students. I was able to be of strong service to my stake and ward (including serving in a bishopric and stake clerk) while attending college.

    If we really want these kids to gain a testimony, get them out of the feeble hands of Prof Bott, and into the real world, where their testimonies will be tested and strengthened.

  2. “I won’t donate to BYU because they don’t have a team for a sport I love.”

    How shallow. The purpose of the university extends so far beyond athletics, I think it’s a shame they haven’t follow BYU-I’s lead and dismantled the rest of their programs.

  3. I am a BYU graduate, as is my husband. I’m thankful for the tithing that pays for the CES systems around the world. If you want to cut off BYU, then you cut off seminary and Institutes of Religon as well — are we all ok with that? I attended community college before BYU and went to institute and seminary in high school. I think all of these things are GOOD! The Church has a long established tradition of education, and I think it’s worth continuing. Do we also cut off church schools in other parts of the world because someone doesn’t like how their tithing is being spent? We pay our tithing, we shouldn’t be snarking on how it gets spent.

    Personally, I had experiences that made me a better person, because of my time at BYU. I think it’s great, however, that we have LDS people in all different schools — to influence the school, community, neighborhood for good. My brothers, sisters and parents all are Arizona State Univ, grads and had similar good experiences thru the insitutue and on campus there…Rame, I don’t think it’s fair to say you would have a “stronger” testimony because you attended a state school. People can have good, meaningful, testimony builing experiences no matter where they are.

    I don’t think it’s fair to throw the whole of BYU under the bus because of one person’s misstatments either. The real issue should have been, why was Bro Bott portrayed at an “official representative” of the LDS church when he is not? My answer is because those in the media are looking for anything to make the church look bad, and being less than honest with those that they interviewed. Bro Bott was told by the reporter that he would have a follow up and would get to see the final article before publication. The reporter bears some of the blame here, at least, that’s how I see it. I’m going to try and give Bro Bott the benefit of the doubt (because he is a very nice person) and say that he was misquoted and/or had his remarks taken out of context, without being given the chance to clear things up and/or correct the mistakes in the article.

    With that said, nothing is perfect, and BYU does have it’s “issues”, however it is a good school, with a good mission and focus. I’ve never been a fan of their aggressive fund raising, but all universities do this. All you have to do is politely say no, to the poor student, whose job it is to call and solicit you. They’re pretty nice about it too.

  4. Joyce, dismantling BYU would not mean we would dismantle seminaries and Institutes, many of which work without a salary or extra expense to the Church.

    I’m glad that you had a positive experience at BYU. That said, could you not have had a positive experience and spiritual growth at a state or private university that was not subsidized by tithing? Let’s face it, BYU is expensive. There was a time that the Church had high schools and grade schools in many countries, including Bolivia. Guess what? Long ago, we closed down those programs, even though the need is much greater than the need for another university in the USA. Should BYU be so sacrosanct that it can not or should not also be expected to pay its own way, rather than be subsidized by tithing?

    I made it through college by working full time and paying my way, and with a stay at home wife and three kids. No one was there to subsidize my tuition and books, outside of a few scholarships I earned and tuition assistance from my job.

    That BYU provides atrocious religious views from people like Prof Bott is a black mark on the church. That students have been complaining about his bigotry for decades is well noted, as well as the religious department’s down playing of all those complaints. Why should I subsidize that?

    As with the high schools in Bolivia and elsewhere, which were not considered so sacrosanct that they couldn’t be unloaded, perhaps it is time to allow BYU to become more privatized, or support itself?

    That BYU is first subsidized, and then aggressively seeks more money suggests it is an out-of-control monster that needs to be tamed or slain. Prof Bott’s actions and the Religious Dept’s inaction over the years also suggests the same thing.

    Are there some good departments there? I’m sure there are. But once you trash the religious department, what real difference is there between BYU and USU or some other university? Not much, except you have lots of LDS singles in one place. I think they also have that same thing at U of U, without all the subsidies.

  5. Oh, and the evidence shows Prof Bott has taught the curse of Cain and a lot of other personal beliefs in his religious classes for years. He may be a nice guy, but he’s shown himself as a poor religious instructor, paid on my dime/tithing. And his whole department is complicit in this, as I mentioned above. They’ve covered for him, and perhaps others as well, for a lot of years, allowing them to preach their bigotry to thousands of students. That is not just a misquoted professor, but a BYU professor of religion who has made these same statements for years. He was not misquoted, and he represented the school, and therefore the Church. He should have known better. He should have read Elder McConkie’s talk on forgetting everything previously said prior to the Revelation on Priesthood in regards to such things. He should have read Armand Mauss’ articles, as well as those of Darius Gray and others. Many of his students were obviously more well read on the topic than him, because many have complained over the years.

    He deserves the censuring he’s received, even by the Church on its news service. Now we’ll see if it makes any real changes at BYU or not.

    While I will always pay my tithes, I don’t necessarily have to agree with where all of it is spent, nor think that to continue subsidizing BYU is necessarily an inspired or wise thing.

  6. If it bothers you then stop paying your tithing…..like I said, we pay and don’t snark about how it is spent.

    The Church obviously feels there is a need for BYU…so why do you question that? BYU serves a purpous, people benefit from it being there — even if they are not students. And for what it’s worth, just becuase a BYU education is subsidized in part by tithing, it’s not entirely “free”. I had a job, and worked my fingers to the bone at my job and in my studies as well. I lived modestly, did not have a car, and recieved no help from my parents. I did it all on my own.

    I’m sure you are not the only one that disagrees with Bro Bott, and I’m sure BYU is dealing with him, however they see fit, so it’s not something that should be worried about — because they will deal with it. It’s just one more thing we as Latter-day Saints get to talk about. Use it as an opportunity to correct or share testimony. Even bad publicicity can be used for good.

  7. I didn’t realize they’d stopped hosting LTUE. The first time I recall being at BYU was when I went down there with a high school group for the LTUE. My group of friends made it a tradition after that (as long as we were actually close enough for it to be convenient). It was a great chance for BYU to show its diversity. They really blew it in letting it go elsewhere.

    I feel bad for the religion department. Most of my experiences with Religion Department professors were positive–Bott and McConkie being the only exceptions. It’s a shame they weren’t smart enough to get rid of those guys.

    I struggle with the fact that BYU is so heavily subsidized. I think it should significantly raise tuition (especially for the law school, which is a ridiculous steal) and offer more need-based scholarships to qualified students.

    It’s been my experience that the most effective member missionaries are young men and women between the age of 16-30. Their peers are more open to the gospel–and tend to make better quality converts–than any other age group. It’s a shame that so many miss out on member missionary work by attending a church school. They’d do so much more good attending a university in California, etc.

    I’m also not planning on donating to BYU–with one exception. There’s a fond place in my heart for the Biology Department there, and as long as they continue doing good science (and don’t allow the Botts and McConkies of the Religion Department and their allies to decide what good science is), I good see myself donating to a scholarship fund there. But the general BYU fund? Not a chance.

  8. BYU has a lot to offer Mormon undergrads that can’t be easily replicated elsewhere. I am very grateful for my BYU experience.

    I was well on my way to inactivity when going to BYU (because it was the only school I could afford that didn’t require living at home) turned me around.

  9. I’m convinced going to BYU for my undergrad, instead of Caltech or MIT, was the best decision of my life. I think BYU has filled a great need in the Church. Perfectly? no. Will it always fill a great need? Beats me. I’m a pretty good computational physicist, but I’m crap as a prophet.

  10. By the way, you don’t have to agree with Prof. Bott to see the Alinskyite use of him to attack the institution.

  11. BYU is probably necessary as a place for young Mormons not from the Mormon Corridor to come together and find mates in a good environment during a time in their lives when many people fall away from the gospel. I’m not from the Mormon Corridor, and I did not attend undergrad at BYU, but I had a scholarship at a state school in the MC where there were plenty of LDS. Not everyone has the chance to attend such a school at an affordable price. BYU has arguably preserved a whole generation of members from debt peonage, and thus raised the marriage rate and birth rate among members in N. America. It might be the only major university that, by keeping tuition down and focusing on teaching rather than research, appears to be genuinely designed for the benefit of students rather than the university itself.

  12. I loved BYU and would cry long and hard tears if it and related schools closed. There are those who don’t like it and therefore shouldn’t go. My years were filled with fun, friendship, growth, and a building testimony. It is both nationally and internationally respected, with many non-Mormons who go because of its existence.

    I am sad what they did with LTUE, but do understand the rational. The school never really supported it other than giving it a place to stay. To be honest, even while I was there the presentations had reached its zenith and started to go down hill or repeat itself.

  13. Adam G. – I’m glad BYU worked well for you. It worked well for me. I enjoyed my time there, and I would do it over again. However, it is no longer the BYU I attended, as LTUE was a huge part of my BYU experience. The outright hostility in certain quarters at BYU toward the “geek” crowd does not sit well with me.

    ldsphil – well, that’s a very uncharitable and somewhat inaccurate reading of my post, but if it makes you sick, well that’s not my fault. I’m actually bothered more by the LTUE problems than the wrestling. If they get rid of intercollegiate sports altogether, that might also resolve my concerns (but it’s very unlikely).

    Overall, I’m surprised this went off on a Bott tangent. I had one rather wacky religion teacher at BYU who taught some strange stuff, but then I had a rather odd English professor who taught some strange stuff, so I figure every department has a few of those. Overall, I enjoyed my professors. However, the one professor willing to go to the mat (to use a wrestling metaphor) for LTUE and related ventures (The Leading Edge magazine also has no department sponsorship at the time) retired and then died. It’s clear the current faculty isn’t willing to do that for various reasons.

    I could go on and on about the bad stuff that happened at BYU – abuse at the hands of BYUSA, the time LTUE had all its rooms cancelled because the president (well after the deadline, and well after we had plans in place for months) decided he needed some of the rooms to wine and dine (well, maybe not the wine part) some rich donors that weekend and didn’t want us geeks anywhere near his fund raising activity – those bugged me, but overall I had a good time at BYU. But going so far as to verbally abuse the LTUE-ers and drive the program off campus,disenfranchise The Leading Edge, etc. etc. At some point I say I’ve had enough. It’s not like I will ever apply to teach at BYU, so I don’t really care about appeasing whoever might hire me in the future.

  14. Jettboy – from what I’ve heard, LTUE itself has somewhat revived in the last couple of years, and attendance was way up. I hope to go back some year, but perhaps it won’t be there for me to go back to.

  15. I guess that I never really got involved other than attending. There was some great fun with it, but each year felt more and more like deja vu. The disconnect between it and the campus was admittedly palpable even to a casual attendee like me. A subset of students loved it, but most other students and faculty always seemed not too friendly. There were years when I wanted to go back, but I didn’t have time or the nearness. Glad that it picked up somewhere, but sad that its no longer at BYU. The fact it stayed for so many years is actually a miracle to me.

  16. In “David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism,” Gregory Prince discusses the explosive growth of BYU during the McKay administration. He attributes this growth to the aggressive lobbying of Ernest Wilkinson, who had unfettered access to President McKay and his protective secretary. Apparently several of the Twelve were upset that BYU’s budget consumed so many church resources, notably Joseph Fielding Smith, but were unable to stem it’s growth, as McKay.

    Yet BYU has won out a budget priority for the church. For me, this is a testimony to the vision and efforts of Ernest Wilkinson, who though he was not a General Authority, was successfully able to mobilize huge percentages of church resources to something he cared deeply about (if Bro. Prince’s portrayal is accurate).

    There have been other times when unauthorized subjects have had dramatic influences upon prophetic decisions in the kingdom. The Biblical ones that come to mind are Rebecca disguising Jacob as Esau, and Aaron convincing Moses to delegate his authority because of health reasons.

  17. I will not be donating to my alma mater (not BYU) because of the lack of diversity among academics on campus. There are 10 rabid left-wingers for every one moderate/conservative/libertarian. I have informed the alumni association not to call me anymore until this ratio improves a bit.

  18. As for BYU, I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of my kids ends up going there, but I do agree that the subsidized tuition is a bit unfair, especially in comparison to so many other institutions out there that cost so much more. I would say that the unique environment (actual rules in the dorms, dress code, etc) is something worth maintaining (as well as academic standards, which supposedly are improving significantly over time).

  19. Geoff –

    a 10 to 1 ratio? Dang. That’s actually pretty good, considering I know of places where it’s more like 50 to 1.

  20. LTUE was forced to move to UVU (no sponsorship from UVU – but BYU kicked them off campus, so they needed rooms somewhere). The Leading Edge still exists, but it has no department sponsorship.

  21. I agree that BYU should rid itself of all but intramural sports. The culture around that is in direct opposition to the supposed purpose of BYU.

    But that aside, I would probably not donate only because I can find more worthy endeavors to sponsor, had I the money to donate anything anyways. If I had it, I would rather offer scholarships, since students at BYU have very limited scholarship opportunities besides the one that is built in.

    I, too, worked my way through BYU, packing in classes to reduce the overall cost of my education, all while working the maximum hours they would allow.

    After attending some classes at the U, I can wholeheartedly endorse BYU, and support what they are doing to provide education in a religious environment, rather than a sexual one.

  22. Ivan, your reasons to not donate seem sound, but the lack of support within the English Department for LTUE also seems like a sound reason for the university to have have parted ways with it. It’s a sad thing for someone like you, tied to both things.

    On subsidizing a university, that’s been a big part of religious orders’ place in the world for many centuries. It’s interesting to see so much support here for withdrawing and ceding that space entirely to secular institutions. Financial subsidy is necessary to 1) make the expense comparable to that of subsidized state schools (such as Alabama’s Troy University), and 2) to maintain unambiguous control over and responsibility for the institution.

    Two things caught my teenage attention and drew me to BYU. The first was a (early morning, voluntary) seminary teacher telling a story from his time teaching at the MTC while a BYU student. I can’t remember the story, but a collateral teaching I was left with is that BYU serves the missionaries. That is a holy thing to do, and BYU serves the Church in many other ways as well, ways that are different from what dispersed Latter-day Saints can do.

    The second was things was the devotionals. There are numerous great universities, but few where frequent teaching from leaders of our Church is part of the education.

  23. John –

    well, it’s not just the English department. They actually had a home in the media and film department one year, but apparently pressure from above caused them to divest it.

    There are some supporters in the English department, however – but the problem is that those supporters found themselves under enormous pressure from above (the Dean over them and others above him), and apparently they decided in a battle between their support for LTUE and their desire to maintain collegiality with the people in power over them, LTUE lost out. So, the “lack of support” becomes a circular argument – that lack came form a direct and deliberate attempt to intimidate the support into no longer being supportive.

  24. Subsidizing is one thing. Subsidizing to the point where BYU is cheaper than anywhere else (for example, it’s by far the cheapest first-tier law school) is just silly.

  25. Tim, I go back and forth on the issue of BYU tuition. Let’s take a look at undergrad. Numbers per year.

    BYU: room, board and tuition about $14k (for members).


    BYU: room, board and tuition about $19k (for non-members).

    Most big state universities, in-state: room, board and tuition: $18k-25k

    Most big state universities, out of state: room, board and tuition: $30k to 35k

    Most expensive liberal arts schools: room, board and tuition, $50k

    So, BYU is definitely less expensive for members. However, the justification that members pay tithing that goes to a church-supported school is valid. I would point out that this is the way communitarian projects *should* work, ie, people in the community should gather together and form mutual aid societies. For Church members, BYU is an investment, similar to the many states that offer state university tuition plans. To give you one example, in Florida, you can pay an extremely small fee when your kids are young, and your kids get guaranteed tuition at a Florida state school. The BYU plan is similar to this, ie members pay tithing and are making an “investment” in their kids’ future.

    If we set aside the Mormon issue, there are many mutual aid societies (Lions, Elks, Knights of Columbus, etc) that do the same thing. You join the the society and pay your dues and you get college scholarships for your kids (if they have decent grades).

    There is also the issue of who would be affected most by BYU increasing its tuition: the poorest members. Upper middle class people would still send their kids to BYU, but middle class and below would need more scholarships. So, if you want to argue that people who make more than $250k per year should pay more for BYU, fine, but is that a fair amount, should it be $150k instead?

    Having said all that, BYU costs for Church members are significantly lower than other options (except for community college and some state schools). Unless something changes quickly, the disparity will continue to increase over time.

  26. Geoff,
    your comparison of BYU and Florida tuition programs is apples and oranges. If I pay a state for my kids from when they are young, then only my children are eligible to go on that tuition. And I set aside the money specifically for that program. However, on tithing subsidizing BYU, it does not hold that my children will even be eligible or allowed to go to that school, especially if they do not get a bishop’s approval. That and in the second instance, my tithing helps pay so the Osmond children can attend, even if they have millions of dollars more than I do.

    I would prefer that the tithing geared towards subsidizing BYU be set up as scholarships to the school. Then the money can be given out according to need, while the school still gets its infusion of Church money. Meanwhile, the wealthy can pay a little more in regular tuition to go through. Also, you can base such scholarships on the price of each program. As mentioned before, the law school is ridiculously inexpensive, compared to other law schools.

    Of course, I would prefer that BYU become mostly self sustaining, and then if the Church wants to subsidize education, well they can do something like the Perpetual Education Fund (which is via private funds, not tithing) – which is another nitpicking thing I could take up regarding fairness. Why should we subsidize wealthy American Mormons to attend BYU, and then make the poor on PEF have to repay their PEF loans? Why not have BYU students receive loans from tithing, and have them repay it later, as they do with PEF?

    I just find it to be a form of Church welfare that is not based on anything, except that BYU has a prophet’s name on it, and several GAs have attended there.

    As it is, other LDS-oriented colleges exist: Southern Virginia University and Nauvoo University, for example. Shouldn’t the Church subsidize those as well? For some reason they are doing very well, without Church assistance, and yet provide a BYU-like environment to learn and prosper in.

    I think the reasons given on why we should subsidize BYU may have been valid at one time, but no longer truly exists. We should find other ways for it to continue without direct tithing subsidies, such as some of my proposals above.

    And I’m still convinced that the Church’s future would move forward better with LDS youth attending regular colleges, where they can share their examples and testimonies with the world.

  27. Geoff B.,

    I stated earlier that I think BYU should offer more need-based scholarships. If they offer enough need-based scholarships (not full tuition scholarships, but enough to lower tuition to a more affordable rate), the poor/rich problem largely goes away.

    As far as tithing–BYU is pretty selective. Lots of LDS students are not able to get in. And the law school is such a bargain that it’s become incredibly selective–again, a lot of law students who are full tithe-payers end up going elsewhere instead. If BYU accepted all tithe-payers, that would be one thing–but they don’t, and a lot of tithe-payers end up paying higher tuition elsewhere.

  28. Tim, good points. This means that many tithe payers are paying tuition for their own kids, plus those attending BYU. Personally, I’d rather see it go toward those with real needs, or a PEF-like program.

  29. I don’t contribute to BYU because: they already get money from tithing, they built an unneeded law school, they sold their soul to Satan for big-time athletic teams, they churn out snotty-nosed libertarian twits, they use the church to propagandize kids into thinking they have to go there or their lives will be ruined. I’d rather spend my money in more useful ways.

  30. I am very thankful that the First Presidency and the other Brethren are in charge of the Church, and not Rameumpton. The Church is very definitely committed to a strong CES program, including Church universities. Have you visited BYU-Idaho lately? The new construction on that campus during the last ten years since the change to a four year school is incredible. BYU-Idaho is now the second largest university in Idaho, after Boise State. The new construction at BYU-Hawaii and BYU are also equally impressive.

    Those who attend Seminaries and Institute classes are also very much receiving a “subsidized” education–thanks to the tithes of Church members. It takes much funding to maintain these programs. Institutes at many schools such as the University of Utah, Utah State, Idaho State, etc, have many full-time intstructors, and expensive large buildings requiring much maintenance costs. Who pays for all these salaries and other expenses? The tithe payers, even though most will never attend these schools. Students enrolled in CES number more than 1.2 million. Church universities represent a small percentage of that total enrollment.

    Church universities are not free. The tuition is about the same as many state schools. It’s not like Mormon students get a free ride at BYU. When I attended BYU, I worked three part-time jobs during the school year and worked full-time during the summer to pay for school costs. Don’t forget that state schools are heavily subsidized by taxpayers–including many of the scholarships, grants, tuition assistance and GI Bill programs, which of course help those attending private schools as well.

    The Brethren are extremely careful deciding how to spend our sacred tithes. I am grateful the decision was made a long time ago, to maintain and expand the CES program of the Church – including our institutes and universities.

  31. “That BYU provides atrocious religious views from people like Prof Bott is a black mark on the church. That students have been complaining about his bigotry for decades is well noted, as well as the religious department’s down playing of all those complaints. Why should I subsidize that?”

    Belief in freedom of conscience and liberty of thought means that you tolerate people who have revolting views. That’s the price of freedom. Quite frankly, I am tired of the politically-correct witch-hunts of our time. Freedom of conscience means that we can believe in what we want, even if it is extremely unpopular. I love the First Amendment.

    I am not validating Prof. Bott’s views. But I just get sick and tired of using one man’s old-fashioned and clumsy opinion as a club against institutions. “Bigotry” is a pretty strong word to use, but hey, if you really think that Bott is a bigot, consider this: millions of hard-core secularists consider YOU to be a bigot simply because you believe in religion.

  32. “I don’t contribute to BYU because: they already get money from tithing, they built an unneeded law school, they sold their soul to Satan for big-time athletic teams, they churn out snotty-nosed libertarian twits, they use the church to propagandize kids into thinking they have to go there or their lives will be ruined. I’d rather spend my money in more useful ways.”

    Well….tell us how you REALLY feel. 😉

    Seriously though…I take you don’t like libertarians?

    I will air one personal grievance regarding BYU: I have seen BYU grads enter wards and stakes and get certain “high” leadership callings over equally spiritual (or, more spiritual!) non-BYU grads. That kind of irks me. I’ve seen it enough to know that it happens more often than it should.

    I believe that most of the time, people are called by inspiration to the callings that they receive. However, I will agree that a BYU-grad should have no preferential treatment over a FSU graduate, or even a tech school graduate.

  33. BYU’s tuition rates is partly based on the the local environment it is in. It has to compete with the Utah state schools which have tuition rates close to BYU’s. part of BYU’s mission is to serve the educational needs of the inter-mountain area, as BYU-Hawaii’s is to serve the pacific rim. There is reason to provide “cheap” education to more than those that are in financial need. for one, wealthy families don’t necessarily pay for students tuition so why should that be a factor to an individual’s educational opportunities. The financial dividends of that education may pay off more that the subsidy that was put into it. I for example went to the U of U in large part because I felt that going to BYU would “rob” someone who needed or deserved it more than I. when I transferred to BYU as a senior I still felt guilty for that. I was however very impressed with the educational environment of BYU compared with they U. I have done well in my early career, past and future donations to BYU will certainly out pace the investment of tithing subsidy. those are donations that would have gone elsewhere, and I certainly would not have transferred to BYU if I had to go from no tuition (I was on full scholarship) at the U to $20k tuition at BYU.

  34. One minor, tertiary point: it is incredibly common for reporters to talk college professors and quote them as experts on various ethnic groups, communities, faiths, fandoms, etc. etc. There is nothing at all uncommon in how Prof. Bott was represented in the article.

    Now, one can question how much digging the reporter had to do in order to find someone like Prof. Bott to go on the record with those attitudes (although considering his blog, it may have just been a Google search). One could also question the need to balance such articles with a variety of viewpoints (the silly NPR/NY Times approach where every article has to have an quote that features some fringe different or opposing perspective). On the other hand, considering that Prof. Bott was teaching such perspectives at a college that is directly supported by the LDS Church, it’s not at all a stretch to use him as a source, and an authoritative one at that.

    That being said: “Bro Bott was told by the reporter that he would have a follow up and would get to see the final article before publication.”

    It is not the standard practice for reporters at large newspapers to promise pre-publication review. They may call and confirm facts or quotes with you, but often won’t even do that. If that promise was made, then the reporter was breaking from standard protocol and deserves some flak. But even so, what that means is that BYU needs to do a better job of media training its faculty. Heck, I don’t even know why he was calling the reporter back without discussing things first with the PR office. That the conversation with the reporters even took place suggests to me a desire to get those attitudes out there.

    And this is also a good lesson to all of us. When it comes to media relations:

    1. You are always on the record with a reporter. Always. Even a reporter you trust and have developed a good relationship with will break your background or off-the-record agreement if the story is good enough that burning that bridge is worth it to the reporter and their editor. Which means that for most of us we should pretty much

    2. Never just pick up the phone and talk. If you receive a media inquiry, politely answer get a sense of what the story is about, and then make an excuse and promise to call back. Or even better — just don’t answer the phone. And then talk to somebody who can advise you on how to respond (or even help you decide if you should respond).

    As a final note, should any M* readers receive media inquiries in relation to the Church, remember that you should have a stake public affairs director (who in turn will hopefully have an assistant director for media). Use that resource.

  35. Rameumpton:

    Nauvoo U. and SVU are worthy endeavors that serve a couple of order of magnitudes less students than BYU does and have a couple of orders of magnitude less LDS professors.

    A review of all non-church owned religious schools suggest that having a church-owned school is a good thing. It prevents a considerable amount of drift.

    Your assumption that LDS kids would all do equally well in other environments assumes that testimony and faith are independent variables. This assumption is incorrect.

  36. Forgot to finish a thought: Which means that for most of us we should pretty much expect that we’re always on the record. That includes email correspondence and voicemails.

  37. Ranked against truly selective schools, BYU is far from selective-64% admit rate. Selective schools would politely laugh at those figures as being “selective.” BYU is, imo, a real bargain but even with its ridiculously low tuition it deosn’t seem to attract a lot of non-Mormons. If it is truly world class and selective, I wonder why that is. Compared to truly selective, elite religious schools with outrageous tuitions like Notre Dame, Georgetown, Villanova et al one would think people would beat a path to BYU, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

    As a non-BYU attending but tithe paying Mormon, I don’t mind seeing my tithing money go to BYU, but long ago I accepted the fact that once I pay the tithing I lose any say over how the money is spent and trust those who do decide will sincerely try their best-no matter how misguided i personally think some of their decisions are.

    As to the athletic department however, I do wish the athletic department could better manage their money so as not to tap into the general university funds, i.e. tithing monies. As of 2010, not a single Division I athletic department was financially independent. Every single athletic department spent more money than they took in and had to draw on university/college funds to pay theri bills. For most big schools like BYU it is just mismangement by the athletic department. But it is hard to reconcile the real sacrifice some people make to pay tithing to see part of that money go to indulge entertainment for a small number of church members. I write that as a huge fan of college sports (if my ACC school makes the Final Four, I won’t hesitate to skip GC to watch the game). If BYU is going to have a college sports program, and I think they should, they should be financially indepedent from any tithing monies. So you BYU fans, crack oen your wallets and contribute so our poor brethren in the Third World don’t have to underwrite your indulgent entertainment.

  38. Some schools game the numbers to generate a high selectivity since they want to be elite, and not letting people in who wish they could be in is a defining characteristic of elitism. May BYU ever avoid such temptation. Like with many state schools, BYU administrators instead talk up how widespread the good they do for church members is and are apologetic that threre’s not room every Mormon kid.

    Steve Sailer wrote about BYU:

    The mainstream Mormon organization in Utah today seem more like a mutual self-help society, sort of a private enterprise Sweden. If you agree to play by their rules, follow their cultural norms, and pay a lot of taxes, excuse me, donations, they’ll round down some of the sharp, competitive corners of modern life for you. The intense and expensive efforts modern Americans make to “insulate, insulate, insulate” their families (as Sherman McCoy’s best friend tells him people who want to raise children in Manhattan must do) are sort of taken care of for you by the Mormon church.

    Of course, that’s why Mormons are so Republican — they’ve built themselves a private welfare state, without most of the moral hazard that goes with government welfare states.

    For example, consider the admissions process to college, which is pretty maniacal for a lot of families these days.

    Yet, the statistics on Brigham Young University don’t look much at all like other universities. These days, colleges are extremely stratified by SAT score, but BYU isn’t like that. The last time I checked (about five years ago), it’s 25th and 75th percentiles of SAT scores were farther apart than just about any other prominent college in the country, meaning that a wide range of kids go there: both the smart Mormon kids and the average Mormon kids. The students at BYU just don’t really care all that much about going to the school with the highest USNWR ranking.

    Nowadays, most kids across the country apply to a lot of colleges and so acceptance rates are very low compared to just a decade ago, but then most colleges’ “yields” (i.e., their admitted applicants’ acceptance of them) have become pretty low, too. In other words, on April 1st the typical brand name college sends out, say, 5,000 acceptances and 20,000 rejection letters, and on May 1 it gets back 2000 acceptances of acceptances and 3000 rejections of acceptances. It’s nerve wracking for all concerned.

    But at BYU, it’s pretty easy to get in. Non-Mormons don’t want to go there, so it’s not that competitive. And yet it’s not a “safety school” — most of the kids who get accepted choose to go there. It’s yield is up there with Annapolis and Columbia and the like.

    And the tuition is cheap. There’s no real magic — they have big class sizes. They just don’t see the need to compete in the USNWR rankings by having smaller classes.

    What BYU sounds like is the old State U. in 1950s Heinlein juvenile novels, where the hero (who is a math genius but nobody has noticed) has just graduated from high school and is working at the malt shop, and when customers ask him what his plans are, he says he really hasn’t made any so he figures he’ll just go to old State U. in September. Pretty low key …

    That’s what UCLA was like when Heinlein went there for a few weeks.

    Of course, nowadays, there are people in Seoul who have been grooming their prodigy child for acceptance at old State U. since birth, so old State U. isn’t at all like old State U. anymore. In 2008, UCLA got 55,000 applications for the freshman class, the most of any college in America, with 45% coming from students with a 4.0 or higher GPA.

    But BYU apparently still is kind of like Heinlein-era UCLA.

  39. “. . . long ago I accepted the fact that once I pay the tithing I lose any say over how the money is spent and trust those who do decide will sincerely try their best-no matter how misguided i personally think some of their decisions are.”

    This. X2. With cherries on top. Oh, and this, too (with minor adjustments):

    “If BYU {must} have a college sports program, {though} I think they should{n’t}, they should be financially independent from any tithing monies.”

  40. BYU states that their athletics programs are independent from any tithing money.

    BYU Athletics
    “How are BYU’s athletic programs financially supported?
    Most of the funding used for BYU’s athletic programs comes from football and men’s basketball ticket sales. Additional funds are obtained through corporate sponsors, the fundraising efforts of the Cougar Club, and private donations. The university does provide a small amount of funding, but no tithing dollars from members of the LDS Church are used to run the athletic programs. ”

    Deseret News, July 2010:
    “BYU athletics are entirely self-supporting, which means that any money spent must be generated through corporate sponsors, radio and television contracts, ticket sales, private donations or money from the conference, said Duff Tittle, associate athletic director. No tithing funds from BYU’s owner, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are used.”


    As a side note, this article says that 22 Division 1 athletic programs were self-sufficient in 2010:


  41. @45, those are interesting observations about BYU, and perhaps those who run BYU really believe what the writer wrote. But, the BYU grads and parents of BYU students I worship with hardly let a Sunday service go by without comments like those above: “selective” “world class” “hard to get into” “highly ranked-insert” “top tier” and so forth. Those people are intensely interested in or very insecure about BYU’s ranking and positiion versus other “peer” schools-insert comical comparison to Stanford, Duke, ACC, Ivy league schools.

    I don’t thiink there’s any question it is a very good school and when one factors in the incredible low cost, it is a real bargain. God bless BYU. May it graduate more realistic and humble students.

  42. I don’t know about BYU, but the article on Division I schools is wrong. 22 schools claimed to be self-sufficient, but it’s only through various accounting tricks. Some athletics do things like borrow from the general fund, then return money to the general fund later, claiming they made money and are actually supporting the college. However, what they return to the fund is always less than what they borrowed, yet the university counts it as being self-sufficient.

    For some reason, no one ever seems interested in this. The few times someone blows the whistle on this, the media just yawns, the universities deny, and everyone else ignores it.

  43. I’ll take Mr. Easterbrook’s crunching of the data over any athletic department’s self serving press release, including BYU’s athletic department.


    I don’t see what is so surprising to learn the BYU athletic department behaves like other major college sports programs. It’s only remarkable b/c they tap into tithing funds to cover their poor managment of the tons of money they already get. Since Mr. Easterbrook’s article, BYU has gone independent and signed a nice deal with ESPN. Let’s hope the guys who mismanged the program are doing better with the new infusion of cash from ESPN and have weened themselves off of tithing money.

  44. Don, if you are still reading this, i am honestly curious: what do you hate more, libertarian twits or Mitt Romney supporting Republican twits? It would seem the latter is much more numerous at BYU.

  45. Let’s just all stop posting on this thread. I graduated from BYU myself, but am beginning to feel JUST A LITTLE self-conscious about the ridiculousness of all (yes, that was an understatement).

  46. @53, perhaps your comment got garbled b/c as I read it, it doesn’t make sense, but I’m a dimwitted ACC school grad. At any rate, as a college basketball fan and a Mormon, I dont mind seeing tiithing money support efforts like yesterday’s BYU basketball game. Augurs well for a nice tournament run for BYU.

  47. Hey, I’m just an old guy with an attitude about BYU, BYUH, Ricks College (now BYUI). I have put three kids and two grandkids through these institutions and now have a granddaughter at BYU Provo. As for me, I graduated from USC, a much more expensive, and wholly secular place to study. All of my BYU grad progeny is united in affirming their delight that they were able to attend Church schools and, of many benefits, the greatest benefit they received was a greatly enhanced testimony. That’s worth far more than any bennie I got from USC. One of my kiddies went to U of U, where she promptly lost her testimony, then she went on to American U in DC where she learned that believing in any religion was anathema. She is still a lost soul, sad to say. IMHO, picking nits about BYU solves nothing. There are poor professors in every college, but in the end, they are shown the door.

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