As a second-year graduate student, I was happy to read the Sept. 2 article on page seven about the 2nd Annual Evening for New Graduate Students, sponsored (I believe) by the Office of Graduate Studies. I participated in the dinner and accompanying information fair last year. At the time, I knew I was starting a program at a university that focuses on undergraduate education, but that evening I felt welcomed, informed, respected and included.
Unfortunately, I saw that article just after I read page six. Most of the text on that page was devoted to describing BYU students and BYU admission policies, and once again, it not only didn’t focus on graduate students, which would have been understandable, it completely excluded them. The graphic “Who is admitted to BYU?” included various types of students for a (rounded) total of 29,000. None of the categories included graduate students, and the total number of students itself excluded them (and me) as well. The accompanying article described the admissions process, which was interesting, but nowhere did it explicitly note that this was the “undergraduate” admissions process, much less that it did not explain the whole of the university population.
Perhaps this wouldn’t have bothered me if it weren’t so common. For instance, last year the 100-Hour Board (the message board) in the WSC responded to someone’s question about marriage statistics by class. It included the total BYU married/non-married numbers, apologized for not being able to exclude graduate students from that number, and gave the undergraduate class breakdown. Not only did my curiousity about graduate student numbers remain unaddressed, it seemed clear that this service was for undergraduates only.
I did enjoy last year’s welcome dinner and was glad to see that President Bateman spoke at this year’s dinner. I want to make it clear that I have no problems with BYU administrators or faculty, and I am happy with the newer administrative policies that make it easier to have some benefits of a BYU education without compromising the priorities of graduate school.
But after examples like those above, as well as various BYU-wide talks that spoke only to undergraduates, my original feeling of being included is effectively gone. Graduate students are a minority (last year there were 29,460 undergraduate students and 2,742 full-time graduate and part-time day students), but a unique one that helps make this university better. With the demographics above, I don’t expect the Daily Universe or other general campus services to focus on graduate students at the expense of undergraduates. I would, however, like at least to be recognized as part of the community.