Students enjoy perks of parents working on campus

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BYU marketing professor Michael Swenson with his son Ben, a BYU student. (Ari Davis)

College is the first step into adulthood for many students.

It’s the first time to move away from home, live without parents, do their own laundry and make their own food. However, the college experience might be different for students whose parents work at the university they go to.

Abi Dorff, a BYU sophomore majoring in athletic training, already had an idea of what it was going to be like even before she started college since her three older sisters had already cut the path for her.

Both of Abi’s parents work on campus. Her father, Michael, teaches calculus at BYU. Abi’s mother, Sarah, is an administrative assistant for STEM research development.

Abi said, so far, she enjoys having her parents work on campus.

“It’s really nice and convenient to have them there when I need them,” she said.

For others, such as BYU student Ben Swenson, campus life isn’t affected much by having a parent on campus because he doesn’t see his dad at school very much.

“(My dad) understands that it is important for me to be independent and so he does not try to parent me or be overbearing in my college life, but he is always willing and happy to give me advice and counsel when I ask him,” Ben said.

His father, Michael Swenson, teaches marketing management at the Marriott School of Business.

Ben said his dad is especially good at giving him advice with school. “The university is his professional field and he’s been teaching for over 20 years,” he said. “So he knows the ins and outs of how to be successful as a student.”

BYU students whose parents work at the university can enjoy a few other perks that are unavailable to other students, such as half tuition. One of those perks for Ben is having access to his dad’s office.

“He lets me use his office in the Tanner Building as a personal study area when I need it. I can also print things there as well,” he said.

Abi’s bonus to her college experience is saving money on food.

“(My parents) will sometimes take me out to lunch, and if they have a meeting that is catered, they let me know and I get free food all the time,” she said.

However, some students find their social interactions with others are affected, positively and negatively, by the fact that their parents work at BYU. Former BYU student Aly LaComb said having her dad as a BYU men’s basketball coach affected her personal relationships with both students and other faculty members.

“Some people wanted to be my best friend after they found out my dad coaches and they would constantly ask for tickets or hook ups,” LaComb said.

Free food, free printing, a personal study area and a half-tuition charge cover many of a student’s basic needs. Only one more thing could make the list better: a parking spot available at all times.

But Abi said she can’t park in “A” parking. “Unless I am driving one of their cars, because you can only have so many cars registered,” she said.

Most students whose parents work at BYU are still finding that it is a positive experience rather than a negative one.

“There are benefits to having (my dad) teach here, and there are no big negative effects,” Ben said.

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