Readers’ Forum: 7/23/19

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A nonmember’s thoughts on religion classes at BYU

I wasn’t prepared to be the ugly duckling at college. As a non-member attending a university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it’s hard not to feel like an outsider. I will never be able to have a conversation about waking up painfully early for seminary classes or having the biggest crush on the cute boy that one year at EFY.

My first day in The Eternal Family, class started with a hymn and a prayer. Nothing out of the ordinary for most students — but for me? Weird and uncomfortable. Because I’m a part of the 1% of students that aren’t members, every Monday and Wednesday morning, I’m reminded that, deep down, I’m not a part of this community.

Earlier in the year, I was told that I could talk to the BYU Chaplain about religion courses specifically for non-members. My relief was short-lived; after calling the Chaplain, I discovered that BYU stopped providing said classes for non-members a few years ago.

The effort needed to provide a separate religion class for a tiny group of students may seem superfluous, but it will have a profound effect on students who aren’t Church members — on me. While all my peers focus on becoming like our Heavenly Father, I fall behind because I’m not familiar with the principles taught in class. Even though one of BYU’s goals is to “provide a caring environment that facilitates and fosters student success,” you can only ask so many questions about “obvious” topics before you start holding the class back.

While the addition of religion classes for non-members may not affect a large number of students, it will allow us to deepen our studies, give us an opportunity to grow our faith and, maybe, be a part of this community one day, too.

—Lauren Stewart
San Clemente, California

Education for immigrant children

Children all across the world have dreams of having a good education. The United States is a country popularly assumed to be the right place to go to achieve a beneficial education. People from all across the globe see America as the “Land of the Free,” so they desire to have a better life for themselves and their children. This results in immigrants from various portions of the world coming to the United States to live the American dream — specifically, on the borders of Mexico. I believe that children, regardless of their citizenship, should have the right to an education.

My grandparents moved to the United States from Mexico to look for a better life for themselves and their children. Although they came legally, they had to work hard to sustain themselves. Later, they had to come up with a way for their children to go to college. Moving from another country is not easy and preventing children, whether they be an illegal immigrant or not, from receiving a proper education isn’t good.

I believe that immigrant children deserve the right to an education. Being in the younger generation and coming to the point of starting our own families, it is important that we make a change now. I propose to stop seeing illegal immigrant children as criminals and start seeing them as kids who want to start a good life for themselves by using education as a positive resource to be able to reach their dreams.

—Karina Miranda
Las Vegas, Nevada

Credit where credit isn’t due

Imagine what a bright-minded 21-year-old could do with 240 hours and $11,240. This is what every BYU student spends to fulfill their general education courses, begging the question: is it worth it?

As a BYU student, I have had multiple conversations with fellow students about general education courses. We usually agree that 60 credits of non-major courses is excessive. Several majors here require 100 credits or more. Many students, including myself, will take five years to graduate from BYU due to the course load of such rigorous degrees. An extra 60 credits is extremely taxing for students and might impede their success.

I understand there are benefits to requiring courses in all subjects. Many students enter college without declaring a major and need to explore their options. However, this is not the case for everyone. There are thousands of students who took parallel classes in high school, decided on a major before entering college, or are anxious to get a degree as soon as possible. For these students, general classes can be a waste of time and money and keep them from starting careers in their fields.

Remember, the reason for college is to learn. A student’s desire affects how well they learn; when someone wants to learn, they learn at a higher level. When someone is forced to learn something, the learning is less effective. General education courses often force students to be taught what they don’t want to learn, causing minimal learning at a high cost.

I am not saying we should get rid of mandated general courses, but I believe we should decrease the number of required general classes. There is only so much time in one day, and only so much money in a college student’s wallet. Let’s be effective in our use of time and money by having administration reduce the number of general education courses and improve our learning.

—Brayden Wright
Grand Junction, Colorado

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