Readers’ Forum: 11/19/19

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BYU’s struggle with plastic waste management

Plastic straws and utensils are plaguing the world as one-time-use products. They go directly to waste and are almost never recycled. One of the main reasons people use these one-time-use products is because they are often the only option we are presented with. The first time I got food in the Wilk, I realized I didn’t have any utensils with me and was forced to use a plastic fork. BYU needs to provide metal utensils because we have a responsibility to think of the planet we live on.

I believe there is something each of us can do to help the environment. From 2000-2010, we generated more plastic waste than in the entire 20th century. It is easy not to consider where your trash may be going or convince yourself that one spoon won’t hurt anything, but if every student threw away one spoon a day for one year, around 8 million plastic spoons would be wasted. All of that damaging waste will pile up until BYU decides to switch to the metal alternative.

Our attitude and mindset towards these plastics can change from focusing on our personal needs to looking outward on what the environment needs. Changing the norm may be a hard adjustment at first, but once BYU establishes the metal substitute, reducing plastic waste will be effective and long lasting. Our mindset should be to “just say no!” Refusing plastic and incorporating metal will cut down our plastic waste, and overall help BYU make the world a better place.

—Ben Keeney
Portland, Oregon

Educated women, mothers and wives: ‘At home and abroad’

Women as co-providers and nurturers of the family need to obtain a higher education.
Women can empower each other to achieve goals and dreams, but we sometimes put our dreams on hold for other worthy causes, such as starting a family. Mothering is important but shouldn’t be our only pursuit. Overall, women need to be more committed to education.

Women need a higher education to fulfill the sacred responsibility to nurture, rear and
teach their children in all aspects of life. We are instructed in the scriptures to learn “of things of both heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad.” We must take upon ourselves the responsibility of cultivating both spiritual and temporal knowledge. If not, we cannot educate our children.

Education also helps provide for our physical needs. Statistics show that children who
are raised in a home where the mother has a higher education are more likely to pursue
advanced education. According to researchers at our university, “Higher levels of maternal education are positively associated with many different academic outcomes for children throughout development.” Even before a child enters school, research shows “higher maternal education has been associated with more advanced spontaneous language production.”

Education is a framework for helping our familial, societal and personal wellbeing. If you are considering dropping out of school or don’t think education matters, think twice about the consequences that could have for your family. Without educated women, our society, economy and families will falter.

—Caroline Hyland
Cottonwood Heights, Utah

Feeding babies in bathrooms: a lack of accommodation for student mothers

There seems to be a cultural push at BYU to get married and have babies. Both of these
things are wonderful, but until you actually experience having babies while still a student at BYU, you don’t really realize BYU is not actually a very young-family-friendly school. There are many examples: the difficulty of traversing campus with its many stairs while pushing a stroller, the lack of parking close to campus for parents with young children or the fact that some professors tell you even though you have tried to find someone to watch your baby while you are in class and can’t, you will just have to figure something out. However, the most frustrating aspect of being a mother while still in school are the lack of places to feed your child.

I cannot tell you how many times I have had to feed my baby while standing upright in
the disability stall in a bathroom because there was nowhere else to feed her. There are a few limited places, but most of them are a single room for only one mother to feed her child at a time. This means that if you need to quickly feed your child between classes and someone else is feeding their baby, you have to choose between nursing in a bathroom stall or enduring the glares and gawks as you try to feed your baby as discretely as possible in a corner of some remote hallway, most of the time without a chair. Not every building has a place to feed babies, and there isn’t always time to run to one of the few mothers’ rooms while praying that someone else isn’t in it.

There are so many wonderful aspects of being a student at BYU. However, it is frustrating that even though BYU is a Church school, and in the Church we believe that the family is the most important unit of society, BYU is not accommodating to mothers who are trying to finish their degrees while raising a family.

—Cambria Gang
Moscow, Idaho

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