GRADUATION!! (Grad School)

Wednesday, February 29


Class was cancelled today and so this morning I sat in the library trying to complete my homework. Since I was reading documents about slavery I was completely engrossed and therefore have been oblivious to those around me. Sadly, that is normal for me. But a few minutes ago the student next to me sneezed. I immediately raised my head to say bless you. It is a habit that I refuse to break. But as I raised my head, and saw the person I stumbled over my own thoughts.

It was just one of those thoughts that whips through your head in the blink of an eye. I had heard the sneeze and assumed the student who had sneezed was a girl. I don't know why, but in my head it sounded feminine. So when I raised my head and saw the person my thoughts stalled. You couldn't tell the gender of the person sitting across form me. It threw me for a minute. Not that it changed my actions in anyway, but in my head I was trying to place a label on this stranger.

It took just a few seconds for all of these thoughts to go through my mind but it changed my whole focus this morning. As I tried to place this stranger, I stopped and wondered why it was necessary. My actions would not change due to a difference in gender. They should not change, to me that is what affirmative action and the various right's movements were all about. It is not that we are colored or gender blind. It is that these things should not provide a label for an individual. Our actions should be dependent upon the individual we are conversing with, not with the color of their skin, their religion, their sexual preference, or their gender.

Yet, as I stuttered this morning, I realized that we all use these labels to define the world around us. People can define me as a single, white, Mormon. Yet that doesn't tell my whole story. We must learn to see the world as individuals that are making choices according to their circumstances, not according to the labels that society assigns.

I am not saying that the labels are always wrong. Stereotypes are there for a reason. BUT we must step away from the thought that we can define the world by labels. One step away from that takes us a step closer to accepting people for who they are and helping them to become who they want to be.

Yes, I sound naive. This doesn't mean that I am going to trust the scary guy who is lurking in the parking lot at the end of my shift. But it does mean that I wouldn't trust the scary girl either.
What it really means, is that I am going to try to stop trying to fit everyone in a category of society. If I don't fit into a category, why would I expect anyone else to?

Thursday, February 16

Not my usual style...

I don't usually rant about things that irritate me on my blog. But this came to my attention today and it has really gotten under my skin. So the 4 people who actually read my blog are going to have to suffer through my rant.

A picture ended up on Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday that has upset. ( I have added the link for the note and picture from the sites here and here.)
A young woman was studying on campus at BYU (Brigham Young University) and was approached by a young man. Since it was Valentine's Day she assumed the letter he handed her was some sort of love note... (Now everyone thinks "Awww Sweet") Instead what she actually received was this:

For those that can't read the tiny print let me type it out for you:
You may want to consider that what you're wearing has a negative effect on meant (and women) around you. Many people come to this university because they feel safe, morally as well as physically, here. They expect others to abide by the Honor Code that we all agreed on. Please consider your commitment to the Honor Code (which you agreed to) when dressing each day.  

Now you might not know what BYU's honor code is. BYU is an LDS (Latter-Day Saint or Mormon) University. All students that attend, both LDS and non-LDS sign an agreement that they will conduct themselves in a certain manner both on and off campus. Essentially they agree to live the standards of the LDS faith.

According to the BYU website the honor code states:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. . . . If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things (Thirteenth Article of Faith).
As a matter of personal commitment, faculty, administration, staff, and students of Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University—Hawaii, Brigham Young University—Idaho, and LDS Business College seek to demonstrate in daily living on and off campus those moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and will
  • Be honest 
  • Live a chaste and virtuous life 
  • Obey the law and all campus policies 
  • Use clean language 
  • Respect others 
  • Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse 
  • Participate regularly in church services 
  • Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards 
  • Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code
Specific policies embodied in the Honor Code include (1) the Academic Honesty Policy, (2) the Dress and Grooming Standards, (3) the Residential Living Standards, and (4) the Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement. (Refer to institutional policies for more detailed information.

So now I know you are all dying to see what she was wearing right?  What outfit was so trashy that some young man felt the need to approach this woman?

Yes, this young women was wearing a dress, leggings, boots, and a long sleeve sweater. According to the young man that saw her this was immodest.

After seeing this, I again went to the BYU website to see what was specifically stated about dress and Grooming for women. I understand that in the real world, i.e. the workforce, there is often a dress code that one must follow, so I am not arguing that one should be included in the honor code. I was just trying to understand what in this outfit broke that code.

Using the same link as above I scrolled down to dress and grooming and this is what it said:
The dress and grooming of both men and women should always be modest, neat, and clean, consistent with the dignity adherent to representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and any of its institutions of higher education
Reading further you find these specifics for women:
A clean and well-cared-for appearance should be maintained. Clothing is inappropriate when it is sleeveless, strapless, backless, or revealing; has slits above the knee; or is form fitting. Dresses, skirts, and shorts must be knee-length or longer. Hairstyles should be clean and neat, avoiding extremes in styles or colors. Excessive ear piercing (more than one per ear) and all other body piercing are not acceptable. Shoes should be worn in all public campus areas.
With that in mind I went back to her picture. The outfit is neither sleeveless, strapless, backless or revealing. The skirt is short yes, but the leggings are more like pants and, though they are form fitting, she is still covered and therefore not inappropriate in my mind. As a matter of fact, in contrast to what the young man wrote in his note, it is obvious that this young lady put thought and effort into this outfit so she could present a "clean and well-cared for appearance" when she got ready for the day.

Now, I must admit, I looked for rules on leggings specifically. I think that might be the only part of this outfit that might not jive with the dress code. Only because they could be considered form fitting. But there was no specific reference to tight jeans or leggings on the website. According to a Fox News report, jeggings were considered okay for dress code, so why not leggings. Either way, I can't make a firm statement on that.

So now you wonder why I am ranting....  I can't even say whether she is following dress code or not. Why does this bother me? My issue is because some young man decided to take it upon himself to make a young woman feel bad about herself. She obviously put effort into her outfit and this young man felt it necessary to question not only her ability to honor her commitments, but also her modesty and morality. To top it off, he did so in the name of his religion. Regardless of what the woman was wearing, that doesn't fly with me.

I am one of those life long members of the LDS Church. Born and raised, I have even spent quite a few years here in the Happy Valley of Provo, Utah. No where in my religion does it say that I am supposed to guilt others into making right choices. No where does it say that I should approach a stranger and make them feel bad about themselves. I mean really. What part of the teachings of our Savior did this guy read. Everywhere in our gospel it tells us that we should love those around us and treat them kindly.

We are also taught that the trial here on earth is one based on freedom of choice. As a matter of fact, the entire gospel planned is based on that. We chose to follow the Savior because we rejected Lucifer's plan to force us all to obey. Therefore not only are we free to make our own choices but we have to respect the choices of others. Each individual gets to make his or her own choices and either suffer the consequences or enjoy the benefits of that choice.

Therefore, in my eyes this young man broke both of those rules. He decided that it was his responsibility to make this young woman feel bad about herself and her choices by implying that she was rejecting the teachings she had been taught. Then he takes it one step further and questions her honor and ethics. Because he assumed that she was breaking the honor code.

I looked into what is to be done if there is an honor code violation, there is an entire office at the university that takes complaints about such things. If he had an issue, why didn't he send it to them. If there was a problem with her outfit, wouldn't it be the responsibility of a faculty member or an employee of the university to discuss it with this young lady? It is not the responsibility of some guy who doesn't know her from Eve.

Now, taking this one step farther, I have personal experience with this type of young man. I attend a neighboring university here in Provo. Though Utah Valley University is in the same area, as a state school it does not have an honor code. Therefore, there is no dress code (though I think you have to be dressed.) and there are no grooming standards. I have had a green streak in my hair for the past several months. Tonight I change it to purple. This is not a problem at my university.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to the BYU campus to attend a lecture thingy for students who wish to get their Masters in Library Science. Neither BYU nor UVU offers this program, but there were outlining the different ways in which we could find the program. I thought, it wouldn't be a big deal, I was only going to be on BYU campus for a couple of hours.  As I sat in on the lecture, the young man behind me leaned forward to tell me that we are only to have "natural colors" in our hair. I responded that 1) I wasn't a student at BYU and therefore I didn't have to abide by that rule and 2) Why would he think it was his responsibility to reproach me. He was neither my father, nor my ecclesiastical leader. (Okay I really should have said that second part but I didn't think of it till later).

I don't understand why we live in a society in which strangers take it upon themselves to correct others. Why would they think a stranger would value their opinion? Why would they assume that they know what is best for the other person. A person THEY HAVE NEVER MET! It saddens me to see that this exists in our culture. I know it isn't a large part of the Mormon culture, but it can be found and that upsets me.

Whew... that was kinda long.

Wednesday, February 15

Two weeks and nothing....

Two weeks have gone by since my last post but I don't have any thing significant to write. School days come and go.... there are assignments and lectures, films to watch and papers to edit. Life is just rolling along. Other than the slight (or not so slight) anxiety that I am experiencing as deadlines begin to loom.... I think I am okay.

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

Well there might be moments that I am not actually okay, but I get through those in the same way. So here's to meeting deadlines.


Wednesday, February 1

Toot your own horn?

I am not a genius. This is not a shock to anyone who knows me. As much as I adore Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory or Zach Addy from Bones, there is very little possibility that I could match them in the intelligence arena. Not that I want to try... that is not what this post is about. This is also not an attempt to call myself stupid in any manner. For.....
I am not stupid. I might not be a 4.0 student but I get more A’s than B’s and that is good enough for me.... and apparently for the schools which I am applying to. :) I would also term myself as street smart. I might not be able to recite all of the battles in the civil war or all of the vice presidents and their terms, but I am able to understand and discuss the importance of historical events on current society. I can read and analyze a text, be it literature or historical, for the same reasons. In my world I like to study those things that have had an impact on a society, i don’t have to commit them to memory as long as I have the text and my subsequent notes available to review. 
There are many more things that I am not.... but I have veered from the path that this blog was supposed to take. One would think with my talents and experience writing a statement of purpose, or personal statement wouldn’t be difficult. (And yes, those are 2 different things) Yet here I sit, for day 2, trying to come up with something that makes me sound neither pompous nor moronic. I have the same problem typing up a CV or a Resume (again 2 different things). This idea that boasting about yourself or selling yourself is slightly repugnant to me. It is a part of me that I feel would fit more comfortably in the society that surrounded the Founding Fathers of the United States. Back in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century America, a man or woman’s good name should precede them. One wouldn’t have to talk about their good deeds because others would have already passed the information on. It was considered indelicate to campaign for a position or talk about yourself in that way. The humility that is preached in my religion also seems at odds with this need to boast to get a job or into a grad program. 
This is not to say that I never talk about myself....I often get really excited about things and I will call a friend who will think it  is cool or they might not and they suffer through my gushing....or well.... this blog is proof..... I have done plenty of boasting. But most of that is piddly stuff. I got excited when I got asked to help with the candidates that are coming to campus for interviews (I organized the students) or when I was invited to a recruiting dinner to talk to prospective students. But that is not stuff that you put on a resume or in a personal statement. Those are just perks for being so annoyingly persistent in my position as Editor-in-Chief of the History journal. I am now a face that is known around the department.  
So what do I say? 
how do I say it? 
Those are the big questions. 
Well at least the big questions for now.