It’s pretty late, and I’m in no mood to write a snappy introduction, so you’ll have to bear with me.
I was going through my mail a few minutes ago when I came across a letter from the Office of Student Housing, here at good ol’ BYU. I live in Deseret Towers (motto: “Offering the Convenience of Two Elevators, One of Which is Always Broken”), so I’m always getting letters from the Office of Student Housing. They’re usually asking me if I want to live here next semester (I don’t), or if I have suggestions about how to make things better (fix the elevator), or if I intend to come back to DT after my mission (no, sorry, I have a life).
But the letter I just got was not this kind of friendly, chatty, form letter. No sir, this was a personalized Letter of Wrath. Apparently, my account is $206 overdue, and, oddly enough, they would like me to pay it.
Lest you think I am a deadbeat, I should point out that this is all due to a mistake on the part of the National Elks Lodge. They somehow got it into their heads to pay for my college education, goodness knows why, but they have neglected to send one of the major chunks of cash.
Those wacky Elks.
The Office of Student Housing should know this by now, since my personal advisor (i.e., my mother) and I have discussed it with them in the past, but they seem to have forgotten now, judging by this letter.
I quote: “If our office does not receive payment…by February 2nd, your eating privileges will be stopped.” Note it does not say that if I don’t pay by February 2, I will no longer be able to eat at the Morris Center cafeteria, where DT resident eat. No sir, it says I will not be able to eat AT ALL. Period. My eating privileges will be stopped. I guess the Office of Student Housing is more powerful than I thought. Perhaps they will send my picture to all the restaurants in the area, tagged with the warning, “Do not give this person any food. He did not pay his housing bill.”
The second paragraph is the part that made me mad, though: “Also, please be aware that failure to pay your debts to the University when due is considered a violation of the Honor Code.”
OH NO! NOT THE HONOR CODE! I DON’T WANT TO BREAK THE HONOR CODE!
Do they really think that this snotty, condescending little bit of self-righteous tripe is going to inspire me to pay my bill faster? Do they think that I sit up here in my dorm room and horde immense piles of freshly minted cash, perhaps keeping it hidden in my rock-hard DT pillow (which would be a good place, since I can’t sleep on it anyway), and that I was just going to keep it all for myself until they mentioned that in so doing, I would be breaking the Honor Code?
I’m going to bed now. I’ll sleep easier, knowing that the Office of Student Housing not only thinks I’ve broken the Honor Code, but also thinks I care. And it’s all the fault of some 50-year-old guy in an Elks hat named Ralph. Such delicious irony.
(Eric D. Snider is a BYU freshman from Lake Elsinore, California, and this whole ugly mess should be cleared up by the time you read this, but you can still feel free to send him money if you want to.)
This column is a perfect example of having something good to say but screwing it up.
My point was that the letter I got really WAS condescending, reminding me ever-so-smugly that not paying my bill was a violation of the Honor Code. Honestly, if someone is PURPOSELY not paying his bill -- he has the money and just chooses not to send it in -- then do they really think that the mere mention of "Honor Code Violation" will make him become racked with guilt? I think people who willfully refuse to pay bills have consciences that are not affected by the Honor Code. Why not mention that it's a felony? Or that they could be sued? Is the Honor Code really a bigger threat?
See my point? Yeah, I can say it clearly now. But at the time, I just came across as cynical. By putting in all the unnecessarily snide comments about DT being for losers, and the rock-hard pillow, and what-not, I shot myself in the foot. The column is too reactionary, too rebellious, too snotty, too much like the garbage they tend to print in the once-great-but-now-a-parody-of-itself "Student Review." I'm embarrassed by this column.
Not helping this embarrassment is the letter I received, which, like the column itself, makes a good point but makes it in a poor way.
Obviously 'On the Light Side' is meant to bring out a laugh from most anyone ... it's just that teen-age humor is way above me. Take for instance the column of Feb. 6. Setting aside the probability that Snider was pressed for a deadline and that he is probably some editor's relative, I think that his comments are not atypical of many students.
While dozens of students I know personally would like to go to BYU, Snider lives in a dorm which is below his worthy dignity, can't sleep on the hard pillow provided, laughs at the silly folks who would expect him to take the Honor Code seriously, and resent "some 50-year-old guy in an Elk hat" who, by the way, is paying all his bills. I wasn't sure if he resented Ralph because he was 50, because he was an Elk, or if he was just hoping for a laugh. (Do Elks wear hats?)
Snider does not want to go on a mission and/or return to Deseret Towers because, 'No thanks, I have a life.' Isn't that cute! I'm happy he has a life and I hope he lives it somewhere else. [So do I.] That will let someone who wants to study and not write 'cutesy' freshman journalism take his place.
Just a thought from those of us who pay for most of his education ... that part the Elks don't pay for.
As I said, this man has a point. I've already admitted to being too snotty and cutesy in this column. However, he goes too far himself in a few ways.
First of all, he says that I do not want to go on a mission and/or return to DT. I never said anything about not going on a mission; going on a mission is sort of a foregone conclusion in the column. I merely said that I didn't want to live in DT after my mission. Roger Porter's implication is unfair and unwarranted.
Also, his last sentence refers to the fact that LDS Church tithing dollars are used to pay for most BYU expenses -- that's why tuition is so cheap, and why non-Mormons (who of course don't pay tithing to the LDS Church) pay a slightly higher rate than Mormons. Roger Porter is bringing up the stupid old argument that since he pays tithing, he is paying for at least part of my education, and therefore has some say in what goes on at BYU. Many, many people who complain about things at BYU do so with this justification, as if paying tithing somehow grants them a chair on the Board of Trustees.
Roger Porter forgets, apparently, that 1) he is only one guy in a sea of millions who pay tithing to the Church and are subsidizing my education, and most of the others haven't complained about me, and 2) I pay tithing, too, and I say I can stay. My vote on the Board of Trustees must count for at least as much as his does.