Class Struggle

In its ongoing attempt to provide an education that will be useful and practical in terms of day-to-day living, BYU has recently added several new courses to its catalog. Since “Snide Remarks” is, at its heart, a public service column — it recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, for example — I thought I’d share some of these new classes with you.

Sociology 366: “The Self-Righteous Stare.” Teaches the right time to give fellow students BYU’s patented Self-Righteous Stare: upon seeing someone purchase caffeine, upon seeing a man with facial hair, upon hearing someone admit to having seen an R-rated movie, etc. Emphasizes that prior to giving the Stare, one must already feel superior. Prerequisite: Sociology 365, “How to Feel Superior.”

P.E. 129: “Register for This Class, Get an ‘A,’ and Forget About P.E. for the Rest of Your Life.” Emphasizes the need to register for a P.E. class. Discusses various methods of registering: e.g., over the phone, with an add/drop card, etc. Attendance, studying and/or learning not required. Prerequisite: You must have a name.

Statistics 221.5: “Forgetting Everything You Learned in Statistics 221.” Once students have spent an entire semester going to Statistics 221 nine hours a week, plus doing another 10 hours of homework, it becomes necessary to take this course, designed to help students purge the frivolous and unnecessary statistics information from their brains so they can go back to thinking about other things. Focus is on talking to friends, going on dates, and watching TV. Failure to take this course may result in that useless information staying in students’ brains forever, which may result in students obtaining the only job in which a knowledge of statistics is helpful: that of a statistics teacher.

Sociology 182: “Freshman Behavior.” For beginning BYU students, this course discusses how to behave in such a way as to let everyone know that you are a freshman. Topics include: wearing high school letterman jackets, going to Garrens shows, going to Homecoming dances, walking around the library with those headphones as you take the “library tour,” wearing shorts in the winter, quoting Monty Python sketches. Prerequisite: high school, or its equivalent.

English 201: “Old, Boring Literature.” Stories and poems written several thousand years ago, featuring themes and characters so archaic one wonders if indeed they were even written by human beings. Several papers required, all of which must be at least as boring as the texts they analyze. Any ancient literature which may prove to be interesting or valuable will be skipped. Prerequisite: English 115, “How to Read.”

American Heritage 100: “What, You Didn’t Pass the A.P. Test in High School?” Focuses on things about American history that you already knew.

Theater & Media Arts 109: “Being a Theater Person.” For theater majors only. Discusses how to make every-day events such as not finding a parking space seem melodramatic; how to walk around the HFAC reciting lines and/or singing songs at full voice, hoping people will notice you; how to avoid taking any non-theater classes; how to determine the fine line between looking “cool” as you wear only thrift-store clothes, and looking “poor” as you wear only thrift-store clothes; and how to convince your spouse that he or she should get a regular job and support you because you refuse to do anything other than act for a living. Prerequisite: Theater & Media Arts 108, “Getting Attention.”

Theater & Media Arts 201: “Quoting Movies.” Helps students put lines from “Princess Bride” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” into their everyday vocabulary, thus enabling them to converse with other BYU students. Films such as “Tommy Boy” and the “Star Wars” trilogy are also discussed. Includes a unit on the proper time to say “Inconceivable!” with a lisp, and the ongoing debate over whether they are the Knights Who Say “Neek!” or the Knights Who Say “Nee!” Prerequisite: Communications 203, “Thinking You’re Funny Just Because You Say Something That Was Funny in a Movie.”

Communications 313: “Writing for The Daily Universe.” Explains how to write for the campus newspaper. Includes various incorrect spellings of the prophet’s name (Hinkley, Hincley, Hinkcley, Benson) for use in headlines; tips on how to write front-page “teasers” that in no way resemble the stories they are teasing; methods of making photos blurry; and guidelines on placement of stories (death of Mother Teresa: page 14. “Internet” becoming popular: page 1). Prerequisite: basic knowledge of the English alphabet (may be waived).

Non-BYU students won't care much for this column, but that's OK. It's something I'd wanted to do for a long time, and I'm glad I did it before "Snide Remarks" ended. Vented here are many of the frustrations my fellow students and I had with specific classes, and classes in general, and with BYU life.

Of course I had to make sure to ridicule The Daily Universe, too, so people would realize I was an equal opportunity mocker. A behind-the-scenes bit of trivia: The example of poor story placement -- Mother Teresa on page 14; a fluff piece on the Internet on page 1 -- ACTUALLY HAPPENED in The Daily Universe on Sept. 8, 1997. It's a real example from a real issue of the paper. Mother Teresa had died on Friday, and it was decided that since she died over the weekend, the story wouldn't deserve page-one treatment by Monday -- it would be old news. There was some validity to this point of view, except for one thing: Just a week earlier, Princess Diana had died over the weekend, and yet had still been plastered all over page one on Monday, and for several days after. I was pretty disgusted with the decision to put Mother Teresa on the back page, but I was in no position to argue in those days.

The first item, "The Self-Righteous Stare," was originally set as a religion class, because it is usually for religious reasons that people give The Stare. However, I changed it because I didn't want to imply that I think the LDS religion actually TEACHES people to be self-righteous as part of its doctrine. I certainly don't think that. People kind of take it upon themselves to look down on others; they don't need the church to teach it to them.

And by the way, I've seen the script: The knights were saying "nee." So there. I can't believe anyone ever argued about it.