This post was written by Holly Boud, HC intern
Here I am, sitting on a stool in my kitchen in my run-down Orem apartment eating turkey bacon (God’s gift to mankind). The door of my room hangs unevenly on its hinges. My light is broken. My toilet bowl has a hard water ring that I have never been able to scrub off. The lighting is dim, making the bleak January nights in Utah even more dismal. But I am happy. Why? No, despite the cliches of what brings happiness, I am not dating anyone. No, I have not come into any significant sum of money (quite the opposite). I am happy as I contemplate the experience I am having in my time at BYU. The people I have met, both students and faculty, have changed my life, and the memories I have made with these people fill my heart with unaccountable joy, given some of the less luxurious aspects of my life. As I think about these relationships though, it worries me that in regards to the faculty members, students don’t see these amazing human beings aren’t seen in the proper light.
At BYU, the faculty (I am thinking the Humanities College faculty, but it applies widely across campus) works under a special and peculiar mandate that demands more of them than most professors at most other institutions. Let me illustrate. Not only are faculty members supposed to be teaching survey classes, major classes, general education classes, and even masters seminars; publishing articles, literature and book reviews, critical editions, etc.; attending conferences, joining and participating on university/service/graduate/you-name-it committees, giving lectures, mentoring students, AND forwarding their own research in their own disciplines, all of which is part and parcel of being an academic (I have not even mentioned extra-curricular activities that help make us more normal, well-rounded, and interesting humans), but they are also members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That means that these faculty members by and large have families. Some of the women are even endowed with almost incomprehensible additional superpowers and are mothers! Probably with more than one kid. And they go to church. And have church callings which demand determined and invaluable investments of unpaid hours and energy.
With all of these demands that would make nearly anyone out to be a superhero human/renaissance woman or man, there is a general tendency to believe that a professor (full-time or adjunct), graduate instructor, secretary, or another faculty member’s life revolves around the needs, demands, and problems of the student. I have heard of many stories (and have experienced several myself) of entitled students energetically demanding of their professors to bend over backwards to accommodate their problems/life decisions/extemporaneous situations. There is no need for the kind of panicked tone that so often accompanies emails at the beginning (add/drop deadline), middle (midterms), and end (finals) of the semester.
Something that has been impressed on my mind over and over again in the last couple of weeks is the necessity to create boundaries. This certainly applies to being a successful and happy student, but I have seen it most at play recently as I have contemplated my role as a member of the under-appreciated, over-worked, yet passionate and persevering faculty of BYU.
Students, let’s all just take a minute and appreciate everything that our professors and the rest of the BYU faculty have done and are doing for us. Let’s be adults and combat our problems maturely and treat people within the educational system like human beings with responsibilities, cares, and interests of their own. Let’s, as instructors, remember to set boundaries for our happiness and our sanity. Let’s remember that the further we bend over to accommodate all that our students come at us with, the more likely we will break and become incapable of reacting with compassion, kindness, and understanding. Let’s not stretch ourselves as thin as the world would pull us. So to all those hard-working, dedicated, compassionate mothers, teachers, committee members, secretaries, writers, mentors, coordinators, disciples of Jesus Christ, all of the above, and, in my very best impression of Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Jay Gatsby, I raise my glass (of water or some other non-alcoholic drink) to you.