2010/02 – comment on BYU’s $4,000 deposit required of foreigners

Well, I tried posting this on Facebook, but it wouldn’t post.
Hm.  I wonder why this isn’t posting…  Try again…
Most of my opinions have already been stated…
I’m not foreign, but given a vote, I’d vote against this policy because it falls against those with less ability to answer it.  I concur with that vengeful professor on the main page that this requirement will diminish international enrollment, and I think that’s an unhealthy outcome for the school and the student body.  I seem to notice a consensus here that, even if the policy is enacted, it should not only be directed at one small group of students.
The policy apparently doesn’t increase BYU revenue in any way, and is only a cushion against liability.  I would ask BYU whether defaulting international students comprising somewhere around 6% of the student body ACTUALLY cost the school any more than defaulting intranationals.
Maybe they do; I don’t have the figures.  If BYU is married to this policy and wants to soften its sting, maybe BYU should numerically demonstrate exactly how they cost more, instead of just handing down a heavy burden with a smile, all the while the international student office still claiming to be "enhancing the international scope" of the school and "celebrating the diversity" that it now stands poised to curtail.
If the policy is intentioned to only increase financial security of individuals, why should that benefit be withheld from local students?  Put the requirement on all of us, and bless all our lives upon graduation.  (But that would suddenly start to seem impractical, wouldn’t it?  Obviously, if such a hefty obligation came on ALL students, BYU enrollment would plummet; enrollment requirements would have to drop very low to compensate; and BYU would lose much of its competitiveness across the board.  Then how, in fact, is this policy a benefit, when it’s a too dangerous benefit to be shared with the majority?)
BYU should also consider that a fair proportion of its students, me included, come here for programs that directly involve and necessitate a substantial international presence on the campus.  For us, 6% foreigners is already an uncomfortably low amount.
All this stated, I don’t think the policy would kill the school, exactly.  Yes, a great many of my friends here wouldn’t be here if this requirement had been in place earlier — but I’d have other, richer friends, while I’d still be poor and living semester to semester, like most of the other local students — like most students in America.  The fact is, American students aren’t required to show all their funds up front, and very few of their tuition fee plans include a giant $4,000 cushion.  For that reason, this policy is very unfair — although in the end, neither local nor foreign students will have spent any more money.  For all I know, it’s a government demand that schools afflict foreigners in this way.
The deeper resentment of most people here is not with this policy itself, but with the structural problems of our society: that a good college education is becoming out of reach for all but the affluent.  Unfortunately for everybody, that is the case.  This very problem motivated Church leaders to create the PEF.  Here, BYU has the chance to continue to alleviate this difficulty by keeping its softer-handed financing, or to go the way of LDSBC and exacerbate it.  Avoiding this change wouldn’t really solve anything itself; that would require grander schemes like expansion and budget overhauls.  But it would help instead of hurt; and unless it’s absolutely necessary, whyever would BYU choose the hurtful option?  Show us, then, BYU, why the hurt is necessary.
I close with 3 Nephi 6:12-14.  I trust any readers here can search it.
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2 Responses to 2010/02 – comment on BYU’s $4,000 deposit required of foreigners

  1. Steve says:

    Well, I just went and asked for details at the international office, which refered me up to a dean’s office (Sarah Westerberg, herself of foreign descent). She gave me a nice talking-to. I came back and posted another thing successfully on that page.

    One point I was cleared up on was that BYU isn’t doing this for its own benefit at all, but 1) to “help” the students, protect them from themselves, and 2) to ease the drain on local bishops. …Possibly also to conserve some of their scholarship funds. But BYU loses no money directly when students default. And beside that, the policy doesn’t come on any new impetus from the government, any more than already exists with the federal requirements for sufficient funds to study.

    Again, we see paternalistic, Democrat-like socialism from BYU — helping people for their own good, against their wishes. The first example was with mandated health insurance. Funny.

  2. Steve says:

    On second thought, the honour code itself is paternalistic; but we rejoice in it, because with most of those principles, no possible good can come from breaking them. I admit that this seemingly amoral financial policy might have a moral element involving preparedness. If it isn’t moral, it becomes arbitrary, and BYU would be foolish to expect students to accept it, especially when it poses new difficulty for them. But if it IS found a moral issue, BYU is all the wronger for not applying that morality to local students. We see two distinct motivations leading to opposite results: students should not be unnecessarily burdened financially, and so local students DO NOT need to deposit large sums in advance; and students should be prepared for their own safety, and so non-local students DO need to deposit those large sums.

    The answer would be, “With international students, financial trouble ‘hurts more’, so they need more protection from it. That’s why there are two moral standards here.” In a way, it’s akin to demanding that girls make sane reproductive decisions, but not boys, because girls are ‘hurt more’ when they go astray (but for the fact that local students don’t actually contribute to the woes of foreign students). Anyway, if God doesn’t play favourites by allowing more sin from his own, but hates even the “least degree” of sin, then why does BYU think it should allow unpreparedness from locals, just because the consequences are less? Well…It becomes a very deep doctrinal statement on the question of what constitutes “sin”; and BYU is deciding, as I have done before, that “sin” is entirely contained in “bad consequences” — that no abstract principle means anything, except as it can be translated into concrete effects, and that all God’s commandments, in the end, are for our benefit, and not simply springing from a divine but capricious Personal opinion. But even so, to fail to teach the principle of “preparedness” is to promote an unprepared character; and unpreparedness will come back to haunt locals in every setting of life — and especially so if the tables are ever turned on them and they go to study in a foreign country. So, the double standard is wrong. Why would we want to give our fellow students a reason to hate us? Give it to all, or give it to none (and it’s a difficult medicine to give to all — but let it come if it must).

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