135th Ask Josh – BYUSA Revisited

In Uncategorized on May 1, 2009 at 3:18 am

by Cici

Josh Guest,
So we’ve had about eight or so encounters, I’ve read your entire blog and was convinced to subscribe by our dear friend Nat. I’ve pondered and have this question: With all your involvement with BYUSA of late, do you still hate it with a burning passion or has the organization grown on you. Like the hokey-pokey, what is BYUSA all about? Thank you very much and I look forward to your response.


Your first question, a multiple-choice question, a dichotomous one at that, is difficult to answer. To say “do you still hate it with a burning passion or has the organization grown on you[?]” is like asking me if I absolutely detest asparagus or if it is my favorite ice cream flavor. I would like to pick an answer somewhere betwixt the two extremes, but since you leave me no choice. I will, for, consistency’s sake say that I hate BYUSA with a burning passion, just as I detest asparagus-flavored ice cream.

Next question: What is BYUSA all about?

I decided to keep my passions out of it and answer as objectively as I can, the merits of Brigham Young University Student Association as an organization itself, based on the expertise I acquired while taking three fourths of the Organizational Behavior class as part of my Management minor.

Using the textbook, “Creating Effective Organizations”, fifth edition, by David J. Cherrington and W. Gibb Dyer, I went page by page when I should have been studying for finals. At the end we’ll tally up the score to see if BYUSA is good or evil. Sound good? Sound evil? Okay then.

“Organizations provide the essential goods and services that benefit society.” [Cherrington, 4]

This year, with BYUSA, I joined the Service Squad a couple of nights and emptied trash. Sounds like a service that benefits society. GOOD

BYUSA had a Safety Week where I received a box of baking soda and I won a mini-emergency kit. Essential good? GOOD

“Ineffective organizations can damage the self-esteem… can be especially abusive by destroying feelings of self-worth, cheating customers, or wasting resources.” [Cherrington, 4]

I played with BYUSA on their College Democrats & Republicans v. BYUSA soccer game. In order to do so we had to kick Max Hall off the field on a Saturday. BAD [In BYUSA’s defense, Democrats & Republicans challenged them and scheduled the field themselves. Plus I have a personal vendetta against Hall due to something he said to me while I was an employee at Subway. So I change my vote to GOOD]

I also played quite poorly and was wont to weep on that field of shattered dreams. BAD

I joined a focus group that was offered lots of pizza in exchange for helping BYUSA evaluate their advertising. Focus on customers? GOOD. I was the only one that showed up. They had nobody else there. While it is not their fault if some didn’t show up, what would have happened if I hadn’t stumbled upon that room by accident? They would have spent nearly $50 just to eat all by themselves. Wasting Resources: BAD

“Organizations are expected to contribute to the quality of life and the betterment of society.” [Cherrington, 21]

I went to the “Knight Games” held on campus where I got to watch the play Everyman and I got a free roll and apple. Everyone was having a good time, small groups like Quill & the Sword club were represented. GOOD, GOOD, GOOD.

Culturally, it did set us back six or so centuries. BAD

“The hierarchal authority structure in organizations creates a natural opportunity to adversely influence employees, because they tend to develop a distorted concept of authority. When a person is promoted to a higher-level position, the promotion somehow seems to imply moral superiority, innate goodness, or some other virtuous quality. As a result, employees do not question the decisions of upper-level managers, and they give too much relevance to managers’ opinions.” [Cherrington, 22]

I have no knowledge that would give me any sort of a qualified opinion on the matter (much like the rest of this post). Therefore, my official comment is: No comment. GOOD/BAD

“Effective organizations usually have a written mission statement that defines success for the company.” [Cherrington, 40]

BYUSA’s website has both the vision and mission of BYUSA right here. Written mission statement: GOOD.

“Effective organizations are able to attract sufficient job candidates with the requisite talents to help the organization achieve its objectives.” [Cherrington, 77]

Let me preface this next part with the disclaimer that I have no personal quarrel against BYUSA. I have mentioned in an earlier post that my feelings were hurt once because I applied for a position in BYUSA and was not considered. Those scars have since healed and I find myself much happier with my current job, school, and money situation which I deem highly preferable to what I likely would have been in had I been selected.

Nevertheless, I have to point out that due to the bureaucratic nature of the system, ascent to the BYUSA presidency is, in fact, more difficult than becoming president of the United States of America.

Qualifications to become President of the United States of America:

a. Be 35 years old.
b. Be a natural born citizen
c. Win enough votes in the electoral college.

Here are just a few of the rules you must abide by to become president of BYUSA (running mate must also meet the same requirements):

a. Ecclesiastical endorsement [Elections Handbook, 10]
b. 3.0 GPA [Ibid.,10]
c. full-time student status (12 credits or more) [Ibid.,11]
d. Either two semesters of leadership experience with BYUSA or one semester outside BYUSA and one semester with BYUSA. [Ibid., 11]

Now this is the part that worries me. If BYUSA is at all cliquish, it is in this policy. According to this rule, President Monson would not be allowed to run for BYUSA, even if he became a full-time student and kept his nose clean and his grades up.

The paid advisors in the BYUSA office have at stake their jobs if the elected president and those he appoints to be area vice-presidents go awfully and wretchedly sour. Therefore, they have an interest in who makes them look good more than they have an interest in the public good. That’s not to say that the advisors themselves are corrupt, the system is just set up in such a way that they need to exert control to save their own skin.

Now, BYUSA makes it clearly abundant that all students are welcome and symbolically made all students members of their organization upon distributing t-shirts to all students bearing the phrase, “I am BYUSA.” Notwithstanding this gesture of outreach, the exclusion of non-BYUSA-experienced leaders is organizational inbreeding at its best, and nepotistic at its worst.

Drew Ludlow of the Daily Universe wrote this on the same subject:

“Another obstacle that BYUSA has to overcome is the detached, insiders-club image that persists despite a very open door and a standing call for volunteers. This may be far from a universal sentiment, but it’s certainly a common one.

First, BYUSA experience should not be a requirement for the presidency. Paid advisers spend the summer training the new officers – I’m sure they’ll get the gist. The next president should also examine current policies and public relations strategy to ensure that BYUSA is seen as, and is, for that matter, a disarming band of fun-loving service-givers that could never be mistaken for a clique.” [Ludlow “The Road Back For BYUSA”. 6 Mar 2006]

A member of BYUSA will say that their organization is so complex that a member of the presidency could not be effective unless he had a year’s experience, not just simple volunteer work, but experience that can most only be attained by being appointed by a current president or vice-president to be one of their executive directors (the third tier of leaders in the hierarchy). If that is so, than it leads me to wonder why in much larger, much more complex businesses and organizations, outside managers are brought in, not in spite of, but specifically because of their fresh perspective and unfamiliarity with the structure of their new environment. They seem to do just fine. If BYUSA is so set up that an intelligent, motivated outsider who can organize a campaign convincing enough to get elected but they can’t figure out the system of BYUSA itself, the problem, then, dwells within the actual setup of procedure and protocol. BAD

“The interests of society are advanced when everyone has an opportunity to participate without unfair discrimination.” [111]

While BYUSA is almost entirely volunteer-based, it still meets the requirements of Equal Opportunity Employment laws. Organizations with 25 or more members must have racial representation equal to that of the general population of which they are a part. According to, blacks comprise 4% of the 12.8% minority population of BYU, 0.512%, or 1 in 200. According to those same statistics, at least one out of every 30 or so people should be Hispanic, another one out of thirty should be either Asian or Pacific islander. While looking at Executive Vice-President Chance Basinger’s blog I found this picture.

While it is not always accurate to determine someone’s ethnicity by skin color alone, I believe BYUSA has met the standard of being an Equal Opportunity volunteer organization. GOOD.

“Effective organizations require three basic types of behavior: 1. Attracting and retaining people. … as a general rule, organizations that are more successful in attracting and retaining people are more effective. 2. Dependable role performance. … Organizations are more effective when workers are motivated to do their jobs well. 3. Extra-role behaviors. … Since an organization cannot foresee all contingencies in its operations, its effectiveness is influenced by the willingness of its employees to perform spontaneous and innovative behaviors as the need arises.” [Cherrington, 252]

As far as attracting and retaining me goes, I enjoy going into the BYUSA office. They do a good job of thanking their volunteers with year-end bowling parties and pizza. I always feel like volunteering again after these parties. GOOD

When all is said and done, I’m glad BYUSA is there. While I may rag on it and place it with the League of Miscreants, it’s all in fun. They seem sincere about what they’re doing. I like Wi-Fi on campus. I like wearing shorts and sandals. I enjoy the occasional free meal and party. I like the service opportunities it provides. I like that it gives concerned and talented students a positive outlet for their enthusiasm and love for the campus. I like being able to stay out after midnight. I may mock it whenever it decides to publicly pat itself on the back for the job it does. But if they don’t praise themselves, who will? It’s lonely at the top. Today, BYUSA, at 3:14 in the morning on May 1, 2009, I give you the nod.


Josh Guest
An ignorant antagonist

  1. Boo. People pleaser. This is far more generous than anything and everything you’ve previously said to me about BYUSA. You are a white after all.

  2. “The reality is that nobody ever likes the umpire, but you can’t play the World Series without one.”-Charles Wheelan

  3. Dear Josh Guest,Thank you very much for responding to my question. I really appreciate all the time that you put into evaluating the organization. Good luck this summer with your internship and Teach America. Keep in touch.Much love,Cici

  4. what are your thoughts on man capris? and the new and growing fad of “euro mullets” for guys?

  5. I think you’re more fun when you hate BYUSA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: