Freshman Year

I have often joked that my freshman year of college at BYU was the greatest year of my life, and that it has been all downhill since then. While that’s not quite accurate, I think it’s fair to say that freshman year was the funnest year of my life.

I grew up in Illinois, where there weren’t a lot of Mormons, and I absolutely loved Youth Conferences. Back then it was always held on a college campus and you would stay in a dorm. They would hold classes, there would be time for sports, and then there would be a big dance. And all of these kids were actually LDS–it was enough to boggle the mind! So I went to BYU with the attitude that it was basically going to be a nine-month long Youth Conference. And that’s exactly what it was for me.

First, there was living in Deseret Towers. My sister brought me there and then left, and I was completely alone; I didn’t know a soul. But that didn’t last at all. I was on the second floor of S Hall, and our floor very quickly became a brotherhood, including all the silliness of freshmen (late night games of frisbee tag, pranks, you name it). I quickly had dozens of friends and a core group of really good friends. And I got along fine with my roommates.

[The one dispute I can recall was over whether to get a phone or not. I was poor and didn’t want the extra expense, but my rommie had a girlfriend back in California, and a phone was a necessity for him. The phone actually sat in a wooden box in the wall so that two adjacent rooms could share a single phone. Hard to imagine in these days of everyone having his own cell.]

Then there was the ward. An entire ward of Mormons my age! Wow. To a kid from Illinois, that was pure heaven. We had two buildings of Heritage Halls (which is to say, girls) in our ward, and the girls were terrific, all beautiful and fun while still being, you know, Mormon.

Another great thing was the dances. I loved to dance back then, but I hardly ever got the chance back in Illinois. At BYU there were dances all the time, and crashing someone else’s dance was easy. And if you really couldn’t find a dance on campus, you could always head downtwon to Uncle Mario’s (the disco prior to the Salt Palace).

There was always something to do for cheap. Sports, activities, movies, plays, concerts and other musical performances, or you could just go hiking up in the mountains nearby.

At age 18 I was really ready to be away from home and try out my own wings, and to do so at BYU felt so incredibly liberating to me.

I even enjoyed the classes…

What were your experiences?


  1. You don’t need to go to BYU to have experiences like that. It just sounds like college to me. Go to a university with an institute and you can have all that.

  2. I spent my freshman year at Ricks back when it was Ricks. It wasn’t a good year, mostly because I completely lost my marbles.

    I was 17 and I’d been so tightly controlled and sheltered by my parents for so long that even the freedom at Ricks (complete with curfews, rules about having boys in your apartment, etc.) felt like total anarchy. I had no idea what to do with myself. Oh my gosh, the stories I could tell you of my total insanity, you have no idea. I SO wasn’t ready to be there.

    (But after I got back home and grew up a little, I found a good group of core friends, got an apartment with the girls in the group, and we all had a blast at the YSA dances every Friday.)

  3. Moving across country. Married freshman (post-mission) working full-time. Going to school full-time with a very difficult course load. Living off campus and commuting by bus. Staying up late each night to talk with my wife (who was working full-time in the Undergraduate Admissions Office). Sleeping three hours per night, then crashing Friday night and waking up at Noon (or later) on Saturday. Being Stake Missionaries. Having our oldest son the summer following my freshman year.

    It’s kind of a blur. Wouldn’t change how I did it, but wouldn’t recommend it to most.

  4. My freshman year will always be a wonderful and cherished memory for me. That was the year that I found the Church and got baptized. I had my first home teachers, first General Conference, first Institute class, first Mormon girlfriend, and first break-up with a Mormon girlfriend.
    As #1 said, the Institute was a vital link for me to keep connections with Mormon friends (most of whom were upperclassmen and many of whom were returned missionaries) during the week. There were only about 20 of us in a campus of about 6000 but they are some of my fondest memories of college, period.

    Those memories are always complicated by the fact that joining the Church created a major conflict with my parents, both of whom are very active and involved members of their own Church. For the first time, I knew the feeling of not being totally welcome in my own home. While in recent years our relationship has improved, there are wounds and scars there that will never heal.

  5. I played, and then played some more, and then I was in a few plays then I did tech for a few plays, and then there were boys, lots and lots of boys. I seem to recall a few classes being in there somewhere. Not sure though.

  6. My nephew, to whom I am pretty close, is getting ready to go to his freshman year at BYU next month. It has been great fun to reminisce with him. Really, for a number of reasons not least of which is the impending mission, the freshman year for boys is pretty much the free-est point in life, if measured in responsibility, time and oversight.

  7. Ugly Mahana says:

    I grew up in Ohio, attended BYU, and deeply valued the friendships I found at the YSA ward I attended during summers home. In a chance conversation one summer, one of my best friends and I discussed education choices. She, having just returned from her mission, said that she prayed about going to BYU, and felt impressed to stay in Ohio. I could respect that, as I also felt impressed to go west. As a result of that decision, I grew in ways that I would not have grown had I stayed home. I don’t read this post as a paean to BYU, but rather as one person’s experience. Because I developed valuable friendships with so many who did not attend BYU, I resent any suggestion that BYU offers an a priori superior education for mormons. However, I can relate to the sweet shock of being suddenly and completely surrounded by mormons for the first time.

    My freshman summer (I came home after Summer term to save for a mission) was a bit of a disappointment. Socially, I was not prepared to make friends with the total strangers on my floor at Deseret Towers. But moving away from home provided the perfect break between high school and adult life. I returned home ready to jump into Institute and the local YSA ward with both feet. Once I got my legs under me, I really enjoyed being emancipated from high school. Thanks, BYU.

  8. I hated my freshman year at BYU! I was so excited about it, and was sure it was going to be awesome, but then I ended up with a roommate who didn’t have a personality. You know how with most people, the more you get to know them, the more interesting they get? She was the opposite. She was really nice, but all she ever wanted to do was study and listen to the Newsies soundtrack or Peter Breinholt. The other girls on my floor either had friends from home or formed an immediate clique. I almost transferred to the U after that year.

    My sophomore year was another story. I moved in with three girls I had never met and we became instant best friends. That’s when the all-nighters, pranks, and other such fun came in. I also met my husband that year, so I tend to have fond memories of that time.

    If I did it over again, I think I would consider living off-campus as a freshman.

  9. I was a total dork my first year of BYU and lived in the honors hall with all of the other nerds. The most fun I had was breaking into the Talmadge Building in the middle of the night with a coathanger so we could get into the computer lab and play text-based online games. I was also one of the few guys with a TV, which annoyed my studious roommate no end. I was a bit disillusioned with church my first year and became about as inactive as a BYU freshman could be.

    In spite of all that, I still spent many hours in the company of a certain someone in Heritage Halls. It was awesome.

  10. When I showed up at the University of Arizona, the Bishop of our student ward told us to organize daily scripture study groups in our dorms. At first that seemed excessive, but then that group of 5 of us that met at 9pm in the 4th floor study lounge turned into a group of 10 or more people with half of the people that didn’t even live in the dorm. Every weeknight was an hour of hanging out with the Mormon crowd and then on the weekends it was going to the dances or driving to Nogales, Mexico or sneaking into the church campground on Mt. Lemmon at night and building a fire. That counsel to form “scripture study” groups helped me to have instant friends and a lot of fun my freshman year.

  11. My freshman year at BYU was a tough one. I had just been baptized into the church 6 months previous. In my ward in the Bible Belt, a strong group of Laurels and I were on fire for the gospel-living it, sharing it, and having deep discussions on it. I thought BYU would be just like that only 10X better. As it turned out, no one on my floor wanted to have deep gospel discussions (they wanted to discuss boys:boys, boys, boys), there was of course no one to share the gospel with, and for the first time, I encoutered Mormons that either weren’t particularly faithful or were outwardly faithful but had no real passion for their testimony. The fact that this was a startling realization for me is now quite funny. I had thought every Mormon young women was just like the uber-cool girls back home. At the time it shook my Mormon world-view a bit to find out this was not so.

    I also encountered my first Mormons who were either totally off their rocker, infuriating close-minded, or mean and snotty. I encountered strange doctrines (or interpretations of doctrines, more accurately), religion professor with opinions I had never heard, and my first glimpse of garments!

    My testimony faltered and very nearly flatlined. But there was no good way to go inactive when your whole floor tromps off to church each Sunday. I felt trapped and unmoored. Concerned friends and ward members tried to counsel me. I went once to a x-Mormon support group. I had a Baptist lady try taking me to her church. Well, anyway, it was a trip.

  12. It was a horrible year. It was a great year.

    I didn’t have enough money. The first semester, I lived with relatives 18 blocks away from campus and froze bicyling to school and back. The second semester I had a part-time campus job that I hated and that kept me up until 2am 3 nights a week. No one knew that many of my various personal difficulties were typical of Asperger’s Syndrome. I had a demanding academic schedule. I fell behind in my studies, and the more I tried to whip myself into doing them, the more discouraged I got and the more I diverted into personal studies I found more interesting. Academically, it was a failure.

    My testimony grew. Before BYU, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on a mission. Afterwards, I knew I did. I learned something of what love and charity really are, and why they are at the heart of the Gospel. I had some fine professors. I met people I could talk and be friendly with. Most memorably, especially who let me pour out my troubles and then said “I believe you and I have faith in you”, when I didn’t believe in myself. Spiritually, I consider it a success.

  13. MikeInWeHo says:

    This post stirs up powerful memories.

    I moved to Ann Arbor out of high school because my parents refused my request to go to BYU, and I knew there was an Institute at U. of M. It seemed like the best option at the time. Upon arrival I was greeted by a kindly, busy Bishop who met with me briefly and said “Get involved!” There seemed to be nobody my age in the ward.

    Very soon thereafter a powerful feeling came upon me: “Mike, you have to get out of here.” It was easy to slip away.

    Thus ended my active membership in the Church. In its place, a lifelong friendly interest in Mormonism was born.

    I know most members would consider me apostate, but I am grateful for the events of my freshman year in Ann Arbor. As a gay man, I was spared some terrible times had I gone on to marry in the Church (as I surely would have). I might have made temple covenants that I would have violated. Today I might be in the DAMU, full of anger. None of that happened.

    Instead, I have some wonderful Mormon friends. I pray. I read the same scriptures you do. I even entertain the idea that someday I could be a part of the Church again.

    Thanks for giving me a chance to share this, Kevin.

  14. Peter LLC says:

    I specifically wanted to avoid living in dorms so BYU was out for that and other reasons. Instead I took a trip to Cal Poly SLO’s institute the spring before I was to attend, hung a notice on its bulletin and ended up sharing an apartment with three RMs the next year. There were enough Mormon students to support a student ward and it was great. If you can’t have fun on the Central Coast I would have serious concerns about your pulse. I ended up transfering to BYU post-mish but it didn’t feel a bit more ‘mormony’ than my freshman year at Cal Poly.

  15. My freshman year at BYU was great and shares some aspects of the reasons why Kevin described his as great (e.g. we had a dorm from Heritage Halls in our ward as well).

    I moved in to W-Hall at Deseret Towers not knowing anyone but quickly, the same day, found great people to spend time with on my floor, several of whom remain friends to this day. I found out a childhood friend was living on the floor below me (hi JNS!)

    I was relatively free to set my own schedule and activities so it was the typical emancipation from high school/parents home that would be experienced at any University but I really enjoyed the feeling of having everyone around me as a member of the Church. We had plenty of members in Dallas but I was still one of only a few in my school. I learned a lot and noticed how much I liked university-level classes (both the large group freshman-level GE classes and some upper level language classes that I attended with RMs who were surprised to see an 18-year-old freshman among them).

    Alan Keele was my mentor and took it more seriously than others’ mentors based on discussions with others about their freshman mentors (every single BYU freshman was assigned a faculty mentor, I believe). Actually, I didn’t know my real mentor and I was in the RM German grammar class that Keele was teaching that semester and he asked me about my mentor and then brought me on board with his other mentees when he found out I had an “inactive” mentor. The personal touch made all the difference in the world, I am sure. Keele also informed me of an opening in the German House for Winter Semester which I applied for and got, and that was a life-changing experience for me as well.

    Socially, it was heaven. As a teenage skateboarder, my friends and I had no limits anymore to our skating. We were out all night skateboarding to the extent we could. We took road trips to California by checking the ads on the old “ride board” in the old Wilk. I fit homework in around the side; skipped upwards of 80% of some classes but somehow still managed to pass the exams, and still learned a ton. My freshman Book of Mormon class was taught by an administrator and although it was a little seminary-like (I even had signed up for the 7:00 am section to make room in my schedule for Chinese 101, work and extra German and Spanish classes — ended up dropping Chinese 101 but was stuck in the 7:00 am BoM section which was probably the most painful aspect of my freshman year), I learned more about the Book of Mormon from that class than from my whole seminary experience combined.

    I worked at a lousy freshman job refilling the condiments at the Morris Center and didn’t really mind it at all considering cute girls were my co-workers and it was close to my dorm in W-Hall. Later, when I moved to the German House I switched jobs.

    I was an Old Testament Gospel Doctrine teacher in my W-Hall ward which I really enjoyed although I cringe now to think what I actually would have taught (can’t really remember at this point). I remember using the old Institute manual as my lesson book rather than the lesson book. Then I was completely blown away by the Foreign Language Student Housing ward my second semester.

    I really loved the whole year.

  16. John Mansfield says:

    During freshman orientation, I sleep 6 hours the first night, 5 hours the next night, and then 4 hours the night after that. Getting out of bed that third morning I thought, “This pattern can’t continue.”

  17. Very difficult to split university with a mission in the UK, so during my freshman year I was already a 21 year old fogey.

  18. I showed up at BYU at 17, a convert who had never lived among Mormons on any large scale. It was an eye opener as I soon learned that my full on English sense of humour (mostly including the inability to let any possible sexual innuendo go without pointing it out for laughs) , my more than occasional profanity, and being completely oblivious that people really, really cared what others thought about them. Even though my own Mormoness tempered me enough at home to make me quite reserved, at BYU I was looked upon as an uncouth rebel on his way to hell. Nevertheless I changed my name to Howie, got bad grades, became president of my dorm (W Hall), and ended up dropping out that summer with a killer case of Mono (Thanks Theresa). A great year overall; I even met a Minnesota girl from U hall at a dance, and she manage to write to me on my mission, and we were married (in Chicago no less) before I set foot on campus again. (We never dated and we only spent about 2.5 weeks together the three years prior to getting married, but that is a different story).

  19. My BYU freshman experience (oh my, is it really a quarter-century ago this fall?) was like Kevin’s. Maybe it’s the mid-west origins that had something to do with it (“back home” was the Nauvoo Stake)? I was socially awkward, geeky, shy, studious; and quickly picked up a circle of likewise geeky awkward studious and shy guys and girls from all across the country (Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Iowa, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arkansas, even Utah) that did everything together. Hooray for the honors dorms in Helaman Halls. Late night (ahem, early morning) Risk games on the Cannon Center patio, hobbit capes and sword fights, midnight heart-to-heart chats about the gospel and life and future on the SWKT vent, and of course, long walks along the streets of the east benches up by the Temple. We girls sent all the guys on missions, and married none of them. So much of who I am and the confidence I have I can trace to that God-sent experience. To this day, when I make a (rare… only 3x in 25 years) visit to campus, I am amazed at the rush of feeling of “home” and “heaven” that the BYU-Provo campus gives me.

    I have a son who will be a freshman this fall at BYU. I hope that the Lord has in store a ‘just-right-for-him’ experience, too.

  20. BYU as a freshman. Ah the memories…

    I grew up in a small mormon community in Southern Alberta and yearned to escape the small town/small mind thing. For some, going to Provo was a downgrade from the larger world they had known – for me it was like paradise. Lots of new people, lots of new ideas – the world was finally spread out before me and I jumped in with both feet.

    I had some great roommates in Robison Hall (including the one guy from my hometown I could honestly live with) and made a horde of new friends immediately. I met a guy who had actually not kissed a girl. I got busted throwing water balloons at cars on 9th East. We went dancing several times a week (Plastique, Ivy Tower). We ordered 5-buck pizzas regularly and loved that I wasn’t getting called “faggot” by football players. I took a silly-hard load of classes and pulled barely acceptable grades. I stayed up all night talking to a vareity of people. My roommate shaved his eyebrows. I met a girl from AZ and fell in love for the first time. My music collection (cassettes!) expanded exponentially (Yaz, New Order, The Smiths, The Cure).

    That first year was a beautiful thing, only to be upstaged post-mission by even more fun/hilarity and a car with skeletons painted on it…

    Man, freshman year was great.

  21. StillConfused says:

    It was really funny to see the entertainment that we came up with at BYU. When I lived in DT, some guys set up two single beds in the open area below and put a female mannequin in one of them and a blow up godzilla in the other. Completely pointless but hysterical.

    Later, when I was back there, some students fashioned a vehicle out of snow in one of the parking spots. The campus police, in their infinite intelligence actually put a ticket on the snow car for illegal parking.

  22. Kevin Barney says:

    john f., ah yes, the skateboarding. I wasn’t a skateboarder, but I had friends (from California, natch) who were. They would dress up all in black with long black clothes and cheap sunglasses and skate board all over campus.

    These same friends would often call girls up selectedly randomly from the directory and ask them out on dates–giivng my name and information!

    On pizza–you should see the check register from that year. Almost every check is made out to HEAPS (what Brick Oven Pizza used to be called), broken only by the occasional BLIMPIES.

    On music–I remember bringing my Led Zeppelin and Queen, among other albums, but the hot music that year (1976-77) was Heart and Boston. A copule of guys on the other side of the dorm from me played that Boston album all the time. And I had some other friends who were always playing Dylan’s Ballad of Hurricane.

  23. Sue (#2): If Ricks was too liberal for you, there are a few madrassas in Karachi I could recommend.

  24. Lol on the music. We were trading Mannheim Steamroller and Alan Parsons Project. I’m telling you, the group I ran with was unusual.

  25. BTD Greg says:

    For some reason, I expected to get to the end of this blog post and read, “And then, everything changed on the day that I found my roommate’s bloodied body.”

    I think this says a lot more about me than it does about Kevin.

  26. Kevin Barney says:

    Yeah, Ricks seemed like a concentration camp next to BYU. I realize that for some people that would be a good thing, but not for moi.

  27. Greg, he did ultimately (#22) find a Heart album, which is quite bad enough.

  28. TrevorM says:

    Freshman year was great for me too.

    I made the first real LDS friends of my life. We had fun with pranks and hanging out and just enjoying life. I lived in Helaman Halls. Classes were generally very good, and I experienced few of the negative Mormon stereotypes that people like to decry.

    It was an amazing bit of freedom before my mission and the ever-growing responsibilities that come after it.

  29. Freshman at BYU in the 80’s – the place where I learned to tuck and roll my pant legs.

  30. re # 22, Kevin, for liability reasons skateboarding was not allowed on campus when I was at BYU — and of course skateboarders’ styles were much different too from the sound of it!

  31. I went to the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. A hippy school with integrated classes and no grades—we had “evaluations,” which were basically self-evaluations.

    I shared a “pod” (a two-bedroom four-plex, basically) on campus with some high school friends. Drugs were everywhere—there was a guy who came door-to-door selling pot. A kid in my class did a paper on hallucinogenic mushrooms.

    Best memory was Halloween night, when we went around campus pulling pranks, and saw Nirvana play at a dorm party. My friends went streaking across the soccer field at some point.

    I dropped out after a semester to get married and move to Hawaii. I joined the church just before getting married, and attended BYU Hawaii for a term before we moved back to Seattle. Talk about culture shock.

  32. Kevin,

    I love your college posts. from my memory over the years

    The younger Kevin as a college student:

    Chases Girls
    Poses Semi-nude
    Dances up a storm
    marries wife
    Serves mission
    Conceives first child

  33. Carlos U. says:

    Ah, Freshman Year at the Y… I loved it. I showed up at 22, still battled-scared from a Spanish-Speaking mission to Sweden (none of us came back normal… maybe we weren’t normal to begin with) and moved in with 3 awesome RM’s. Made my first friends just by walking towards my appartment. I was shocked to death that people acutally said hi to each other on the street. The summer dragged on, so I lived at the appartment complex pool when not in class for the first month or so, where I met a stunningly gorgeous girl… Nothing ever happened, but it’s still a great memory. I hiked the Y, got my first and only Y-hug, hung out with cool guys and girls… It felt like the aformentioned 9-month long Youth Conference, with homework and finals. Met and dated more girls than I ever had, had my first make-out session ever… (I barely avoided being a Virgin Lips missionary by 2 pecks). Loved my religion classes, loved going country dancing, loved my roomates. When summer came, I got a job but took no classes. We played Killer Uno until 3:00 AM most mornings, went to work, and spent the afternoon at the pool. Gosh, that was great!!!

  34. Bro. Jones says:

    I was one of 5 or 6 active Mormons at my (liberal, Eastern) college. The ward didn’t like us. My classmates thought I was old-fashioned and backwards. Didn’t fit in well at all. Didn’t enjoy school until two years later, when I started studying what I wanted to, met friends in the department (Literature), and got engaged to my (then non-Mormon) wife.

  35. Kevin Barney says:

    #30, the black coats and sunglasses was meant to be a Blues Brothers theme.

    #32, excellent memory! A couple you could add to the list are my posts on the karate club and a recent one on skydiving.

    #33, since you were just a tad older you reminded me that we had a guy in our dorm/ward who was 33 and divorced. And living in a freshman dorm. Probably not the wisest choice; the girls all avoided him like the plague.

  36. #23 – Yeah, I know. That should tell you something about how tightly controlled I was at home. I was used to my dad constantly looking over my shoulder and keeping me under his super controlling thumb. Ricks, in reality, was like glorified EFY in terms of freedom, but it was WAY more freedom than I knew what to do with.

  37. You more or less described my freshman year experience at BYU as well (1987-88). Like you, I’ve also commented that that was the greatest year of my life, though “funnest” is probably more accurate. It was also the year I think I came into my own, the year I finally felt comfortable and confident in my own skin.

    My pre-BYU experience and expectations were shaped by E.F.Y. (similar to Youth Conference), which I loved. And B.Y.U. turned out to be exactly that, E.F.Y., only protracted.

    I was hoping BYU would be more of the same post-mission, but it was not. It was still fun, but you can’t recreate the newness or novelty. Also, the stakes were higher… would I get married, what kind of career would I prepare for, etc.

    While I’m sure many freshman have similar experiences, I actually think the prospect of going on a two-year mission enhances the freshman year experience at BYU. It feels like the equivalent of a “summer fling”… nothing feels permanent, there is an “end date” in site, big decisions can wait for later, and you can just live in the moment, anxiety free.

  38. Other memories:

    * Lived in Q Hall, 7th floor, facing the pool. Didn’t have a car. Often a bummer, but turned out better that way.

    * Walked down to Minuteman at least twice a day for huge jugs Dr. Pepper, and hot dogs and hamburgers that we would make ourselves.

    * Got in trouble for having a poster of Carol Alt on my wall.

    * Seemed like everyone at BYU played at least one instrument. Didn’t have to go far from my room in Q Hall 7th Floor to create a band… found 3 of the other 4 members of the band within two or three doors our my room. Found the 4th member of the band, the guitar player, on the studiously “quiet” 2nd Floor. His name was Christian Cardall, also known as the Spinozist Mormon, and he could wail on the guitar. We played gigs at the Morris Center, the Cannon Center, the Wilkinson Center, and other places off-campus.

    * Floppy disks and dot-matrix printers at the Morris Center computer lab.

    * BYU’s basketball team was really good. They started the season something like 17-0, ranked #2 in the AP poll behind Temple. On their 18th game or so, Temple had lost earlier in the day. All BYU had to do was win and they would have been #1 in the country. They lost to UAB Birmingham. Loved going to those games though. That team featured Mike Smith, Marty Haws, Nathan Call, Jeff Chatman… Who else was on that team?

  39. My freshman year was more of a freshman semester because after that semester I went on my mission.

    For me it started when a Mormon friend, his Dad and I got into a van in New York and drove across the country to Utah. This friend and I were roommates for that first semester.

    We moved into Deseret Towers and “W Hall” beneath the watchful eye of a woman named Ma Bell. There were a bunch of kids from Arizona on one side of our floor and we couldn’t help but notice that they punctuated their sentences with the word “dude” which was really annoying for awhile until we found ourselves doing the same thing.

    I basically learned what dating really could be at Brigham Young University. For some reason I thought people who dated were automatically going steady … because that was what the NY kids did where I came from. When I realized at BYU you could date a lot of girls and just have fun, it was like a revelation to me. Some nights you could even manage to have two dates – going out with one, dropping her off and then going to the midnight movie with someone else. No getting serious. Dating was almost too easy at BYU … but I suppose that’s what a casual dating culture should be like in the first place.

    Skateboarding. Almost all of us had skateboards … but I also remember campus police stopping us and telling us we weren’t allowed to skate on campus. We’d nod respectfully, pick up our boards and wait for the police to drive off – at which point we’d drop the skateboards and get back on them. They had to know we weren’t taking them seriously. I’m not even sure why they ever bothered to get out of their cars and talk to us about it.

    The windows on one side of “W Hall” faced directly across from windows on another hall (I think it was “U Hall”). For safety reasons, the windows only opened so much. I remember guys in my building trying to shoot paintballs through the open windows on the opposite side.

    Every evening at about 10pm I’d start to get hungry. I started playing the speed card game with friends on my floor and whoever lost had to buy pizza. I’d play until I was ahead but after collecting just once I felt guilty and didn’t collect any more. But calling 5-buck pizza or Domino’s almost every evening was a major part of that first semester.

    I remember taking New Testament from Wilfred Griggs. I remember taking a Intro to Biology course where the professor basically drilled evolution into us, which is fine – but not what I would have expected.

    Mostly I just remember it being a very fun semester. Probably too much fun and not enough focus on academics.

  40. Minuteman! Oh yes. Putting burgers thru that little machine.


  41. W hall (87-88 as well) was across from R hall I think. U hall was a girls dorm and heaven forbid they were across from each other. W hall would probably tilted over and collapsed if it was across from U hall.

    Ma Bell – great lady.

    And I picked up the expressions Dude an Fetch my freshman year in DT.

  42. Sister Van Wagenen was the “mother” of W-Hall by 1994 when I was there.

  43. It’s only been a little more than a decade since my freshman year at BYU, but I did have a pretty good time. I was also a total nerd, but I picked up some friends at Honors Orientation and we hung out. I loved the feeling of freedom, being far away from my parents, making new friends, being around so many Mormons (I also grew up in areas far away from church culture). My first week at school I noticed an ad in the paper for College Bowl tryouts, so I went, tried out, and got on the team. I was on the team for 3 years and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

  44. Some time ago I stumbled across a demolition video of Deseret Towers. It’s on YouTube now:

  45. Kevin Barney says:

    Wow. RIP, DT. Thanks for that, danithew.

  46. #22 – Brick Oven took lots of my money while I was dating. That brings back memories.

  47. I thoroughly enjoyed my freshman year at BYU. I was a 17-year-old Relief Society president; I went sledding on kifed trays from the Cannon Center; I went to the dances and got asked for once.

    It was different than I expected, but I would say better, overall.

  48. rondell says:

    My favorite part of BYU was the Ivy Tower. A bunch of us girls would go there on Wednesday nights because it was Ladies’ Night and we got in for free. Most of the girls spent the night on the crowded upper level where they played pop music. (Think “Soldier of Love”) One of the other girls and I spent our nights on the lower level where they played punk and new wave music (late 80s).

    KB, I was is S hall (6th floor), too, but it was a girls’ hall. Our ward consisted of 6th and 7th floors of R and S halls.

    My oldest is starting college in the Fall. He was going to go to BYU-I, but since he gets to go free to the CC where I teach, he’s decided to go there the year before his mission. I have a feeling that part of his decision has to do with his girlfriend still being here. I keep hoping he takes the time to really enjoy his Freshman year even though he will still be at home.

  49. Kevin Barney says:

    Yeah, rondell, they sometimes would flip the buildings from one sex to the other for some reason.

  50. what a great memory trip. Freshman year at Taylor Hall. Learning how to be me–pranks, staying up late, meeting people, talking all night, watching Hawaii 5-O five times a night, putting the furniture up on the racks in the basement, drawing funny faces and moutaches on Taylor’s picture in the lobby, snowball fights–inside, trapping roomates inside their rooms with the old penny trick, firecrackers under the door at 3:00am, making a jacuzzi out of the shower area with a bathroom stall door (that only broke once, on the third floor, not my fault BTW), painting the window for Homecoming, shooting fireworks at night at John Hall (precious athletes), basketball, getting kicked off the dorm council for not taking it serious enough, scratching the “p” on Sister Pierce’s door to “f”–Mama Fierce tried to keep order, but she couldn’t get a handle on us crazy freshmen boys.

    I loved the freedom, I could finally live my own life with being second-guessed by well-meaning parents. Growing up in Connecticut I too was floored by the fact that everyone was Mormon and our dorm was our ward. FHE groups were perfect for casually socializing with girls from all over.

    I loved Helamen Halls, then I went to Spring term and reluctantly moved over to DT. What a shock. It was like moving to the other side of the Iron Curtain, and they really thought they were better. More control and less personality. I finally understood why a lot of my CT friends had gone to DT in the first place instead of Helamen. it wasn’t my thing, however.

  51. Kevin Barney says:

    Ah, yes, Homer, family home evening groups. Among the dorms, the ward and the FHE groups, you had a built-in social circle from the get-go.

  52. I know this is very late to the discussion, but the mentions of Brick Oven bring back a very fond memory. Our telephone number was one digit off from theirs, and we got a couple of calls a week for them. Being the helpful kind that we were, we always took their order.

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