Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Email I Never Got From BYU

One thing about changing schools during our education is that we get to see how different departments, schools and states handle basic stuff. Having only ever attended BYU before starting graduate school it was a slight adjustment starting school at UNC. Looking back I realize that the BYU physics department, and BYU as a whole is very "official" for lack of a better word (some would call it "up tight" or "autocratic"). At BYU any email sent out to faculty, staff and students had to first be submitted to committee, reviewed, "queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters." OK maybe not that bad but it was a process.

At UNC we have a department list-serv (actually we have several, I think I am on 5 or 6) where anyone in the department can send an email everyone else in the department, without prior approval. I won't share any of the more interesting (or in need of censoring) emails that I have gotten, but I did recently get an email that I would never get at BYU, for many different reasons.

Subject: flooding

"people in the basement should be on the lookout for water
during this heavy rain. the chance will get worse over time
it is going to rain hard until Friday. let me know if you see water
in the floor."

First, it doesn't rain in Utah, and if it does it is nowhere close to the rain we get in North Carolina. Second, at BYU the custodians are the ones that typically keep track of things like this, not the grad students. It would seem that at UNC this would fall under "building maintenance" which is separate from "housekeeping", thus the custodians could not do anything about it even if they noticed because of union, accounting, and organizational rules (gotta love socialism!). Third, no capitalization, and at least one grammatically incorrect sentence.

This little email was a simple reminder of some of the basic differences between BYU and UNC (and I would venture most other places).


  1. Here at UC Irvine I get weekly reminders that at the department colluqiium wil will served wine and cheese.

    Not the typical email you get at BYU.

  2. I meant "we will be served wine and cheese"

  3. "wine and cheese"? Oh wow you California schools have money! We are served Cheez Whiz and crackers.

    (There's actually a long and complicated story as to why it that is and it actually has nothing to do with department resources. Apparently we have gotten a reputation for being the school that serves Cheez Whiz before colloquium. I think it started a few years back when the department secretary got frustrated because someone complained about what was served for colloquium, so she sent out a mass email through the department list-serv (ha! nice tie-in to my post) asking people what they wanted and she only got one response from a professor (the only professor) who is a fan of Cheez Whiz and all foods unhealthy (he's actually a very healthy guy, very well preserved for his age (haha)).)(Did I close all my parentheses? Gotta make sure so it compiles.)

  4. In Brittany we too have a lot of rain (but this is regular with not any flooding generally, not like in North Carolina) and alcoholics who drink a lot of wine (I do not know if that is that much in California).


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