First Person

First Person: Partying in Provo

At the nation’s most stone-cold-sober school, student parties get creative.

A cartoon-like illustration shows a group of 6 Star Trek fans dressed up in various costumes for a party, a herd of furry Tribbles at their feet.
Vulcans, Romulans, Starfleet personnel in uniform, and of course some students with their furry pet Tribbles attended the festivities. Illustration by Travis Foster.

Stardate 1985

By Dianna L. Barra (BS ’78, BS ’81, MS ’90), Phoenix

Way before Harry Potter or iPhones and before being a geek was cool, BYU’s science fiction and fantasy club held its much-loved Starfleet Dinners. Computer programmers, engineers, writers, and mathematicians threw off their daily identity to “go where no man had gone before” in the Wilkinson Center. Forty or more Vulcans, Romulans, and other aliens in their planet’s customary formal dress; Starfleet personnel in their uniforms; and of course some students with their furry pet Tribbles attended the festivities. We enjoyed intergalactic cuisine and drinks such as Andorian mash (blue-dyed mashed potatoes) and Romulan Ale (root beer). The decorations included a view of the renowned Enterprise in its hangar bay.

In the middle of the feasting and festivities at the 1985 dinner, two reporters from the Daily Universe walked by, saying they were working on a story about what students do on a Friday night. After a few minutes they declared that we were the weirdest gathering that they had ever seen. Maybe so, but we were having more fun than anyone else on campus.

Super Students, Assemble!

By Natalie Barlow Christensen (BS ’02), Cedar City, UT

While hanging out one night with friends at my BYU apartment, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to find 15 superheroes spread across the lawn, all in the same pose, staring heroically up and to the right. They wore brightly colored spandex and masks to protect their identity. Standing silently, they didn’t flinch for a good two minutes—which doesn’t seem that long unless you’re wearing spandex in front of a dozen college girls.

I was amazed at their commitment and wondered how this idea had ever come about. Perhaps being sober and dying for adventure lead young people to come up with daring ideas.

Then, as if alerted by some kind of invisible high-tech spy gear, the vigilantes suddenly vanished into the night with a mixture of somersaults, awkward cartwheels, and bent-legged kicks in the air. I knew at that moment that I would be telling this story for years to come.

10 Points for Ravenclaw

By W. Clark Anderson (BS ’16), Highland, UT

South of BYU campus is a string of apartments known as Condo Row. It was my senior year, and this was to be my final BYU home before flipping my tassel. I’d lived in a different apartment every year and visited just about every large, BYU-approved apartment complex, so I’d seen a lot of BYU craziness. But nothing would hold a candle to Condo Row. The ward on Condo Row called themselves the BWE (Best Ward Ever), and it set the tone right from the get-go.

The planned ward kickoff that year had a Harry Potter theme, featuring an opening ceremony, various Hogwarts games throughout the evening, and the coronation of a House Cup. The ward was split up into the four Hogwarts houses, each tasked with creating a house skit. When the night of the kickoff rolled around, I invited my fiancée, and we showed up having zero expectations.

It quickly became clear that we were the only Muggles around. The 6-foot-6 bishop was dressed as a very convincing Hagrid. My roommate was Harry Potter, and others came as an assortment of other characters from the wizarding world. Bishop Hagrid got the night started, the skits began, and my jaw dropped. Over the next 20 minutes, I saw Slytherin send four people rappelling off the roof of the condo behind us. Hufflepuff showed up in the back of a couple of trucks, bumping tunes, and threw down a choreographed hip-hop routine. Gryffindor followed suit. Finally, Ravenclaw dropped the mic with a dance around a spinning fire they had jimmy rigged from a metal firepit and round garbage can lid.

As my fiancée and I walked back to our car after the opening ceremonies, we exchanged that glance of, “What just happened?!”

Menace to Society Party

By Kenneth L. Rose (BS ’12, MS ’14), American Fork, UT

A comic-like illustration of a male student launching his bike into a swimming pool.
I launched the bike into the air and splashed my menacing, 25-year-old self into the deep end of the pool. Illustration by Travis Foster.

As my 25th birthday approached, I became aware of a tradition occasionally practiced among men who had reached this milestone unmarried. Paying ironic homage to the words of “some general authority,” these quarter-centenarians would throw “menace to society” parties. Partly to demonstrate retained self-confidence despite years of rejection (or apathy), partly to dull the pain of not meeting an arbitrary deadline for marriage, these parties consisted mostly of a bunch of shenanigans.

As my birthday neared, I began to form a plan of my own. I decided to celebrate my coming menace-to-society status by living up to the title with a (harmless) stunt demonstrating my supposed lack of contribution to society. I talked the idea over with a couple of my friends and decided to go for it.

Early in the afternoon of that dreaded day, I executed my plan. I grabbed an abandoned bicycle from the apartment racks and taped on some sparklers. After lighting the pyrotechnics and with a hefty push from a friend (the bike had no chain), I was off! Cameras rolling and spectators cheering, I careened across the apartment complex and through the pool gate. Flaunting my delayed responsibility and leaving a wave of failed relationships in my wake, I launched the bike into the air and splashed my menacing, 25-year-old self into the deep end of the pool.

As pointless as it seems, that moment is actually a memorable part of my unmarried life. You see, when you think you’re too old to be single, life can be kind of awkward. However, this was a time when I got it right and didn’t take myself too seriously.

Nature Movie

By Kirsten Bateman Dyer (BS ’90), Chesterfield Township, Michigan

On a crisp autumn night my date picked me up, and we drove up one of the nearby canyons. We joined a flock of other couples and, using flashlights, followed a trail to a remote woodsy picnic shelter. To prep for this date, the group of creative guys had muscled couches out of their apartments and hauled them up the canyon to create comfortable seating. They’d chosen a site with a rare electric outlet to power a TV and VCR. The screen of the bulky TV would be considered small nowadays, but back in 1986 it was ultimate awesomeness. The shelter had a roof but no walls, so we sat in our comfy couches, with blankets and snacks, surrounded by the serenity of nighttime nature.

Midway through the movie (maybe it was Ghostbusters?), rain began to fall. Our group of BYU couples remained happily dry as a curtain of water streamed down all around us. The weather made everything more fun. In the end we left the site without any trace of our having been there.

Call for Stories: Student-Ward Stories

On Sundays BYU’s campus classrooms become chapels; Cougareat and dining-hall tables serve up break-the-fasts and munch-and-mingles; and smaller spaces host Sunday School discussions. Where on campus did your favorite ward meet? Did sitting in the testing center test your testimony? Did you have an interesting calling, inspiring leaders, memorable activities or traditions? Send us your favorite BYU ward–related story. Deadline: Sept. 5.

BYU Magazine pays $50 for stories published in First Person. Send anecdotes of up to 300 words to firstperson@byu.edu. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar, appropriateness, and clarity.

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