Welcome to a new school year — we are so pleased to have you back on campus and to share together in the joy of education and discipleship. As we begin anew, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the beloved community of Zion that we seek to build in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, and at BYU. We need each and every one of you in order to build this community.
Zion means that we are “of one heart and one mind” and that there are “no poor among us” (Moses 7:18). Being of one heart and one mind means that we “mourn with those that mourn” (Mosiah 18: 9), so what happens to one of us, happens to all of us. In order to have no poor among us, each member of our community should be treated with respect and feel safe on campus. Without feelings of safety, there cannot be true belonging.
President Nelson called upon church members everywhere to “lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice” and pleaded with us to “promote respect for all of God’s children.” As a college community, we strive to foster an educational environment that promotes the personal dignity of every individual, and where we each take responsibility to “eliminate prejudice, including racism, sexism, and nationalism” and treat one another compassionately “regardless of age, personal circumstances, gender, sexual orientation” or other unique circumstances (FHSS Diversity and Inclusion Syllabus Statement). We are deeply saddened when members of our community are wounded by the hurtful words and behavior of others within the college and across campus.
I urge each of you to prayerfully consider what this might look like in your life, and how you can help to build safety and belonging in our community. I would suggest that abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice includes our willingness to stand up for what is right and address racist language and behavior, or any other kind of discriminatory language and behavior, swiftly when it occurs.
Elder Soares urges us to “Have the moral courage to stand firm in obeying God’s will, even if you have to stand alone.” Our BYU statement on belonging purports that we strive to create a community “whose hearts are knit together in love” (Mosiah 18:21), where “our interactions create and support an environment of belonging” and where “all relationships reflect devout love of God and a loving, genuine concern for the welfare of our neighbor.” This certainly includes listening, educating, and being aware, but must also include action, as we seek to know how to fulfill our duty to uplift, empower, and serve. While always striving to act in a manner consistent of a disciple of Christ, we must be firm and steadfast in “rooting out racism” and other similar evils.
We love each of you and feel blessed to embark on this journey with you as we strive to build a community where the Savior would desire to dwell. We are here for you when you need us, and we continue to offer prayers on your behalf.
Have a wonderful semester!
Dean, BYU College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences