BYU students must try harder to be good neighbors

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    Don’t look at this as a giant pat on the back. Look at it as a little encouragement and a push in the right direction.

    Nov. 12, President Bateman gave some impressive evidence to support BYU’s “good neighbor” status in Provo.

    President Bateman was speaking to members of Provo’s commerce at the new Provo Towne Centre. In his speech, President Bateman said BYU’s direct expenditures in the local economy will reach $200 million this year.

    Using a multiplier factor of 1.63, these expenditures culminate to be an economic contribution of $326 million per year. President Bateman used updated statistics from an economic impact report conducted in 1996, which included other BYU areas that impact the Provo economy.

    BYU employs roughly 13,400 people and the Bookstore, with other BYU retail outlets, make BYU Provo’s second largest retailer, generating $23 million in sales tax annually. As of 1996, BYU students donated 66,000 community hours of service and filled 1,043 volunteer student teacher positions, numbers which have most likely increased over the last two years.

    The “Good Neighbor” report of 1996 first started with President Holland in 1986 and has continued to the present with the Nov. 12 announcement of increased BYU impact.

    “President Holland initiated the first study in 1986 to basically say that BYU wants to be seen as a good neighbor to Provo,” said Robert Parsons, who helped with the study in 1986 and is a professor of public management.

    The study was conducted 10 years later, in order to respond to reoccurring complaints, directed at BYU, by concerned Provo residents.

    Brent Harker, web communications director, headed up the impact survey in 1996 to put to rest complaints that BYU, as a tax exempt institution, doesn’t pay it’s way. “The carefully conducted survey proves that BYU’s impact is good and great,” he said.

    BYU does pay it’s way, but we shouldn’t accept it as a done deal. BYU students should go the extra mile. As President Hinckley said in a devotional address Sept. 17, 1996, “It is not enough to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others.”

    As individual “good neighbors” to Provo, BYU students need to strive for a higher quality of good.

    A good neighbor is one that is actively involved, serving, concerned, courteous and forgiving.

    As either a temporary or permanent resident here in Utah Valley, we have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference outside our BYU community.

    Be involved in City Council issues. Provo City Council meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in City Hall at 351 W. Center. They discuss and pass issues that affect students; be a part of that process.

    Serve more in Provo community. Already more than 66,000 hours of service are given annually. Divide that number by an estimated 30,000 students and it turns out to be a not-so-impressive 2.2 hours per year, per student. Make time each week to do more service for your Provo neighbors. Now, in this season of need, is the perfect time to lend a helping hand.

    Also, be courteous and forgiving to the permanent Provo residents around your home or apartment. This is their hometown; be respectful of that fact.

    “The university works very hard to keep good relations with Provo city. It’s a good working relationship,” Harker said.

    As students, let’s act as catalyst for that relationship.

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