BYU NewsNet had the privilege of showing President Cecil O. Samuelson the workings of their integrated newsroom Friday, Feb. 6.
Prior to a tour, Samuelson answered questions from student reporters on topics ranging from BYUSA elections to understanding the privilege students have to study here.
Samuelson is impressed with the quality of the BYUSA elections and the campaigns that have been spirited by “wonderful people who are willing to serve.”
He commented that students often are not appreciative enough of the opportunities that have been provided for them to study here.
“We are the beneficiaries of the faithful tithe payers around the whole world, and they might not feel very sorry for us for some of the things we worry most about: ”that I might have to walk from LaVell Edwards stadium to a class because the president won”t provide me a parking place right next to my classroom,”” he said.
Samuelson focused on the responsibility of students to represent BYU in a positive light. The students” actions at a church-sponsored university directly reflect upon The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“You”ve all signed a statement saying that you”ll abide by the honor code,” Samuelson said. “I think that it should not come as a surprise to anybody that this institution is supported by the tithing funds of the church. Therefore the church has the right, not only the organizational church but the members around the world, that those who sup at the table provided from those, most of whom have much less than any of us have, that we will not be doing things that will be detrimental or degrading to the church.”
Aside from the actions of a few, the brethren in Salt Lake are pleased with BYU students. Samuelson encouraged students to uphold their standards and continue in the excellence they have been characterized to have in the past.
“They [the brethren] would like us to be the best that we can be,” he said. “To do all that we can, both individually and collectively, to advance the university and to be supportive of the mission of the church while being supportive of the individuals.”
He repeated several times that students represent the church and those not familiar with the church see BYU and its actions as direct representation of the standards of the church. Samuelson asked that all students be mindful of this and act accordingly.
Expansion has been a constant topic of debate at BYU. While it is unlikely that the number of buildings on campus will increase, the administration is looking to increase the BYU experience in other ways.
“The brethren have said we need to do whatever we can to make an experience at BYU available to as many people as possible,” Samuelson said. “That”s why before I got here we worked very hard on our spring and summer term programs and our distance learning and why we encourage some of you to graduate and move on.”
When questioned about the alleged alteration of athletic photos at BYU, Samuelson said: “I don”t know if we have a policy to censure. But we do have a policy to try to be accurate, we do have a policy to try to be careful and be thoughtful, and we do have a policy to really get at what”s happening rather than trying to compete with other people for headlines that may be misleading.”
“We are actually in the process of reviewing some of our policies,” said Carri Jenkins, assistant to president for University Communications. “What was called into question was a media guide. Those photos that go out to the media we do not manipulate in any way.”
Jenkins said the photos come directly from the University Communications office and are sent to journalists to be used locally and nationally for publicity. She said while some liberties are taken, the photos sent from their office are not manipulated. They are still reviewing their policies to ensure that high ethical standards are being upheld and “are looking at how we can come up with a policy that will meet the standards of this university.”
“The real question is are we concerned about standards, are we concerned about integrity, are we concerned about consistency, the answer is yes … I hope that you will have as high standards for yourselves as you do for everybody else,” Samuelson said.