Popular topics on campus over the last few weeks include the football team’s less-than-stellar offense, the beginning of mid-terms, the presidential race and, perhaps most infamously, caffeine.
At the center of much of the caffeine conversation has been Skyler Thiot, a senior advertising major from Dallas, Texas. Thiot created the Facebook page “BYU for Caffeine” on Aug. 30, just one day after the Church released a statement saying “the Church does not prohibit the use of caffeine.” The statement was subsequently updated to read that “the Church revelation spelling out health practices (Doctrine and Covenants 89) does not mention the use of caffeine.”
“I’m taking a social media class, and we had an assignment to create either something on Facebook or Twitter or some other social media site and to get 100 hits,” Thiot said. “So my thought was I could probably get 100 people to say there is a demand for (caffeine). So I started it and then I think we probably hit 100 likes after day 2. Then after the first week we had about 1,000 likes. The assignment went for two weeks, so by the second week we were at, like, 2,500 likes.”
Thiot said he was both surprised and pleased that the page’s popularity skyrocketed. The page had over 200,000 hits during the two weeks it was up. Due to time constraints and some harsh criticism, Thiot decided to take the “BYU for Caffeine” page down.
Adrian Klemme, assistant director of student leadership and adviser of SAC, said SAC hopes students are aware of their resources and representation on campus.
“At that point, it was taking a lot of effort to run. It was taking a ton of time,” Thiot said. “Plus, there were all these people just sending me tons of messages saying things like how terrible it was and that I should lose my ability to go to BYU and that I should get kicked out. Just all this stuff. It was really ridiculous. So then at that point I didn’t feel like it was worth it. I didn’t start it because I’m super rah-rah-rah about caffeine, I just really wanted to see if there was demand.”
Though Thiot said the cruel responses he got because of the page didn’t bother him, he said some of them were pretty outrageous.
“There was this lady that made a comment basically about how it’s not a commandment, but it’s a higher law that God expects you to live by,” Thiot said. “She’s like, ‘If they don’t serve caffeine in the temple, then we shouldn’t drink it.’ And that was my favorite comment. It actually made it into the Washington Post story. My response was, ‘Well, they don’t have fire trucks in the temple. That doesn’t mean God hates fire trucks.’”
However, Thiot said not all of the comments and messages were negative.
“I’d say the majority of it was positive, but for every positive thing you’d get, people would go and comment about how stupid everything was,” Thiot said. “I understand the people who came on the page and said this is a ridiculous thing because I kind of understood that. I mean, it was kind of ridiculous.”
After Thiot took the page down, there was speculation that BYU told him to do so. Fox 13 News actually contacted Thiot for an official statement on the issue.
“It was all speculation, but I kind of liked it, so I never refuted it,” Thiot said.
To add fuel to the flame, during the page’s two-week stint, Thiot had grown his hair out and donned a full-grown beard as part of his participation in the Church’s New Testament videos, which upset some caffeine antagonists.
“I had a beard that whole time I was getting interviewed. I looked pretty crazy,” Thiot said. “People were making a lot of comments. There’s actually a page that popped up that was against my page and the guy running it was like, ‘This kid doesn’t even follow the Honor Code. He’s a terrible person!’ It didn’t really bother me. I just thought it was funny.”
Though there is a lot of negativity surrounding the caffeine issue, Thiot said he didn’t create the page to incite a revolution or bring negative attention to BYU.
“When it went national, people just kind of looked at BYU and Utah in general and just thought, ‘That’s really dumb,'” Thiot said. “I’m not out here to make BYU look stupid. I love going to BYU. It’s a cool school, and they make my education really cheap, too. So I’m not complaining about BYU, I just thought it would be interesting to see if we could get this changed.”
Since Thiot shut down the page, he has had several offers to buy the page. He has declined all offers, however he says the page is part of his brand and image. Thiot also added that he does not intend to re-open the page.
“I’m just done with it. It was something I did, and I’m kind of proud of the fact we were able to do what we did, as far as people paying attention to it,” Thiot said. “But I don’t see any reason why I’d ever put it back up. I just don’t care enough. If other people want to keep moving forward, they’re welcome to.”