Many think of BYU as a utopia, with students and faculty abiding by the Honor Code, but just like every other school, it has its share of problems. For instance, my friend from Helaman Halls says students there are not very friendly. Rarely do others invite him to events, games, activities or to simply hang out. He said, “They’ll say hi and all that, but they won’t actually talk to me. I don’t know … I think people think I’m slow or something.” As he said this, I could see, hear and feel his sadness — nobody should feel this way. Growing up with him, I know the worth he has as a human being, but people fail to give him a chance. To create a healthier environment, students at BYU should focus their efforts on reducing exclusion.
Exclusion harms human beings, causing loneliness and pain. After being turned away or left out, people feel there is something wrong with them that repels others. Feeling this way further restricts an individual’s ability to socialize because they now feel unwilling or unable to; they feel inadequate and different. In turn, these feelings lower a person’s confidence and self-esteem, causing emotional suffering, unhappiness, depression and, in severe cases, suicidal thoughts. Last Sunday, a girl in my ward went up to the pulpit to give a talk. However, she did not talk about her assigned topic. Instead, she cried and poured her heart out to the ward, saying how lonely she was, how nobody talked to her and how she needed human contact. Nobody should feel this way.
People often stay with peers who share similar interests, cultures and values, and if somebody does not share the same beliefs, people shun them. However, our backgrounds, hardships and differences contribute to our present personality and make us unique individuals who deserve love and acceptance. By accepting others we enlarge our social circles, uplift others and learn from each other.
We can easily include those left out; all we have to do is be a true friend. Without friendliness, introverted individuals, who rarely seek out others, have even more difficulty connecting with others. By simply saying hello and striking up conversations we can make others feel comfortable and expand our social circles. By extending invitations, we can uplift those feeling excluded and also inspire those around us to do the same. We can choose to acknowledge differences in a respectful, accepting manner, look past those differences and see people for who they are. By doing these things, we, the student body, can accomplish our job to love everyone as Jesus Christ would. We can reduce exclusion and create an even better BYU.