BYUSA tells stories through Humans of the Y


The people of Brigham Young University can now learn each other’s stories through a new photo series on Instagram and Facebook.

Alyssa Lyman
Tyler Bak was one of the first people featured by Humans of the Y. BYUSA’s newest photo series was inspired by Humans of New York. (Alyssa Lyman)

BYUSA recently launched Humans of the Y, inspired by the popular blog Humans of New York. The blog features strangers who share experiences and insights on New York City’s sidewalks. A BYUSA photographer is now roaming campus with a similar purpose: finding people in the BYU community who have a story to tell.

Kelsey Edwards, BYUSA’s executive director of social media campaigns, said students will enjoy Humans of the Y because they are naturally curious about other people’s lives.

“People want to know more than what meets the eye,” Edwards said. “They want to see more of what BYU is.”

Edwards said BYUSA is posting these photos and captions to improve campus culture and unify the BYU population.

“This will open people up to understanding each other better, to being more aware of other people and their lifestyles,” Edwards said. “It embodies the idea of unity and bringing us all together.”

Alyssa Lyman, Humans of the Y photographer, has already spoken with several people. She said they feel comfortable opening up even though they don’t know her.

“You’ve hardly met them, so you don’t have any pre-judgments,” Lyman said. “They can just tell you anything.”

Lyman said asking thought-provoking questions is the key to uncovering stories and encouraging people to share their insights.

“Not everyone’s going to tell me their deepest, darkest secrets,” Lyman said. “But I try to ask questions that get people thinking about who they are and what they believe.”

Some of the students already spotlighted have talked about things like friendship advice, dating insecurities and life goals.

BYU is a fairly homogenous campus; in Fall 2014, 84 percent of students were non-minority and 98.7 percent were LDS, according to Y Facts. Lyman said she wants to feature BYU’s subcultures as well as its majority.

“Most of us are white LDS people, and it’s good to show that,” Lyman said. “But we also need to find people who don’t fit that mold, because they are also (at) BYU.”

Parker Hadley, BYUSA social media programs director, said Lyman has already collected several interesting stories.

“These stories have been so good,” Hadley said. “I’m reading them like, ‘Who wouldn’t want to read this?’ It’s uplifting, it’s relatable, it’s cool.”

Hadley said the Humans of the Y posts are already getting more likes than anything else BYUSA puts on Instagram.

“That shows me that people want to see this,” Hadley said. “This is valuable content.”

Humans of the Y is one way that BYUSA is working to improve its social media this year. Students can keep up with the Humans of the Y posts by following @byusa on Instagram and liking BYU Student Service Association (BYUSA) on Facebook.

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