As a 17-year-old freshman, I often felt out of place at BYU. In my first religion class, many of the questions posed by the professor were geared towards students who had served missions: “How did you teach this concept on your missions?” or “Was this something your investigators struggled with?” Often, I wanted to express my opinion on certain subjects, but since I hadn’t served a mission, I felt my input wasn’t wanted. I felt these questions excluded members of the class.
These types of questions are found in all types of classes, not just religion. In my civil engineering class, my professor would pose questions in the same way. In fact, sometimes class activities were based off of the fact that he assumed that all of us had served missions. Discussions like, “Turn to your neighbor and tell them about the worst missionary companion you had!” I felt awkward and out of place when this would happen, like I didn’t belong.
When questions are posed only for a certain group, it makes it difficult for the rest of us to feel included. It makes me feel like my voice isn’t wanted or needed and it makes me feel like an outsider. I’m sure that these questions also hurt those who aren’t members of the Church. People who are not members of the Church are already prone to feeling like outsiders, but when these missionary-specific questions arise, it can make them feel even more excluded.
I’m not arguing that questions for missionaries be omitted all together. In fact, returned missionaries need to share and feel appreciated. Instead, I’m suggesting that professors pose questions that are more open ended, such as, “How have you taught this concept in the past?” or “Turn to your neighbor and tell them about the worst mission companion or roommate you’ve had!” Rephrasing these questions will help everyone feel more included.
Friends with different political views
Have any of your friendships ended over a political Instagram post? In our experience, politics can cause a lot of animosity between different parties. Having friends with different political views can benefit your life in many ways. One of the most important benefits is humanizing the other party. We often blame the other side for this or that, but in the end, we are all human and do what we think is best. This, in turn, gives you more exposure to the other side. Having productive conversations about politics with people who believe other things gives you the ability to hear the other side and talk your ideas out. When you start talking with friends of different political views, we can start to see how the location you were raised and how you were raised can play into our beliefs. Ultimately, life is not about politics. We should focus on supporting and loving others and improving ourselves. We can improve ourselves by being more educated and open-minded through having friends of different political views.
Kennedy Banks, Eliza Hart, Jacob Johnson, Connor Young