Heritage Halls residents express their views through window decorations

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See also: Free speech at BYU? It depends on who is rating it

Heritage Halls residents wear their hearts on their sleeves — and in their windows.

During Winter Semester, BYU students living in the on-campus housing complex are using flags, posters and sticky notes to publicly display their political opinions and support for various candidates or social movements. Rainbow flags and Black Lives Matter signs appear on buildings alongside Trump flags and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, a Revolution-era relic popularized in recent years to protest government overreach.

Mel Harshberger’s window is decorated to show LGBTQ BYU students that they are loved. (Karina Andrews)

Mel Harshberger is among those Heritage Halls residents who have chosen to make their stances public. In honor of the recent Rainbow Day on campus, Harshberger decorated her living room window with a mural of a rainbow spilling from a bucket labeled with BYU’s Y, accompanied by the words, “Jesus said love everyone.”

“I made this mural as kind of a shout out to queer students who felt alienated on campus,” she said. “I wanted them to know that they are loved on campus and that our Heavenly Father and Jesus loves them just as they are.”

Feedback on her display has been overwhelmingly positive, she told the Universe, with people stopping by to tell her how much they love the mural.

“I had people who told me that they cried when they saw it,” she said.

Politics and social issues aren’t the only things people are displaying, however. Some students use their windows to show off artwork, movie quotes and characters, encouraging affirmations and even their phone numbers, sometimes accompanied by invitations to game nights or other gatherings.

The window displays became so popular that Heritage Halls resident assistants held a window design contest in March. Each apartment was given two packs of sticky notes to use in their design, and residents voted online for their favorite designs.

Heritage Halls resident Cameron Carlson and his roommates won their building’s division of the sticky note contest with their Mutual-inspired design, complete with the dating app’s logo and some encouragement to “swipe up.” 

Heritage Halls resident Cameron Carlson and his roommates won a competition for their window design. (Karina Andrews)

“You know, you’ve got to appeal to the audience,” Carlson said, adding that he and his roommates are all “avid Mutual users.”

The contest wasn’t the first time Carlson and his roommates had decorated their window. Their living room window has also been home to a giant smiley face, an elf on the shelf, and a cardboard cut-out of baby Yoda.

“We’ve got a big window, right? Well, you might as well have fun with it,” Carlson said.

Heritage Halls operational manager Laura Bond said there are no set rules for what residents can or cannot display in their windows; they simply have to adhere to on-campus housing community standards. Bond said Heritage Halls has had to ask some students to remove window displays that were “disruptive to the community.”

“Flags are allowed, and messages are, as long as they’re deemed appropriate,” Bond told the Universe. “When messages are questioned that are up, then we will look at it as a community standards issue.”

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