Opinion: BYU campus not the friendliest place on earth

I never go to the Brigham Young University campus. It isn’t that I have very much against it. After all, it’s lovely in the fall. The bookstore is a hundred times better than ours could ever be — I mean, I bought gold shoes there…cute gold shoes — and I enjoy visiting the offices of The Daily Universe to imagine how nice it would be to work in a newspaper office that has been remodeled some time after 1957.

Other than that, I used to feel, for the most part, that I had no good reason to be there. However, despite my desire to distance myself, the volleyball version of the Holy War brought me down to the campus on a recent Friday night.

The trip to Happy Valley started out innocently enough. Sure, sports editor Tony Pizza, photographer Tyler Cobb and I were wearing University of Utah sweatshirts while walking through the middle of the busy BYU campus, but it was all in good fun — or so we thought.

After about 20 dirty looks and one comment that we shouldn’t be near a building because “that’s where the religious stuff happens,” I was discouraged. We were just trying to have a little fun in the hours prior to the U playing BYU in volleyball. Instead, we felt unwelcome in a place that, as far as I am concerned, should be the friendliest place on Earth.

I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but with an outfit involving the letters “U,” “T,” “A” and “H,” I mighty as well have been Roberta McCain repeating my thought on Latter-day Saints while walking through the halls of the Joseph Smith building at the Y.

It is my belief that most people of my religion would agree how important it is to be friendly. One wrong word and you could be responsible for someone’s lasting, bad impression of who and what a Latter-day Saint person is usually like. In all honesty, if I didn’t know better — and if I weren’t LDS — I’d be telling everyone I knew exactly what was said to me on campus that day.

Luckily, I do know better, and some other people helped me affirm my notions on kindness later in the day.

We lost the volleyball match. It was a shame. Following the loss, there was the potential for a little fun at a post-game dance. The scene was like nothing I had ever witnessed. They had dance cops — which I had previously regarded as a myth — to make sure people’s moves weren’t too scandalous.

After moments, my posse and I had just about had our fill, but upon exiting the building, we saw a man sitting in a tree looking lonely.

Neil was his name, and just as my group on that day, he was treated poorly by someone at the Y. He had asked to dance with a woman who brushed him off, causing him to retreat to the limb of a tree rather than face possible rejection again.

I felt Neil’s frustration. It’s hard to go out with the intention of having fun only to have a person with no consciousness of my feelings treat me poorly. In my relating to Neil, I realized something: No matter where you are, even if you’re on the campus of a private LDS educational institution, people are going to treat you any way they see fit. It’s important to recognize that and then remember to do unto others.

We talked Neil down from the tree — we even found him a woman to dance with — and as we watched him walk back through the gym doors, I knew that despite all the dirty looks and lost games, all was not a loss.

We showed at least one person at the Y that people from the U really know how to treat a stranger — no matter where they come from.

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