President Cecil O. Samuelson and his wife, Sharon, addressed students Tuesday morning in the Marriott Center in the winter semester opening devotional. They told students why they appreciate BYU and encouraged them to be stronger in their studies as well as in their commitment to the Honor Code.
“We love the people we meet at BYU,” Sister Samuelson said. “This includes, of course, the students, faculty, staff and administration, but also the many loyal supporters, donors and friends who contribute in such significant and diverse ways.”
President Samuelson expressed his appreciation and love for the ‘Spirit of the Y,’ and the beauty and functionality of the campus, including the miracles that have produced so many significant facility developments.
Sister Samuelson reminded students of the mission statement of BYU and its dramatic difference from other university mission statements. The mission of Brigham Young University is to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life and the aims of a BYU education are to be spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, character building and leading to lifelong learning and service.
“In a similar vein, we are very grateful for the BYU Honor Code,” President Samuelson said. He explained that the Honor Code “is not based on regulatory control by the administration but rather is a commitment of those accepting the opportunity to be part of the BYU community to live lives of honor.” The expectation, he said, is that each person will be self-policing in their compliance to the Honor Code.
“We have all promised to live our lives in certain ways which admittedly may be at variance with some of the slipping standards of the world. We have promised to be honest in all of our dealings, treat others and the institution with respect, and be personally responsible for all dimensions of our conduct and behavior. Some aspects may seem more important or relevant than others. But, like the Word of Wisdom, living the Honor Code brings blessings that result from obedience to high standards. In our case, by signing our names we have promised not only our conformity but also that we understand the BYU standards of honor and willingly will live them,” President Samuelson said.
“One of the continual challenges of the Honor Code for some is trying to decide how far to push the envelope or how close to the line to walk with respect to matters which they might consider less consequential than major violations,” Sister Samuelson said. “As you walk across campus and are in classrooms and buildings, you will unfortunately see just a few otherwise attractive and bright students who seem to fail to grasp the importance of modesty in their dress. I hope you will realize, if you do not already, the vital importance of modesty in dress and apparel…. Please remember that modesty is much more a matter of attitude and respect than it is of hair length, necklines, hem line or spandex stretching.”
President Samuelson praised those student performers, athletes and others in the public eye who represent the school and church so well and encouraged everyone to remember that no one is ever completely “off stage.”
President and Sister Samuelson also expressed appreciation for devotionals and young single adult wards, as well as the mentoring opportunities at BYU and asked students to make each a priority. They also urged students to better understand the importance of studying for their classes.
Sister Samuelson said the president has mentioned that some students seem shocked about the expectation that they will spend at least two hours studying and preparing outside of class for every hour in class.
“What that specific preparation is and how you study will vary,” she said. “What will not change, however, is that it is impossible for you to get all you can from your classes and course work if you do not make the necessary independent effort to read, study, think, read and study some more both before and after class.”
President Samuelson said the admonitions he offers and the appreciation he feels for BYU and its students are inseparable.
“A day does not go by for me since we have been here at BYU that I do not think of President Gordon B. Hinckley’s instruction to me to help BYU become the best it can be. As I have thought about that general charge, it becomes clearer to me that this is a very special place. We have not yet achieved our full possibilities but we have made progress. If the Lord’s prophets are convinced that our potential will be realized, then we should be confident too and also then be committed to doing our parts, individually and collectively, to make it so. I am persuaded that all of this is true and thus my appreciation for BYU is not constrained.”