Devotionals have been a BYU tradition since Karl G. Maeser’s presidency in the 1880s. Ed Adams, a professor in the Department of Communications, addressed students and faculty Tuesday, encouraging everyone to build good traditions.
Traditions have the ability to bind us generationally, said Adams. “Some traditions are fun and whimsical, and in unique ways work to unite people. Some, however, take us down unproductive paths and can even contribute to justifying sin.”
Referencing the musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” Adams quoted Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: “When we come to BYU we come to take our position on the roof, with violin in hand, and we declare to the rest of the world, "Tradition." Our tradition. BYU tradition. And that doesn't just mean ringing the victory bell after a ball game or lighting the Y at Homecoming, as fun and rewarding as those lesser traditions are. Indeed, lighting the Y doesn't mean a thing, doesn't justify the electricity it takes to do it, if the meaning behind that mountaintop symbol, ‘the spirit of the Y,’ is not manifest in each of our lives.”
Adams said there is a new trend occurring in some colleges in America. “There are football fans vying for the title of ‘friendliest fans.’ Booing is discouraged by some schools, visiting guests are invited to tailgating parties and opposing fans are welcomed by the home team fans.”
As a professional, Adams works in mass communication, which is concerned primarily with the impact of messages transmitted by various mass media. Areas of focus include the study of public opinion, public perception and media messages. Over the years, basic research in the field has found a relationship between group behavior in the public sphere and the public perception of that group.
Where traditions reflect on the BYU students who practice them, Adams counseled the student body to follow the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and change negative behaviors that lead them away from feeling the Spirit.
Adams encouraged students to work to make the university the kind of school in which opponents and the national media could proclaim BYU as both the toughest and friendliest place to play a game.
“As Elder Holland and Elder Scott suggest,” Adams said, “let us all, both personally and collectively, look at our traditions and the established way we do things and make sure they are in line with how the Lord would have us live, and if necessary, establish new traditions.”