President Nelson stressed the importance of civility when discussing sensitive topics in his General Conference address on Sunday afternoon. He admonished the saints to eliminate contention and promote “dignified dialogue” instead of the barbs that are common in today’s political rhetoric.
On BYU campus, the BYU Public Health department is helping to provide a blueprint for healthy discussion through its Campus Conversation initiatives. The sponsored events bring students together to talk about current issues in an open but structured environment.
Students sit together in multiple small groups with a moderator to facilitate the discussion and establish rules for the conversation. The students then go around answering the questions from the event with those at their table. The environment of respect helps to foster an open environment of communication and respect.
These conversations give BYU’s politically diverse student body a chance to say their true opinions about pressing issues. For many, this is one of the few places where students can debate controversial topics because their courseload may not include many environments to do so.
At one of the events, students discussed cancel culture. With dogmatic rhetoric ruling public discourse, according to a Buckley Institute survey, “63% of students polled reported feeling intimidated in sharing opinions different than that of their peers — also a record high and a jump of 13% from the 2021 survey.” These conversations represent an effort from BYU to help students feel more comfortable sharing their opinions.
Students also discussed ideas for how speech can be facilitated across campus and how cancel culture affects BYU students.
More conversations are scheduled in April.
Written by: Thomas Olsen
Senior Contributor at The Cougar Chronicle
The Cougar Chronicle is an independent student-run newspaper and is not affiliated with Brigham Young University or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.