In Faculty and Staff, Students

The College launches an initiative to remind students that “You Belong Here. You Matter Here.”

From April 5 until April 9, the College’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Committee (DIA) is launching a special “You Belong Here, You Matter Here” initiative to help students feel welcomed and valued in the college — particularly during finals, a stressful time for students.

Professor Kris Peterson

Here’s a quick take on the initiative from two faculty from the DIA Committee: Keely Song (KS) from the Department of Dance and Kris Peterson (KP) from the Department of Theatre and Media Arts.

What is “You Belong Here. You Matter Here.”?

KS: It is a six-word reminder of why we are here and who we do this for.  

KP: “You Belong Here and You Matter Here” is a way for us to communicate to the students in our college and our individual departments. It is a way to recognize students and the challenges they are going through; not only in the global pandemic, but in general. It is our message as a college to students, but also a message we hope to spread through social media to a larger audience. 

Where does this phrase come from and why was it chosen?

KS: I believe the theme was inspired by the BYU Race, Equity, and Belonging Committee. Many of us loved how they included “Belonging” in the title and so “You Belong Here” was then paired with “You Matter Here” to show not only do you belong but your voice (art, movement, music, creativity, innovation) matters within our creative spaces too.  

KP: We had discussions in our committee meeting about what we wanted our students to know in the wake of some of the social justice movements going on. We wanted to create a message that showed how much we value students as artists and people. “You Belong Here” speaks to how they matter to our college as artists and as creators, and “You Matter” shows that we value them as human beings in their uniqueness and creativity. 

What are the goals of the initiative?

Courtesy of Keely Song

KS: This is an invitation and a reminder to reach out beyond ourselves and invite others into our spaces. I believe it is a practice on intentionality, especially during this stressful time as things are wrapping up at the end of the semester. It can become so easy to be caught up in the business of college life that we forget the details of human connection. “You Belong Here” and “You Matter Here” nudges us back to relationships. As a parent, one of the most endearing things is to hear my boys yell, “Mom, look at me! Take a picture!” and “Mom, watch this, Mom, are you watching? Really watch me!” Kids know the difference if we are really watching and fully invested in them, and so do adults. Thus, the goal or personal commitment I have for myself is to be more committed in seeing others and my students’ unique attributes and talents.

KP: Our goal initially was to create something immediate to quickly communicate to students while we work on other initiatives. We have ongoing initiatives we are working on, but this is one we felt could and should go out straight away. 

What are some ways faculty and staff are participating in this campaign?

KS: Some faculty are submitting videos, other faculty are posting these phrases in their Zoom meetings, some are emailing students directly, and then others including myself are repeating them as daily mantras. I have repeated these phrases over the last several months in hopes that when I talk to students, they feel my commitment to them and my genuine sincerity in my compliments and encouragement to them. 

KP: Last semester, we had a toolkit provided by the College that helped us create Zoom backgrounds and visuals. And for a week, we publicized the campaign for the faculty. This semester, we are looking at making it more personal with faculty videos of personal messages to give a voice directly to the students.

Why is this important to the DIA committee?

KS: It has been almost a year since I began serving on the DIA committee. I am a junior faculty who is very new to the academic scene. There are a lot of things I don’t know and many mistakes and course corrections I have had to make. However, one thing I know for certain is that my colleagues from all the departments across the college and those in the dance department deeply love the students. There are developments and initiatives we are discussing in the DIA committee that are taking time, but I promise we are working hard. In the meantime, we wanted to do something more immediate and express our commitment to our students and the love we (faculty and staff) have for them. 

KP: Some of our initiatives take time, but we love our students. We love what they create; we love their good hearts. This is something we wanted to make sure that no matter what happens, the students come first for us. We are committed to doing this work. The people on the committee are aware and are committed to doing the work alongside the students and faculty. 

Students can view the “You Belong Here. You Matter Here.” videos from faculty and staff via social media on the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications accounts.

 

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