In his April 2017 General Conference address, President Russell M. Nelson, leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “Disciples of Jesus Christ learn to stand out, speak up and be different from the world.” Students at BYU–Hawaii said by keeping the school’s dress and grooming standards, they can achieve that goal.
“Modesty is not just how we dress, it is how we act,” said Rabbanah Campos, a sophomore from the Philippines studying accounting. “It is something we learn as we progress through mortal life.” Campos shared the dress code has become part of who she is.
“This a church school and the mission of BYU–Hawaii is to help us become better disciples of Jesus Christ,” she explained. “We should desire to add to that mission and the dress code helps us achieve that.”
Seth Thomsen, a junior studying business management from Mililani, added the dress code helps build good habits for the future. “The world is changing, and standards are being relaxed,” he said. “Your appearance says a lot about yourself, especially for employers."
Tiana Wheeler, a senior studying integrated humanities from Hauula, said, “It is normal to have dress codes in companies and this is good practice for the future.”
She said the dress code helps students attain a more Christ-like appearance, and “not only will people immediately notice you dress differently, but also it can help your confidence and others’ confidence in you.”
Thomsen added the commitment to live the dress code comes before students arrive at BYUH. “You have the right to choose not to live the dress code, but you must deal with the consequences that can affect your future,” he said.
Thomsen said he hopes students will see the benefits the dress code has in the future. “The right path isn’t always the easiest path,” he said. “You represent the school, so whatever you do shows people what the school is about.”
Wheeler explained students can feel the Spirit more abundantly by keeping the dress code. “When you try to obey the standards, you gain blessings from it. To me, being in standards makes me happier and it is one less thing I must worry about,” she said.
Dalvin Keil, a junior studying computer science from Samoa, said he hoped students will abide by the standards and understand their actions affect more than just themselves. “I carry the responsibility of representing my family and the Lord,” he said. “Our families are making a sacrifice for us to be here. Keeping the dress standards shows not only our maturity, but also our willingness to obey.”
Keil said students must also realize they are in a church environment. “We must learn to accept the guidelines our leaders provide us,” he said. “If we promise to uphold that standard, we must do our best to uphold it.”
Campos noted students should not follow the dress code just because it’s a church standard. “It’s better to ask for a spiritual confirmation, talk to a leader about their concerns or even search for correct, updated information on these standards,” she said.
“Students must understand and desire to follow the dress code.” She said students must learn for themselves the importance of the dress code. “I always ask myself, ‘Do I look like a daughter of God or a daughter of the world?’”
Wheeler said students should try to be the best version of what God knows they can be. Rather than judging others on their outward appearance, she added, what is more important are their thoughts and actions. “Mental and spiritual growth are more important than physical appearance.”
Talking about how he helps others keep the dress code, Keil said, “I know students understand the standards. But if I have to, I tell them respectfully, ‘We are trying to respect the culture that the Church has set forth. There are people watching who may feel uncomfortable with what you are wearing.”
Keil said even though students want to express themselves through what they wear, it is our responsibility to hold each other accountable.
Wheeler explained she would like to see changes to the section of the dress code about wearing leggings. “Women want to wear leggings because they are comfortable and can look professional too,” she said. “It falls on the individual not to have impure thoughts when they see someone, especially a sister wear leggings.”
Campos said as the only member of the Church in her high school, people understood why she dressed the way she did, which helped her gain her peers’ trust. By following the dress code, “I know more people will respect me the same way my high school classmates did,” she said.
“I hope sisters can feel beautiful while maintaining the dress code,” Campos said. “My hope is I can inspire others to not only feel the Holy Ghost but also my happiness.”