The need for BYU-Hawaii students to make an effort to get to know and understand members of the community, said a peacebuilding instructor, was brought up again after a post titled, “Example of BYUH student” on the Facebook page “Sell your stuff @ BYU-Hawaii,” caused friction between the campus and locals.
Posted on the page was a picture of a young female riding on her skateboard while holding a rope connected to a jeep, with comments posted below it from community members critizing students. However, the staff at the Office of Honor said they were unable to identify the girl as a student.
Similarly, a community member from Laie, Tofamamao Taulogo, said, “Everyone can’t be sure if they were actually BYUH students and we shouldn’t be attacking each other. We need to find the root of the problem and the solution. Whether they were students or not, we should handle it a better way.”
Taulogo added, “We were here before BYUH. We would love [the students] to stay, but it’s our home and [we] will protect it.”
Camron Stockford, a middle school teacher at Wheeler Intermediate and BYUH alumni, commented on withholding judgment on the person who posted on Facebook as well. “Meanwhile, don’t assume the one who posted the picture is a terrible person. I feel like some people who commented were bagging on the university and the students.” Stockford urged people to “learn to ask questions” and gather information before jumping to conclusions.
BYUH student and Community Field Director Viliame Talanoa, who is in charge of organizing service projects for the community, said the relationship between BYUH and the community is good. “We have held many service projects in the past, such as feeding the homeless, helping the food bank, and cleaning the cemetery.”
However, to prevent future conflict, Peacebuilding Instructor David Whippy said students should remember “people remember bad things more than good things. It’s human nature. One bad case could make the community feel all students are like that. So, even if we do a lot of service projects and help others, when [the community] sees a different side of the students, it can change their perception.” Whippy said students should learn to respect the land and home of Laie. “We are on a quest to go and learn about the community and understand each other’s perspective and culture.”
Taulogo added, “Get to know the community. Find out what is important to them and know their culture. Know who they are.”
Stockford said students and the community should work together. “We have the consistent amount of students who come in without cultural sensitivity. [Students] need to realize it’s a different place and not assume it will be like being back home, and at the same time, the community should be patient with them.” •