Gospel Centered Communities
"And the Lord called his people ZION, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there were no poor among them." -Moses 7:18
The people of Enoch, described in the Pearl of Great Price, are excellent examples of a gospel-centered community. But have you ever stopped to think about how the people of Enoch came to be "of one heart and one mind"? How they were able to dwell together in righteousness without the selfishness, envy, or contention that plagues countries, neighborhoods, and even families today? We know that building a Zion community must have taken some time. Most likely, the people of Enoch spent a lot of time getting to know and understand each other by working together to solve problems, and talking about individual differences and common goals.
This year you will have the exciting opportunity to learn firsthand what it takes to build a gospel-centered community on many levels. From the beginning, you will begin to build relationships with your roommate(s), your floor community, your hall community, your housing area community, and the Residence Halls Association (RHA), whose membership is comprised of all Residence Hall staff and students.
What does building a gospel-centered community mean for you? It means that you have the opportunity to learn a great deal about yourself and about other people. You will work together to solve problems and talk about individual differences and common goals. In doing so, you get the chance to help create an environment that will help you academically, socially, and interpersonally. What's the key to this kind of success? The answer is simple: interaction.
You and Your Roommate(s)
You'll find very soon that you have things in common with your roommate(s). You will find that you have differences as well. In order to help you make the best of your similarities and differences, we have developed a way to help you begin establishing helpful interactions with those you live with: weekly room/suite/apartment community standards meetings.
While the idea of a community standards meeting with your roommates may sound overly formal, in reality it is an excellent way for you and those living closest to you to establish clear and open lines of communication. The "meeting" concept is used to illustrate the importance of making sincere and thoughtful agreements. You'll share ideas and opinions on music, sleep and study hours, guests, and even food. With your community standards, you can also begin to set up expectations in regards to keeping your living areas clean.
So what happens if your standards don't work out right away? Therein lies the beauty of the community standards process. With a little more interaction and discussion, you can change your community standards over time so everyone involved can agree to a common set of arrangements. Your resident assistant will approach you within the first few days of the semester to set up a time for your first community standards meeting. The RAs have good insights and useful ideas for setting up an effective set of community standards.
Your Floor or Hall Community
In order for you and the people living on your floor or in your hall to build a gospel-centered community based on integrity and respect, everyone must give some effort to the process of interaction. That means you should be willing to share your interests, concerns, and ideas with the people living around you while they do the same. It's difficult for members of a community to help one another without having an understanding of and appreciation for each other's needs and wants. With eight months of classes, tests, homework, and other new experiences ahead of you, it is definitely in your favor to live in a community of people who know you and what you're about.
To get this process started, the residents of your floor or hall will meet on a regular basis. At your community standards meetings, you will have the opportunity to discuss areas of concern, ideas for group activities, agreements for how you will live together, and other subjects that impact your community. For instance, you will soon find that people have differing interpretations of acceptable noise levels. One of the challenges for each community will be to establish what level of noise will be acceptable to everyone in that community. Again, the importance of these interactions is to establish mutual understanding so that individuals can live together more successfully.
As a Member of Your Community, You Should Expect the Ability To:
- Study without undue interference, unreasonable noise, or other distractions
- Sleep without undue disturbance from noise and distractions
- Have others respect your personal belongings
- Live in an environment kept clean by those who live in it
- Have access to your room and to facilities provided for residents
- Discuss concerns with Residence Life staff members who can assist you
- Have others respect your needs and concerns
Knowing and fulfilling your responsibilities as a resident can help you ensure that these expectations are met. Your responsibilities include:
- Treating other residents and staff members with respect and consideration
- Recognizing that a community cannot exist if any individual is excluded
- Understanding and abiding by all policies and regulations necessary for the Residence Hall and University communities to function
- Responding to all reasonable requests of fellow residents
- Responding to and cooperating with residence life staff members
- Verbally expressing your views to the person(s) involved when you have concerns about their behavior
What happens when there is a problem within the floor or hall community? Good question. Obviously, there will be times over the course of the year when individuals violate the agreements, or standards, that the floor community has developed. Interaction is most often the best way to resolve these issues. Approaching the person to talk about the issue one-on-one can often lead to better understanding and communication. If that doesn't work, or if the issue is of general interest to the floor or hall community, a community meeting can be called by any member of the floor or hall community. This way, several community members can address the issue at hand. Your resident assistant and floor council can help to guide this process.
Your Floor or Hall Council
Getting involved with your floor or hall council is another way to have a positive impact on your floor or hall community. The floor or hall council is the first level of community leadership in the Residence Halls Association (RHA). Brigham Young University's RHA councils strive for the following:
- Build community within the residence halls through academic and social programs
- Promote recognition of outstanding on-campus residents and housing staff
- Develop leaders committed to the mission and aims of a BYU education
As a member of the floor or hall council, you will participate in active discussions about the floor or hall community, and represent the needs and concerns of community members to your housing area council and the RHA executive council. See the RHA website for more information.
Your Housing Area Community and Housing Area Council
While your floor or hall community is busy establishing agreements, building a floor or hall council, and getting to know and understand one another, the RHA council for your housing area will establish itself as the leadership of the housing area community. The housing area council includes representatives from the Residence Halls in the area and other executive officers.
RHA councils for Helaman Halls, Heritage Halls, and Wyview Park have the same goals as the floor and hall councils. They develop academic and social programs to build community in the housing area, plan recognition for outstanding students and staff in the area community, and develop leaders committed to the mission and aims of a BYU education. Area councils participate in active discussions about the area community and represent the needs and concerns of your community to the RHA executive council.
Of course, the area council can only fulfill these goals with the hard work of dedicated student leaders. This is where you come in. You can participate in the area council as a leader or as a volunteer on one of several committees. To apply for a position on the council, submit the RHA Council Application or call the RHA office at (801) 422-4534. You may also see the RHA website for more information.
The RHA Executive Council
As a member of the Residence Halls Association, your ideas are important and can be vital to the growth and success of the entire Residence Halls community. The RHA executive council is responsible to work with student issues and ideas for the entire on-campus housing community. The executive council meets weekly to discuss the concerns of the community. The executive council plans recognition for outstanding students and staff in the on-campus housing community, and develops leadership training programs for other leaders in the residence halls.
The executive council welcomes your ideas and involvement in building the on-campus community. You can participate as a leader on the executive council, or as a volunteer on one of several committees. To learn more about applying for an executive council position, call the RHA office at (801) 422-4534.
Your Role in RHA
As you can see, you now belong to many layers of community in the residence halls. By actively involving yourself in discussions on your floor or in your hall, with your area council, and with the executive council, you maximize your opportunity to help build gospel-centered communities on many levels. Remember, without your involvement, it's difficult for others to know about your ideas. With your voice, your energy, and your enthusiasm, this community is truly yours.