Welcome Meetings represent a perfect opportunity for managers to teach important principles and guidelines, build and/or strengthen relationships with students, and set a general tone for the property at the outset of a new semester. Although Welcome Meetings can be conducted in a variety of ways, three approaches have been found to be most effective: Apartment Visits, Small Group Gatherings, and Large Group Gatherings. It is highly recommended that managers adopt one or more of these approaches. Key objectives, guidelines, and general instructions for each approach are outlined below. Managers can adapt an approach to meet the specific needs of their students.
In short, Welcome Meetings should favor principle-based dialogue over rules-heavy instruction. That does not mean that rules cannot be communicated and discussed; but, understanding the principle of integrity, for example, will influence a young person’s behavior far more than simply reading or being read the rule that dictates curfew. The Lord’s ultimate desire is for His children to learn to govern themselves by true principles.
First: Apartment Visits
Objective: Create an intimate setting where managers and teaching companionships can engage students in a guided discussion, see their apartment up close, and observe early roommate interaction.
Mode of Implementation:
- Invite student employees or volunteers, assistant managers or property managers, and/or ecclesiastical leaders (e.g., bishops, elders quorum presidencies, Relief Society presidencies) to serve as teaching companionships.
- Assign each companionship to a specific number of apartments. Set aside enough time for each companionship to spend approximately 20 minutes in each assigned apartment.
- Emphasize to the companionships that apartment visits are to be conducted in a way that truly engages roommates in a discussion. This can be accomplished most effectively through inspired questions that prompt roommates to consider the practical application of gospel-centered principles.
- Prepare each companionship to discuss any one of the following topics:
- The guiding principles of Student Living (love, shared responsibility, and mutual respect) and how they are manifested in the apartment (see “Guiding Principles” in the Student Living Guidebook).
- Lesson One: “Building Zion Together” found in the Student Living Guidebook.
- Lesson Two: “Apartment Unity” found in the Student Living Guidebook.
- Lesson Five: “Personal Honor and Integrity” found in the Student Living Guidebook.
- “Becoming Through Student Living” found in the Student Living Guidebook.
- Provide each companionship with goal sheets to distribute to the apartments and ask them to invite roommates to set goals consistent with the topic(s) discussed.
- Ask each companionship to invite roommates to hold regular Apartment Council.
Second: Small Group Gatherings: (no more than 30 students to be effective)
Objective: Create a setting in which students can comfortably interact while discussing the principles of Student Living and committing to a collective effort to build Zion within their respective apartments and throughout the complex.
Mode of Implementation:
- Prepare an agenda that includes a series of questions or a few practical scenarios that naturally invites a discussion centered on the principles of Student Living. Plan to meet for 40-45 minutes.
- If needed, show a Student Living video at some point during the discussion to introduce the principles of Student Living, invite the spirit, reinforce a comment, or set the stage for a deeper discussion. Student Living videos can be found on the Housing & Student Living website (www.byui.edu/housing). Click on “Student Living” from the homepage.
- Invite students to share feelings and insights throughout the discussion. Encourage students to share experiences in which they applied the principles of Student Living in their apartments. Ask meaningful and purposeful questions. Avoid questions that only require a “yes” or “no” resonse. Dig deep to stimulate real thought and internalization. A few examples of questions include the following:
- Why is “love” so important to an apartment?
- What does “love” actually look like in an apartment? How is it manifested day in and day out?
- In what ways does the principle of “shared responsibility” extend beyond merely doing dishes or cleaning the apartment?
- How does “shared responsibility” relate to being your brother’s or sister’s keeper?
- What does “mutual respect” look like in an apartment?
- How does living the standards of the gospel and the tenets of the Honor Code demonstrate “mutual respect”?
- What happens when roommates are casual in their commitment to the Honor Code?
- Refrain from making presentation! This is intended to be a discussion. It’s possible to facilitate an entire discussion using only questions sprinkled with quotes from the Student Living Guidebook, references to relevant passages of scripture, and/or excerpts from other gospel resources that reinforce the principles of Student Living.
- You may consider dividing the time with ecclesiastical leaders. Bishops or other ward leaders can be invited to facilitate a portion of the discussion at your discretion. If you adopt this approach, make sure to prepare and plan together so that all participating parties are unified and understand the desired outcomes.
Three: Large Group Gathering (essential for large complexes, but do not exceed 75 people)
Objective: Involve several students in discussing the importance of creating and strengthening a culture of love, shared responsibility, and mutual respect in each apartment and throughout the complex. Identify specific practices and extend specific invitations and commitments that will lead to such a culture.
Mode of Implementation:
- Prepare an agenda that increases students’ understanding of Student Living, engages them in a series of scenarios where the principles of Student Living can be naturally applied, and strengthens their commitment to building Zion in their apartments. Plan to meet for approximately 45 minutes.
- Following a brief welcome/introduction, divide the large group into smaller groups and assign members of your staff or other trusted students to serve as group leaders. The group leaders must be trained prior to the Welcome Meeting so they fully understand their role with their respective group and what needs to be accomplished.
- Show a Student Living video to introduce the principles of Student Living, invite the spirit, and set the stage for the subsequent group discussions. Make sure the groups are already divided and seated in their respective areas prior to showing the video. Student Living videos can be found on the Housing & Student Living website (www.byui.edu/housing). Click on “Student Living” from the homepage.
- Equip the group leaders with a few questions to ask their groups following the video to prompt a meaningful discussion. Examples of good questions can be found under the “Small Group Gatherings” section on the preceeding page. The group leaders should not dominate the discussion, but rather encourage participation from each member of the group and keep the discussion focused on the topic at hand.
- Following the questions, the group leaders can pose certain scenarios that prompt additional discussion. The group leaders should be adept at connecting the principles of Student Living (love, shared responsibility, and mutual respect) to the group members’ responses to the scenarios. Some examples of real-life, practical scenarios are listed below. The manager and the group leaders should determine in adavance which scenarios they would like to present to the groups (either from the list below or others that would be beneficial to discuss).
- A roommate has invited a member of the opposite sex back to his/her room. How would you handle the situation?
- You have a couple of roommates who do not participate in any apartment-related activities. They separate themselves from the group and spend time in their room(s). What would you do to build unity in your apartment?
- A certain roommate has poor personal hygiene practices and seldom showers or performs any self-care. Sometimes the roommate’s body odor is offensive to you and others in the apartment. How would you approach this roommate and what would you do to help?
- One roommate is casual about keeping curfew and often comes in late. You’ve tried to teach this roommate in a lighthearted, casual way but he/she has not changed his/her behavior. What do you do now?
- On Sundays you’ve noticed that a roommate or two violate dress and grooming standards for church meetings. For example, the skirt is shorter than it is on weekdays or the facial hair is more prominent on Sundays than on any other day of the week. What would you do?
- You notice that a roommate has some edgy posters, DVDs, and reading material in his/her room. He/she is often up late on the computer and you suspect that he/she is involved in viewing pornography. What action would you take?
- Your neighbors are planning a costume party that is reported to include a deejay, black lights, and “crazy” music. You’ve been invited but feel that the party is not going to reflect BYU-Idaho standards for dress and behavior. What would you do?
- You are aware of a roommate who is engaging in activities of self-harm. He/she has had a rough home life and you know that he/she is struggling emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. How would you address this situation?
- A friend is planning a co-ed camping trip next weekend. You are invited to attend. This is not a campus- or ward-sponsored event and you know that it compromises a university standard. What would you do?
- An engaged roommate has his/her fiancée over for several hours every day. They eat lunch and dinner together (often leaving a mess) and have taken up “residency” on the couch. There is seldom a time that the fiancée is not present. You’re beginning to feel uncomfortable in your own apartment. What would you do?
- You have two roommates who seem to always be watching TV shows or movies that portray sexuality, intense violence, and/or use profanity including taking the Lord’s name in vain. You’re a bit scared to approach these roommates because, after all, they are adults and have both served full-time missions. What do you do?
- With 5-10 minutes left, ask all of the groups to direct their attention back to you. At this time you can ask a group or two to share their response(s) to a certain scenario, share some closing remarks that ties everything together, or do a combination of both.
- Invite all students to make specific commitments that will foster a culture in which the principles of Student Living prevail throughout the complex.
Note: You may or may not have time to do both #4 and #5 in a large group setting. Determine in advance what may be most beneficial and what you plan to accomplish in the small groups.