BYU’s committee on race, equity and belonging shares updates

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Students walk outside the Wilkinson Student Center during the first week of school. BYU’s Committee for Race, Equity and Belonging updated the campus community Thursday about its progress. (Preston Crawley)

BYU’s recently created Committee for Race, Equity and Belonging posted a story to the University’s Instagram account Thursday. The Instagram story outlined new updates and actions taken towards a more inclusive and equal campus culture.

The committee was created in June when President Worthen requested the creation of the Committee for Race, Equity and Belonging as a response to the demand for an increase of social justice and equality in the United States.

In this update, members of the committee shared what they have done already and have committed to do in the future to advance the progress being made on campus regarding race and equality. They committed to following President Russell M. Nelson’s charge to “root out racism” and “build bridges of understanding.”

Some of the actions being taken include plans to become a permanent committee on campus and working to synthesize and prioritize formal recommendations to be submitted to President Worthen by the end of the calendar year.

The committee stated they have read and categorized over 600 submissions outlining suggestions and personal experiences from the BYU community. Additionally, they have met with the BYU Black Student Union, the Black Alumni Society, and other students and alumni in an effort to better understand their experiences. Students and faculty are still able to visit the committee’s website to submit their own personal thoughts and suggestions for the committee to take into consideration moving forward.

“May we please be intentional with respect, care, concern, love and compassion that we show each other as we move forward in this new school year,” committee member Lita Little-Giddins said.

Although actions are being taken, students are eager to see change across the BYU campus.

Jacob Peterson, an undergraduate student at BYU, said he is not very aware of actions the school is taking to increase inclusivity and eliminate racism and discrimination on campus but does believe BYU should require all students to enroll in a course that covers racial inequality and social justice.

“These topics are briefly touched on in some classes but should be more incorporated into other classes, as well as taught directly in its own course, at least through a mandatory lecture series,” Peterson said.

Some students believe there is a need for an increase of inclusivity at BYU. “There’s such a discrepancy among the racial variation in our student body that I don’t think there’s an innate sense of belonging,” BYU student Elizabeth Sorenson said.

Sorenson hopes changes are made on campus and awareness is spread among the student body on how the committee is actively working to create equality at Brigham Young University.

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