Following President Kevin J Worthen's call for a committee to address issues of race and inequality at BYU, the committee has been mobilized and is meeting regularly with some initial updates to share.
One of the first matters of business for the committee was to come up with a name, and the committee decided on the BYU Committee on Race, Equity & Belonging.
First and foremost, committee members wanted to stress that issues of race was its first priority, and not other ancillary topics that could be tied to race as well as other issues.
Equity was important to emphasize because of the focus on fairness. While inequality will be looked at, the committee realizes that its work in a university setting is more about everyone being treated fairly instead of everyone being treated the same.
Belonging was another important emphasis. In thinking about BYU's unique mission, viewing ourselves and brothers and sisters and children of heavenly parents in an eternal global family, helping the BYU community feel belonging in that family is of utmost importance to the committee.
Along with the meaning behind the committee's name, the committee put together a mission statement to further outline the scope of their work.
Along with noting the charge from President Worthen as well as President Russell M. Nelson and the NAACP, the mission also outlines elements of listening to BYU's community members of color, gathering and assessing data, collaborating with BYU community members and providing recommendations.
Another important part of the committee's work will be providing updates, such as this, throughout its work.
New Committee Member
With listening to feedback and acting on recommendations being central parts of the committee's mission, there has been an early opportunity to do so.
Early feedback to the committee, in various forms, included the recommendation for greater gender equity among the committee members as well as representation from our Native American community. The committee has since added Michalyn Steele from BYU Law to be able to aid with such representation and lend an important voice and perspective on the committee.
This website, race.byu.edu, was created mostly with the intent to provide a feedback system to help the committee aggregate thoughts, feelings and experiences from the BYU community, and to start or continue important conversations. That mechanism can be seen on the homepage. The committee also views the website as an important tool in clearly explaining the committee's mission, listing committee members and providing important resources related to issues of race, equity and belonging to help further inform and educate the BYU community.