How BYU’s committee on race, equity and belonging is connecting with the campus community

The newly formed Brigham Young University Committee on Race, Equity & Belonging is emphasizing its commitment to “review processes, [policies] and organizational attitudes regarding racism.”

In its recently released “Purpose and Mission Statement” the committee declared: “Rooting out racism, healing its wounds and building bridges of understanding is the responsibility of every member of the BYU community. 

“That effort begins with understanding and living the two greatest commandments given to us by the Master Healer, Jesus Christ: to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves (see Matthew 22:35–39).”

The committee — consisting of school administrators, professors and a coach — was organized last month at the request of BYU President Kevin J Worthen and is under the direction of Academic Vice President Shane Reese to examine issues of race and inequality at the Church-owned school and provide recommendations on addressing such issues.

In its statement, the committee outlined its plans to “enhance belonging at BYU” by: 

  • “Listening to our beloved Black BYU community to understand how racism has frustrated, and continues to frustrate their experiences at BYU;
  • “Inviting the input of all of our beloved Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) at BYU as well as those committed to ridding BYU of racism through the establishment of racial equity and belonging;
  • “Conducting a thorough quantitative and qualitative review of how processes, policies, practices, procedures, operations and attitudes impact our BIPOC communities at BYU;
  • “Identifying the issues that negatively impact the prosperity of our BIPOC communities at BYU;
  • “Drawing on the expertise of individual faculty and administrators within BYU to understand both the subtle and overt ways that racism may impact individual thought and interactions, organizational units, processes, policies, practices, procedures and operations;
  • “Creating, prioritizing and presenting a comprehensive set of recommendations that will assist BYU to advance racial understanding, enhance equity, and promote belonging, and that will have a significant and enduring positive impact on the prosperity of our BIPOC communities at BYU.”

In its purpose and mission statement, BYU’s Committee on Race, Equity & Belonging added it will function with transparency and maintain “consistent communication with the BYU community” concerning its progress:

“The committee eagerly looks forward to assisting to ‘root out [racism]’ at BYU so that every member of our BYU community ‘might have life, and have it more abundantly.’”

The committee is also inviting anyone connected to BYU — students, employees, alumni — to “be part of the conversation” by sharing their input on matters of equality and belonging on campus via an online feedback site.

The committee has posted an Instagram story, introducing their members and purposes.

The newly appointed committee members are:

  • Moises Aguirre, director of BYU’s Multicultural Student Services.
  • Ryan Gabriel, BYU assistant professor of sociology. 
  • Lita Little Giddins, coordinator of diversity, collaboration and inclusion in the BYU College of Family, Home and Social Science.
  • Vern Heperi, assistant to the president for student success and inclusion at BYU.
  • Carl Hernandez III, law professor at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School and director of the BYU Community Legal Clinic.
  • Jon McBride, media relations and social media manager in University Communications.
  • Stephani Perkins, BYU track and field assistant coach for women’s sprints, hurdles, relays and men’s and women’s horizontal jumps.
  • Shane Reese, BYU Academic Vice President.
  • Michalyn Steele, law professor at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School.