Have Race and Ethnicity Classes be a Mandatory BYU Grad Requirement

Have Race and Ethnicity Classes be a Mandatory BYU Grad Requirement

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Heather Cameron
Heather Cameron signed this petition

On February 6th, 2020, BYU held a panel in which five African immigrants discussed their challenges of being immigrants in America. There was an opportunity for audience members to submit anonymous questions for the panelists to answer. However, some of the audience members thought it would be a great idea to instead submit racist comments after the women discussed their challenges and hardships. 

Similarly, during the Spring 2019 semester at BYU-Idaho, individuals were standing outside the McKay library promoting BYU-Idaho's upcoming musical events. One of these events included The Bonner Family, an African-American musical family. To promote the event, white individuals (possibly students at BYU-Idaho) handed out free watermelon, which is a common stereotype associated with African Americans/Blacks. It is unclear if this was an intentional act*.

In another case, at BYU-Hawaii, Asian students were being harassed due to the outbreak of coronavirus. Students at BYU-Hawaii, BYU Provo, and BYU Law have shared their experiences, from explaining that students are blaming the Asian students for coronavirus to students being extra fearful when an Asian student coughs. 

These are only a few instances of racism expressed by BYU students from all three schools. It is not a secret that a majority of the students at BYU have traditionally been white, and they still compose a majority of the student body at these campuses. Further, a large majority of the students who come to BYU have not had a lot of experiences with people of color where they grew up. A large number of the students attending BYU are from Utah, or from predominantly white communities; it is not a secret that BYU does not have a stellar reputation when it comes to racism. There is both active racism and ignorance that is rampant on all three BYU campuses. This needs to change, especially with the events that are unfolding in the country today. 

BYU and BYU-Idaho offer sociology classes in ethnicity and race, and BYU-Hawaii offers courses in intercultural peacebuilding. These classes, however, are not a requirement for students to take for graduation. For example, BYU does offer a class called Sociology of Race and Ethnicity but it is an optional course for a GE requirement. With the events happening and the racism and ignorance that is shown on all three campuses, it will be beneficial for students to take classes about ethnicity and race as a mandatory graduation requirement. This will educate our fellow classmates and make them more aware of their classmates around them. If BYU wants to continue to be a leader in education both nationally and internationally, it must focus on preparing its students to work in the real world where they will face diversity in the workplace and where they will need to know how to interact and contribute with diverse communities. This is not a permanent solution to the problem, but it is a step in the right direction. Please consider signing this petition to have these classes as a requirement. Thank you. 

Sincerely, a Latina BYU student looking for change

Sources: 

https://www.ksl.com/article/46714966/byu-investigates-after-racist-anonymous-comments-flood-race-and-immigration-panel

https://universe.byu.edu/2020/02/07/black-and-immigrant-panelists-share-unique-american-perspectives/

https://kealakai.byuh.edu/as-corona-virus-crisis-worsens-some-students-share-how-they-have-been-victims-of-harassment

https://www.byui.edu/foundations/for-students/course-requirements

https://catalog.byu.edu/about-byu/general-education

https://catalog.byuh.edu/sites/catalog.byuh.edu/files/2015%20GE%20%282017%20Update%29.pdf

*EDIT: a student did reach out and explained that this was unintentional.