BYU ‘Rooting Out Racism’ Task Force Calls For ‘Race-Conscious’ Religious Curriculum, Admissions Standards

BYU ‘Rooting Out Racism’ Task Force Calls For ‘Race-Conscious’ Religious Curriculum, Admissions Standards

A task force at Brigham Young University is calling on the school to develop new “race-conscious” religious curriculum and admissions standards. 

A nine-member committee at BYU was tasked with making recommendations to the university on how it can improve racial equality on campus. The committee presented its findings in a 63-page report to the university’s president. 

The report listed 26 “key findings” on how to create a more “equitable world” for students. The findings were focused on expanding the oversight and power of college administrators, creating a new curriculum to fit a “race-conscious” narrative, and recruiting students based on race. 

The first recommendation was that the school create a central “Office of Diversity and Belonging” alongside a new Vice President of Diversity position. This office would be in addition to the three inclusion centers that already exist on BYU’s campus: The Multicultural Student Services office, the International Student and Scholar Services office, and the Office of Student Success and Inclusion. All three offices would be forced to report to the new diversity office. 

According to the report, the newfound Office of Diversity and Belonging would be tasked with developing “diversity and inclusion training programs and resources” for the university. 

The report also calls for the university to establish a separate committee “dedicated to advancing racial understanding, enhancing equity, and promoting belonging for [Black, Indigenous, and Person of Color or BIPOC] communities.” 

Other positions that the report calls for include a Vice President or Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management who would focus on the “academic success of BIPOC students.” The report calls for a subsequent committee to assist the new Vice President of Enrollment Management.  

Another expansion of university oversight includes creating a system that allows students to report instances of racial discrimination on campus. These systems are commonly referred to as “bias response teams,” and have been known to have a chilling effect on student speech. Critics argue that students are often scared to speak unpopular opinions for fear that a peer will report them to the “bias response team” and they will face punishment for legally permissible speech. 

The task force also recommended that the school “commit to curricular changes” to religious studies classes to educate students on “race, unity, and diversity.” The school was told to consider adding statements from “prophets and apostles” that demonstrate “civility, racial and ethnic harmony, and mutual respect.” 

The report also asks that the BYU Honor Code and the BYU Dress and Grooming Standards are applied with “cultural competence and sensitivity.” Separate departments were also tasked with adopting statements on “race, equity, and belonging.”

One of the findings insinuated that the school should establish a racially segregated center for minority students. The report calls for the school to “establish a dedicated, visible space on campus for underrepresented students and those who serve this population.”

Among its “race-conscious” policy suggestions was one that calls for the school to “design and implement a race-conscious recruitment strategy” to attract more minority applicants. Another called for an investigation into whether the school’s admissions policies have a “disparate impact” on minority applicants. 

The report specifically calls for the university’s Office of the General Counsel to evaluate the legal parameters of a newfound “race-conscious admissions model.” 

Elite universities have faced pushback for creating “race-conscious” recruitment practices. The Trump administration’s Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Yale University for allegedly violating civil rights laws. The lawsuit alleged that the school made race the “determinative factor” in its admissions decisions. The investigation was dropped by the Biden administration. 

The BYU report also suggests that the school create a plan to support existing “BIPOC” faculty and create a plan to “alleviate the ‘cultural taxation’ burdens carried by BIPOC faculty.” BIPOC faculty will also be provided with increased opportunities to serve in senior leadership positions. 

Final suggestions include creating more scholarship opportunities and designating scholarships based on a student’s “socioeconomic profile” and “adverse life circumstances.” 

Brigham Young University did not respond to requests for comment. 

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