As the University of Utah prepares to welcome folx back to campus for the 2021-22 academic year, university leaders remain committed to creating a space where everyone feels a sense of belonging. The Anti-Racism Committee is leading efforts to create an anti-racist campus.
My name is Bryan Hubain. My pronouns are he, him, and his. I am the associate vice president for Student Development and Inclusion and one of the co-chairs for the Anti-Racism Committee. My co-chair, Dr. David Derezotes, is the director of Peace and Conflict Studies in the College of Humanities.
The Anti-Racism Committee helps in understanding and addressing issues on campus that are connected to racism. This committee advises and provides recommendations that improve the overall campus climate regarding issues and events of racism across all intersections of identity.
The University of Utah is committed to creating an inclusive campus for all, and interrogating the various forms of racism is an important part of that. To assist with this process of addressing racism on campus, the Anti-Racism Committee was formed and is now one of four committees that creates synergy in relation to change on campus under the One U Thriving initiative.
Racism takes forms that can happen in many places and can be subtle or overt. Racism can be revealed through people’s actions, as well as their attitudes. But most importantly, racism can be reflected in systems and also institutions. Institutions very much like the University of Utah. This is why in creating an inclusive campus, we must interrogate our policies, our processes, and our practices. Only then, we can truly be anti-racist.
Anti-racism is an active and conscious effort to work against the various forms of racism and the way it shows up. To do so, the Anti-Racism Committee has been working on different ways we can engage the campus but also provide recommendations that can be elevated to a higher level.
One of the ways we’re hoping to do so is by creating space for campus partners, departments, schools, and colleges to share what they’re doing around anti-racism. This includes anti-racism action plans or strategic plan priorities.
We also understand that there are barriers to executing these, and creating the space to really understand what folx are doing will help us to have conversations at higher levels and provide recommendations to our university leaders to help remove these barriers and for the great work to continue. We all are doing great work at the University of Utah around anti-racism, and a really important part of that is communication.
The Anti-Racism Committee has established this as one of our priorities for next year. Communicating and sharing information about what’s been completed, what are we hoping to accomplish, but also what is some of the great work that is happening. So stay tuned to the One U Thriving Newsletter. This is where the information will be shared.
We also want to continue planning our “Think and Do Tank.” Now, you must be asking what is a “Think and Do Tank”? A “Think and Do Tank” is just a way of us working together, having conversations, but also mapping out the things that we can do to create change.
The Anti-Racism Committee sees this as a very big priority for us, and we will be relying on our campus partners to come together, share information, share strategies, share some of these plans that everyone is working on, and also see how we can navigate this through collaboration and hopefully uniting around issues that are common across departments.
Another way of looking at what we do is benchmarking. We need to understand what’s out there. We need to understand how far do we need to go as an institution, but also some of the things that we may not be thinking about. We don’t have all the answers as the University of Utah, so we must rely on partner institutions across the country to really have these critical conversations within the institution.
Doing so will help us address and also celebrate the great things that are very unique to the U.
One of our priorities is the intergroup dialogue, and this is happening right now. This intergroup dialogue is focused on anti-Blackness and really understanding the ins and outs of anti-Blackness and how it might show up at the University of Utah. The program is — yes — already underway, and we have right now 11 participants.
Ten of those folx are willing to be facilitators in the future, which is a very big part of creating change as there is a ripple effect going through and all of us having conversations, critical conversations, critical reflections about anti-racism and anti-Blackness.
These are the priorities for the Anti-Racism Committee. If you would like to collaborate, if you would like to share what you’re doing, please contact us, and we can create space to understand what you’re doing.