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PROVO — BYU officials say they are investigating a flood of "racist, anonymous comments" made in a panel meant to address diversity Thursday evening.
The university held a panel about race and immigration as a part of its Black History Month events, according to a schedule posted online. It followed a similar panel BYU’s Black-Latino Alliance held earlier that kicked off a slate of events on campus last week.
People submitted questions for the panel anonymously through the app Slido, according to tweets from a student who attended the event, Grace Soelberg. The questions didn’t just appear to panel members, but also anyone in the crowd.
Soelberg included screenshots of the questions asked, which included some that questioned Black History Month and others that dove into racial stereotypes.
Questions like, "Why don't we have any white people on stage?" "Why do African Americans hate the police? If they would obey the law and do what they say we wouldn't have this problem," and "What is the percentage of African Americans on food stamps?" were among those submitted.
Faculty advisers confirmed the screenshots posted online Thursday were indeed questions asked that the event, a BYU spokesperson told KSL.com Friday.
Soelberg tweeted that she hoped "that everyone who reads this feels prompted to check in with themselves and ask what they are doing to fight racism. It is not enough to just 'not be racist' and watch idly by as PoC suffer every day from micro and macro-aggressions."
February 7, 2020
“We must all be anti-racist and fight so that bigoted people don’t feel entitled to walk into black spaces only to seek to destroy them with their hatred,” Soelberg added.
The university issued a statement about the incident late Friday morning. Officials tweeted they were aware of the incident and that faculty members who oversaw the event were compiling a report to be sent to university administrators. However, since the comments were submitted anonymously through a third-party app, officials said they were unable to see who sent the questions or if those who sent the questions were students.
“We reaffirm BYU’s stance of condemning racism in any form. We are committed to promoting a culture of safety, kindness, respect and love," officials said, adding that they support the stance of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sponsors the university.
"White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful, and we condemn them. Church members who promote or pursue a 'white culture' or white supremacy agenda are not in harmony with the teachings of the Church," university officials tweeted, quoting an earlier statement from the church.
The university had previously tweeted the second half of that statement in November after people reported they had found stickers and posters promoting a white supremacist group at the university’s campus.
Officials added that any student who witnesses or experiences racism or white supremacy at the campus is encouraged to call the Dean of Students Office at 801-422-2731, or University Police at 801-422-2222 if there’s an immediate safety risk.