40 years ago this spring, Latter Day Saint prophet Spencer W. Kimball gave the dedicatory prayer at the opening of the school’s Orem campus.
Kimball concluded his prayer with “we now dedicate this total institution to Thee for Thy holy purposes, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
In 2012, the university named a science scholarship after Richard G. Scott, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Now in 2017, there is this representation of a single religion in the four highest levels of the university. In fact, three new board members with the same affiliation were just appointed. While this might not seem like a problem, it limits the perspective of the board of trustees, who are directly involved in shaping university policy, deciding who receives tenure and decisions like who should speak at commencement. Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church, was picked to speak during the spring 2017 commencement.
When there is a homogenous group of individuals in positions of power making these decisions, it begs the question of how much discussion surrounded the decision for someone like him to speak at commencement. There was no diverse perspective within the board to question if Eyring was the best choice to represent all students.
If everyone on the board of trustees has the same affiliation, would there even be a discussion on who is chosen for important speeches like commencement when only one group of people is represented?
UVU’s inclusion statement reads “UVU is committed to preparing all students and employees for success in an increasingly complex, diverse, and globalized society. … We seek to advance the understanding of diverse perspectives.” Failure to include diverse perspectives and experiences within the ranks of the university’s policy makers stands in direct opposition to this statement on inclusion.
How can UVU “advance the understanding of diverse perspectives” if the only perspective being made into policy is that of one homogenous group?
Inclusion makes people feel welcomed and understood. Students who do not identify with one religion might not feel like they belong at the university or that they are not being represented. In this day in age, representation matters, and the only way to ensure equality is by including diverse perspectives and opinions in policy making decisions. Without that voice, inclusiveness means nothing.
This about representing a diverse student body and living up to our own statement on inclusion. That’s not to say individuals should be picked solely on factors like religion, ethnicity or gender, but that greater care should be taken during the appointing process to select those with different perspectives and affiliations.
UVU must step outside of this religious comfort zone and consider who will best represent all students.
Editor in Chief and life-long student