REXBURG, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - A controversial post that was shared on the BYU-Idaho College of Performing and Visual Arts Facebook page has caused an outrage among students.
The petition is titled, "We need BYU-Idaho to establish a diversity and inclusion office." Creators say the Facebook post was 'the last straw for many students.' They describe the lengthy post as 'an argument weaponizing the violence against the early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints against black Americans.
One of the signatures is from Fredericka Thomas an African senior at BYU-Idaho. Thomas is part of a now unofficial BYU-I group called the 'Black Student Union.' She joined her freshman year when she says BYU-Idaho allowed cultural associations.
"I didn't have a lot of connections to Brigham Young University-Idaho, I didn't have a lot of friends that already went there. So, meeting people like me, but from different backgrounds, was really amazing and then obviously it gave me more confidence to branch out to make more friends at the university," Thomas said.
According to Thomas, the university claimed to remove all cultural associations because of lack of funding, academic purpose, and the groups made others feel excluded.
We reached out to the university for comment but did not receive a response.
"For those of us who are people of color, and those of us who are minority, it's harder for us to find groups where we belong," Thomas said.
Online enrollment statistics from the school show 80% of the university's on campus students were White during the Spring 2019 semester. Although that is the lowest rate in three years.
"It's caused a lot of like people trying to find themselves and people trying to find where they belong. It's just extending that process for them," Thomas said.
On the university's about me page, they claim to 'maintain a wholesome academic, cultural, and social environment.' Thomas says this can't be done without a center for diversity and inclusion.
"Even private universities and christian universities have these organizations. To literally showcase the diversity of the school, a school that shouts diversity belonging and Christ like discipleship, and creating Christ like leadership, you know, like, there should be diversity and understanding of diversity," Thomas said.
The petition has raised more than 2,000 signatures.