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Working toward a more equitable future

Hundreds of students, staff and faculty gathered on Feb. 8 as part of the U’s second annual Day of Collective Action. The event is designed to bring the campus community together to learn, reflect and find ways to build a more equitable future.

The Day of Collective Action was one of the U’s responses to instances of hate that have affected the University of Utah community, including threats made to the Black Cultural Center and other BCCs across the country, said Lori McDonald, vice president of Student Affairs and co-chair of Presidential Commission on Equity and Belonging, at the opening session.

“I believe the Day of Collective Action is our day to grapple with difficult conversations and topics,” said McDonald. “And to say that I can do better—that we can do better—as a campus community.” The actions that result from the day will shape the lives of students, the city and state, she added.

“Our campus community is committed to recognizing and dismantling discrimination in all forms and this day serves as an important step to getting everyone on campus involved,” said U President Taylor Randall in his prepared remarks to open the session. “I hope that today will inspire you to continue your involvement in our community’s collective action to develop new ways of making a lasting impact.”

The four tracks offered at the event—Exploring the Hispanic Serving Institution, Anti-Racism, Indigenizing the University of Utah and Community and Coalition Building—encouraged attendees to delve deeper into specific aspects of equity and belonging. Additional programming included a safety session discussing policing in the post-George Floyd era, a 28-day white supremacy challenge and an antisemitism session. Participants learned about developing an anti-racism plan, equity-centered community building, addressing student poverty, and gender and its impacts on higher education, among other important topics.

The Collective Day of Action is a presidential initiative, launched in 2022 by the Presidential Commission on Equity and Belonging. The U is proud to be at the forefront of the movement to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in higher education, and the annual event is a critical step in this journey, said Randall.

There is never enough time in a single day to address all the identities that experience harm, so this is ongoing work, and it takes us all, said Bryan Hubain, co-chair of the event and associate vice president of student development and inclusion. The event was created for us to “come away from with ideas and actions that we can take to make our institution more equitable, and anti-racist—a place where all are welcome,” said Hubain.

Below you’ll find information from the four tracks held throughout the day.