PROVO, Utah — Thousands of people are pushing for Brigham Young University students to have to learn about racial inequality before getting a degree.
More than 18,000 people have now signed a petition asking BYU to require race and ethnicity classes in order for students to graduate.
The request comes as protests against racism and police brutality continue in Utah, across the country and around the world.
Kennedy Madrid and Jonathan Mena, who both attend BYU, started the petition and say now is the perfect time to talk about race and ethnicity.
Madrid says during her time at BYU, she’s experienced racism herself as well as having seen a lot of her friends hear racist comments.
Her husband Jonathan says the classes aren't meant to be a punishment but rather an opportunity for students to leave the university with a better understanding of other cultures.
“Remembering that in a university campus a lot of people come from different parts of the world and we may not know how to interact with people from different backgrounds," Mena said. "And so these types of courses we hope will be able to help people to know how to respectfully communicate, respectfully interact with people of different backgrounds.”
While BYU does require students to take courses on religion and general education, Madrid says it’s not enough as there are over 200 courses in that category that can easily be filled with a class not focused on race.
BYU announced Wednesdaythat it has formed a committee to examine race and inequality on its campuses.
It says the members will start immediately - first by listening to students and staff of color - and using that information to help make the school a more safe and welcoming place.