BYU program focuses on recruiting multicultural students

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    By LAUREN L. GLISSON

    BYU is on the fast track, attempting to keep pace with the multicultural membership growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the United States.

    According to Erlend D. Peterson, dean of admissions and records, BYU’s objective is to create a cross-section at BYU that is reflective of the membership of the LDS Church.

    Statistics from BYU’s fall semester 1998 show that multicultural students make up 9.4 percent of the BYU population: 3.3 percent Southeast Asian and Polynesian, 2.7 percent Latino, .6 percent Native American, .4 percent African American, and 2.6 percent other.

    BYU has outreach programs that recruit multicultural students to come to the university. Peterson said the natural admissions process would hopefully include the correct representation, but some cultures need higher representation at BYU.

    “You see the Polynesian culture at BYU reflected correctly without having to do something special,” Peterson explained.

    Peterson said he finds it difficult to maintain the same ethnic profile at BYU as is represented in the LDS Church because church records don’t record ethnicity. Yet BYU realizes the need to increase the number of multicultural students.

    “There are many reasons and benefits to bring more multicultural students to this campus,” Peterson said.

    The SOAR program, sponsored by Multicultural Student Services, is the greatest recruitment tool for minorities, according to Richelle Andersen, multicultural on-campus education director.

    This summer 140 students will visit BYU and participate in the SOAR program. These high school juniors are accepted if they have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and are of American minority descent.

    “SOAR provides study skill workshops, college entrance exam preparation and time management lessons–things that will help them become competitive applicants to BYU and help make their transition into a university easier,” Andersen said.

    More than 80 percent of the students who attend the SOAR program decide to attend BYU. Richard Rowley, a junior from West Valley City, majoring in illustration, and a SOAR counselor, said that the Discovery program (the predecessor of SOAR), convinced him to come to BYU.

    “It was a time in my life when I could go either direction–good or bad. I pulled a lot of spiritual strength and love for my own and others’ cultures from this program at BYU,” Rowley said.

    BYU has more multicultural recruiting tools up its sleeve, including four school relations teams who visit cities outside of Utah each week.

    “There is an increasing number of inner city members in the church,” Peterson said. “We encourage them to come to BYU. At first they didn’t take it seriously. Even though only a few from the inner cities come, it’s elevating the sights of those back home, proving that further education really is attainable.”

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