How will new missionary age requirements affect campus demographics?


[Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom] The change in minimum age requirements for LDS Missionaries will have long-term effects on BYU campus.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve recognized in the press conference that followed President Monson’s announcement Saturday morning that BYU would be one of the largest Church organizations to be affected by the missionary age requirements changes.

BYU officials are now preparing for this dramatic change. Recognizing the changes that will need to be made at the University, BYU’s Director of Communications, Carri Jenkins, said she is hopeful and confident in BYU’s ability to adapt to this Church-wide policy change.

“We are excited about this announcement and what it means for the young adults of the Church, including our BYU students,” Jenkins said. ” There is no doubt that the change in missionary service age will impact the university, particularly in such areas as housing and enrollment. What specifically that impact will be, however, still needs to be determined.  Although there are questions we cannot answer immediately, we will be looking closely at how our students and prospective students respond to this change. We are confident that we will be able to continue to provide all of our students with a superb educational experience.”

Julie Franklin, director of Residence Life, also recognized that this announcement affected housing at BYU, but described that BYU housing is flexible enough to accomodate the necessary changes that are soon to come. When asked if more women’s housing would be needed, Franklin commented that some buildings have not been designated male or female dormitories yet.

“For several years now we have begun the room selection process with a plan that maximizes flexibility for accommodating men and women,” Franklin said. “That is to say we typically have several buildings for which we have not determined the gender designation for the coming year.  This allows us to provide spaces to the men and women as needed.  It would not be difficult for us to do this in the coming years.”

Franklin also clarified that all other aspects of housing would remain the same, as unmarried BYU Freshman will still not be allowed to live in family housing regardless of age or class. They do not anticipate tailoring on-campus housing to return missionaries, as Freshman housing has always had a mix of return missionaries and those who have not yet served missions, even if the balance between these two groups shifts because of this change. She also mentioned that they anticipated no changes in off-campus housing as a result of this policy change.

Todd Hollingshead, information manager and media relations manager for University Communications, projected a fairly significant statistical change in BYU enrollment numbers. According to Hollingshead, the current percentage of BYU students who have served LDS missions is 46 percent. Between men and women at BYU, 79 percent of males at BYU have served missions, whereas only ten percent of women at BYU have served.

Hollingshead mentioned that this does not include those who are anticipating or preparing to serve missions. By the time students at BYU graduate, those percentages increase significantly. By graduation, 90 percent of male students have served missions, and 20 percent of female students have served.

To project the possible effect of this announcement, Hollingshead shared that the number of female BYU students aged 19-21 is 8,102 women, which is 51 percent of female students at BYU. This means a possible 51 percent of female students at BYU are now eligible to serve missions if they decide to.

Although the exact number of prospective BYU freshmen that can now serve at 18 has yet to be determined, Hollingshead mentioned that the total male student population aged 18-19 right now at BYU is 2,487, which is around 14 percent of male students at BYU. This could produce a 14 percent increase of 18 year-old missionaries serving from BYU.

For more effects of this policy change and a more in-depth report of President Monson’s announcement, check out tomorrow’s edition of The Universe.


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