U works to maintain commitment to diversity

In spite of a report from the Diversity Committee showing a decline in the number of ethnic students at the U, administrators maintain that the school is committed to diversity.

The report-given to the Academic Senate in September-will likely spark a number of proposals within the next few months from the Diversity Committee.

Barbara Snyder, vice president for student affairs, said the report has shown that more work on promoting diversity is required.

“Diversity has been and continues to be a high priority for the U,” she said. “We have realized that the resources we put into diversity are not enough.”

In President Young’s inaugural address last spring, he said that diversity is necessary to train leaders of the 21st century.

“Diversity in our student body, faculty and administration is an absolute requirement to ensure an education that truly prepares our students for the roles they will assume in society,” he said.

Snyder mentioned a few programs the U is currently using to promote diversity, such as University Neighborhood Partners and scholarships designed solely to promote diversity.

However, Robert Flores, president of the Academic Senate and former chairman of the Diversity Committee, said that more emphasis must be placed on creating opportunities for students to plan for a college education at a young age.

“If you just open your doors and take whoever comes in, you will get some diversity,” he said. “But you leave yourself susceptible to societal barriers that will crimp students from coming to our university.”

Snyder attributed low diversity rates to lower high school graduation rates and a lack of preparation for college among ethnic minorities.

“We need to develop relationships with potential students at a much younger age and help them prepare to enter a university,” she said.

The chairman of the Diversity Committee, Edward Trujillo, said that official recommendations have not yet been proposed by the committee, but are expected to come once the data has been thoroughly compiled and analyzed.

“The report was used to get our feet wet and gather data,” he said. “We hope to use it to improve the situation by getting people talking about the problems.”

Trujillo described some topics that will be addressed in the committee’s recommendations. Increasing Web-based communication and furthering relationships with community colleges were on the top of his list.

“A lot of ethnic students attend community colleges,” he said. “Unfortunately, many of them do not make the jump to the university.”

He also noted problems with gathering data, especially in regard to students and faculty choosing the “other” option when asked to give an ethnicity.

He said that students from mixed ethnicities or ethnicities not listed-such as Middle Eastern-are not represented in studies.

Trujillo said that work is needed to get the word out about scholarships and student programs intended solely for ethnic students. He commended Associated Students of the University of Utah President Ali Hasnain for his effort in raising communication in these areas.

“It all involves communication. We need more communication between the university, the public, the community colleges and the public schools,” he said. “The more awareness, the better the programs and the more support.”

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