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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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U, BYU reach out to ethnic minorities

By Carlos Mayorga

Although white students outnumber racial minorities more than three to one at the University of Utah and Brigham Young University, initiatives by both schools seek to bring more diversity into higher education.

For more than 40 years, students and faculty at the Multicultural Students Center at BYU have worked to recruit students from local middle and high schools while providing scholarships and counseling for current students, said Lisa Muranaka, director of Multicultural Student Services at BYU.

Many students of various ethnic backgrounds at BYU come from states with more racial diversity and are not always prepared to deal with the demographics of Utah, Muranaka said.

“You’re going to get questions about your background,” she said. “Some of them may be great, wonderful, intelligent questions, but some of them may be a little ignorant.”

The center hosts several annual events to raise cultural awareness on campus, including an activity for Black History Month and an annual luau. These events are not only beneficial to minority students but to everyone, said Jason Nau, a senior in recreation management at BYU.

“The majority aren’t ignorant (to race). You obviously have one or two people who make the apple sour, but people want to know what’s going on,” he said. “It’s our opportunity to be able to say, ‘This is who we are, this is what we do, this is where we came from.'”

The Center for Ethnic Student Affairs at the U also hosts events that celebrate the cultures of minority students and participates in high-school recruiting. However, CESA, in collaboration with the office for diversity at the U, has recently brought in a number of scholars to get students to talk about race — something the Multicultural Students Center at BYU wants to do more, Muranaka said.

Although racial makeup might be similar at both universities, administration at the U has been more supportive than BYU of students and faculty who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, said Cathy Martinez, director of the LGBT Resource Center at the U.

Last year, the LGBT Resource Center was moved to a larger space, and U officials, including President Michael Young, continually express their support for the center and annual Pride Week events.

“In any place, you’re going to find pockets of individuals that don’t welcome us, but I’ve felt nothing but support from the administration,” Martinez said.

She said the U recently scored a B grade on a survey aimed to gauge campus sentiment toward LGBT students and faculty. The survey looked at the U’s policies, safety, diversity and inclusiveness.

“I think it was a pretty good rating based on what they looked at,” Martinez said. “We might have a way to go, but we are at least attempting to be inclusive.”

Students at BYU who advocate a “homosexual lifestyle,” can be found in violation of the university’s Honor Code, a BYU policy to which students must adhere.

“I’ve heard of people that are gay at BYU,” said Cory Garr, a sophomore in school health education at BYU. “According to the Honor Code, you’re not allowed to participate in homosexual relationships or homosexual actions. So as long as they’re not acting on it, they can be gay.”

The result is that students and faculty at BYU who identify as gay or lesbian tend to be “closeted” and go outside of the campus community for support, Martinez said.

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