Jorge Encinas and Clifford Mayes, Educational Leadership and Foundations
The purpose of this project was to investigate potential for the small amount of
Hispanic students that attend BYU. I noticed this when I noticed that the percentage of the
student body that is of Hispanic has been lower lately. Meanwhile similar educational institutions
in Utah have had an increasing percent of their student body be from Hispanic consent. Dr.
Mayes and I believed that the perception that Hispanic students have of BYU might be a primary
reason for why Hispanic students are not attend BYU.
In order to obtain information on the perspective that Hispanic students have of
BYU we needed to find a suitable population of prospective college students here in Utah. We
found such a population through the Latinos in Action classes that exist in high schools
throughout the state of Utah. Latinos in Action is a service club for Hispanic students that has
high levels of college enrollment after graduation. We went into the schools and administered a
survey that asked students their opinions of different characteristics of the universities in Utah.
The universities that were listed on the survey where BYU, Dixie State, SUU, University of
Utah, Utah State, and UVU. I did not inform the students that I was from BYU or that I was
interested in their perception of BYU. Instead I told them I was seeking their opinion of
universities in Utah in general. The questions asked in the survey had to do with the academic,
social, and supportive environment that each university offered. Students were asked to rate each
university on a 5 point scale, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest rating on each
characteristic. The response for each university on each measure was then average and ranked
compared to the other universities in the sample.
There were twelve total categories that we looked at for each university in Utah. BYU
was ranked highest in only one category: difficulty in getting accepted. BYU was ranked last by
the students in every other category. Survey participants believed that they would not be able to
relate to other Hispanic students at BYU. Survey participants believed BYU was not very
welcoming to Hispanic students and not a very diverse school. Survey respondents believed that
BYU did not offer much in terms of academic or financial support (scholarships) for Hispanic
students. Finally, survey respondents believed they would not enjoy attending BYU. Utah Valley
University and University of Utah were the two universities that were ranked the highest in these
Like we thought BYU was perceived in a negative light amongst the Hispanic
students that we surveyed, especially in those categories relating to how Hispanic students would
experience BYU. The first reason for an explanation for these results is the fact that a lot of
Hispanic students are not LDS and would therefore have less of a desire to attend BYU because
of differences in belief. However, students that expressed a desire to attend BYU earlier in the
survey still scored BYU lower on those categories involving Hispanic students. Clearly even
those students seeking to attend BYU feel that it is not the most diverse or welcome of
institutions for Hispanic students. Another explanation for these results could be that there is
incorrect information about BYU among the Hispanic community, and that this is effecting the
perception of BYU. This could possibly be because of a lack of outreach by BYU to these
Hispanic students in Latinos in Action. The University of Utah, and especially UVU work
closely with Latinos in Action, and these two schools are the highest rated in the survey.
Whether or not these perceptions of BYU are real or not, it is clear that BYU is not viewed very
positively among prospective college students of Hispanic descent.
If BYU is seeking to increase the diversity of its student body, it must first be seen
as an attractive destination for minority students. BYU must seek to increase its outreach to these
Hispanic students to help them see the benefits and opportunities available to them when they
receive a BYU education. This increased diversity will help BYU fulfill its mission to educate
individuals in an environment filled with the Spirit.