Minorities Increasing Statewide But Down at U of U

Minorities Increasing Statewide But Down at U of U

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- While the minority percentage of Utah's population has been increasing, it is down in the University of Utah student body, an Academic Senate committee report said.

The number of Asian/Pacific Islander students decreased from 1,158 two years ago to 1,055 last school year. Latino students were down from 1,029 to 953 and blacks were down from 161 to 138. American Indians increased from 186 to 190.

In 2004-2005, minority students made up 8.1 percent of the student population, down from 8.9 percent a year earlier.

The report did not seek to explain the decrease in minority students' enrollment, said Robert Flores, a law professor and president of the Academic Senate.

Next year, the committee will try to determine why those enrollments are declining and what can be done about it, he said.

Flores hopes the report will prompt administrators to be more "creative and work harder and smarter" to increase the diversity.

"We do not feel enough is being done to make sure we are admitted and stay until we earn a degree," said Deisy Ramirez, Hispanic Student Association president. "It's already sad to be the only one of color in your classes. ... Now, it's getting worse."

Latino, American Indian, Pacific Islander and African-American students already visit high schools in the valley to talk to their peers about academic preparation for college.

Rich Garcia, the university's ethnic student adviser, said that in 1977, Latinos made up 3.2 percent of Utah's population and represented 1.7 percent of the university's students. Utah's Latino population is nearly 13 percent in the greater Salt Lake Valley and about 11 percent statewide, yet only 3.3 percent of the university's students are Latino.

"The disparity has grown. We are not keeping up proportionally with the population," Garcia said.

He said one reason for the disparity is that in the 1970s, the university did not have the admission requirements it has today.

Now a student admitted to the university must score at least 18 on the ACT test and have at least a 2.6 grade-point average.

He said many minority students have trouble on standardized tests, which he said are geared toward middle-class, white Americans.

"We can show that students of color can come to the (university) and do well, regardless of what they got on the ACT test," Garcia said. "They are able to show learning skills, rather than test-taking skills."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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