Challenge of Campus Image

“Challenge of Campus Image,” New Era, Feb. 1972, 21–22

Challenge of Campus Image

Problems relating to the image of Mormon students on campus vary greatly from school to school, depending on the percentage of Latter-day Saints enrolled. But the problems of most universal concern are those common to campuses where the number of Church members is small. Here are some sample problems with suggested solutions:

Problem: “We Mormons don’t even have an ‘image’ at all. On campus we’re practically invisible.”

1. One group of Latter-day Saint students bought a whole page in the school newspaper—others have placed smaller ads—inviting the student body to Church-sponsored events.

2. On another campus Mormon students set up a miniature visitors center and introduced fellow students to the Church’s educational program. Preaching is usually against campus and state laws, but informing others of our progress is approved. One school permitted Mormon students to set up a table and pass out packets to interested students during registration periods.

3. As a Church-related group, Latter-day Saint students may contact their student government and offer to sponsor or co-sponsor an activity. Offer to do the publicity and other work if the school or subordinate organization will foot the bill. Even small groups can sponsor carnivals, sack races, and car washes in conjunction with traditional school celebrations.

4. See that Latter-day Saint students are recognized by student government and school administration so that you are eligible to use campus facilities for the same cost as other student organizations.

Problem: “The Black Students Union has been propagandized into giving us opposition. How can we help them to better understand our true position?”

Nothing melts friction so quickly as does getting together to discuss so-called problems. One group of Latter-day Saints asked for a private, informal meeting with black organizational leaders, at which time mutual needs were discussed. The atmosphere was constructive and polite, and the result was greater understanding and even cooperative friendship.

Problem: “Our Mormon kids are apathetic to campus politics. They complain that kooks and weirdos wield too much influence but they don’t do anything about it.”

One college campus has a student body of about 15,000 students, of which about 1,000 are Latter-day Saints. Voter turnout in student elections is usually between 1,000 and 1,500. A strong, concerted drive by the Mormon students resulted in several Mormons being elected as student body officers.