As expected, the student body at The University of Utah is pretty homogenous. But, if you look close enough there are organizations for about every kind of student. Each year there is an LGBT Week and there are no riots or protests or anything of the sort, which is a good sign (You go to the school down south, Brigham Young University, and any sign of LGBT awareness would get you kicked off campus by school security). There are groups for pretty much every ethnicity that is represented at the U, though a quick stroll through campus will reveal a lot of white faces, despite the fact that the U is becoming more and more diverse. With 26,000 students, there are going to be a lot of different interests and a ton of varied opinions on issues of the day. In general, I would say that the campus is left of center, but not as much as other college campuses because of the influence of the LDS religion. Though, I have many friends who grew up "LDS" but have distanced from "the church" as they've gotten older and in turn have become much more liberal than their parents. Bottom line: if you have a specific interest, more likely than not there is a group at the U that you can identify with. Like any other place, the richness of the experience hinges on the how much effort is made by the individual.
LGBTQ Groups on campus: I am an active member of the Queer Student Union at the U, which is an organization for LGBTQ students. They were wonderful in helping me get the courage to come out of the closet to the rest of my friends and eventually my family. It was also great to be able to make friends who were in a similar situation. Politically aware? I do not think that students are politically aware and active. Everybody on campus has an opinion on important issues, but when it comes down to it, they rarely have the basic facts, and even more infrequently, actually do something about the issue. In the rare instances when a student is both aware and active, it is usually from a radical right position condemning us all to Hell for being Atheists... or a PETA fanatic condemning us to Hell for wearing leather.
I'm a lesbian, and I went to one meeting of the Queer Student Union (the main LGBT organization on campus). I felt out of place and... I don't know if "rejected" is the right word, but I felt that the other women in QSU were members of a group or a clique and I was definitely not a member of this clique. I suppose you could say that I didn't feel like I was welcome. A lot of people in QSU come from rich, liberal backgrounds, whereas my background was middle-class and conservative. I feel that they don't understand why some gay people have a hard time coming out, or why people would feel out of place at QSU. In short, they have a hard time understanding other people's experiences. I haven't been back to a meeting since, which is sad since it's kind of hard to meet other lesbians in Utah.
I would say that the U is a melting pot of people. The population is mostly white, americans, but there is enough of a variety that one would find a group to fit into. The socio-economic standing is a good mix as well. There are students and the U that are the first people in their families to attend college, and there is a long list of well-to-do families that have members attending the U. From my experience, there is a healthy portion of the U that comes from out-of-state. In fact, a Utah native was a bit of a minority in at least two of my classes. When it comes to clothes, the U has about every fashion available in some form or another, although I think its safe to say that wearing sandals and/or pajamas seems to be a popular trend.
-As I mentioned before, the U tollerates all kinds of behavior, clothing, religious/sexual affiliation, ethnicities, etc. In fact, there are actually groups that celebrate each of these differnet aspects, teh things that make us who we are. There are various religious groups, ethnic groups, one LGBT group... - There's also a Diversity Board within the U's Student Government. - Most U of U students are from anywhere in the valley. Because it's a commuter campus, people drive or take the bus/TRAX from all around Salt Lake City and surrounding towns. Some are from outside Utah and a few are from outside the U.S.
Most groups are well-represented on campus. I think that the most out of place student would be a BYU student. Um...normal clothes? It ranges from sweats and pajamas to shirts and ties. It's a very relaxed yet academic-conducive atmosphere. One table has the Korean students, one has the Japanese students, one has the Chinese students, and the other is empty because they all got up and left. Utah. Mid to upper middle class. Most are politically active, yes. There are a ton of lefts, a ton of rights and a ton of centers. It really depends on what you are going into.
I remember reading somewhere that the University of Utah was ranked as like the seventh most "gay-unfriendly" campus in the country, but I beg to differ. The LGBTQ community on campus is very close, yet small. But come on, I mean there are gay people everywhere, and I guess sure there probably are a lot of closeted gay people here in Salt Lake, but I've found Salt Lake to be very accepting of me. The percentage of gay people in Salt Lake is surprisingly very high! You might not guess that the mormon capitol of the world is also home to just as many flamers!
My classmates are very hard workers that don't stop at anything to get good grades. They are very motivated to learn and try to engage in classroom activites, if there are any. There are only a few students who don't try hard enough, and they end up failing. My classmates all seem like they want to succeed in life, and that means working hard for what you want. Some students have time for social activites, and some don't. It just depends on the class work load and how much free time there is.
My classmates are bright, intelligent, dedicated students as they appear to be engaged with the process of learning and preparing for the future of wanting to make not only their personal life better, but they seem to have a desire to improve their families, their community and seek a better understanding for the need of global awareness as we learn from each other's different cultures, lifestyles, ethnicities, and view current concerns.
A majority of my classmates are very attentive during class and are here because they want to be and they want to learn. They utilize their time in as well as out of the classroom to learn the material for each course they are enrolled in. This school is a very fun place to learn and would not be considered a "party school." They are fun and exciting while still accomplishing their work.