Attending college is hard enough, but enrolling at a private university that's owned by a church not of your own faith could make life downright miserable.
That's the challenge Royce D'Souza and more than 200 other students attending Brigham Young University (owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) have.D'Souza, a Roman Catholic, has attended BYU for the past year and a half and is the president of the Catholic Newman Club on campus.
Most non-LDS students attending the university are there on sports scholarships or have been impressed by certain programs or departments on campus. A large portion of them, like D'Souza, are foreign students. He is originally from India.
Juliana Boerro-Goates, a non-LDS faculty adviser for the Students of Other Faiths club, said the club organized at BYU to help students adjust to their new environment and to take care of their needs in at least two different areas:
-Spiritual needs: For many students, it's the first time they have needed to verbalize their beliefs. Most of them have never been around one predominant religion or have had to really analyze what they believe.
-Social needs. The major problem for non-LDS men is that a number of LDS women prefer not to date men who haven't served an LDS mission. Conversely, many LDS men avoid dating women they can't marry in an LDS temple. These factors complicate or eliminate many social and dating opportunities - activities that go in tandem with the college ex-per-ience.
"I really don't think there is discrimination here, but you can be a social outcast if people find out you're of another faith," D'Souza said, "and there can be some isolation."
D'Souza says he's experienced what many LDS people face outside of Utah.
"Being a Roman Catholic at BYU, you get people shooting questions at you on several different things about Catholic beliefs," D'Souza said.
Most of the time people will dwell on the negative aspects of your religion, like LDS people being questioned about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, he said.
"Being a Catholic, you have more questions about the Inquisition than other (positive) things about the church," he said.
Although non-LDS students arriving at BYU find their needs more as obstacles, Boerro-Goates says the school's administration understands their unique position.
"We have a very good relationship with. . . . President Rex Lee and the administration and have found them willing to consider anything we want to bring up," she said. "In terms of top administration, they are some of the best to work with."
According to Brother Tom Thing, Newman Club adviser, St. Francis Catholic Church in Provo also sponsors a Young Adult Club where students from Utah Valley Community College join with BYU students in devotional services, scripture study and social events.
"Most of the students are not aware until they get here how predominant the LDS faith really is," Brother Tom said.
To ease students into the BYU atmosphere, the university has as part of its orientation a program for students of other faiths, where non-LDS students are able to meet and get to know each another.
A joint barbecue for the Newman Club and Students of Other Faiths Club will be Sunday, Sept. 13, at the Provo Kiwanis Park. On Thursday, Sept. 17, a meeting will be held for BYU and UVCC students to talk about the experiences they have had so far in Utah Valley.
For information call Brother Tom at 374-5001, Dr. Allen Tull at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 373-3090 or Juliana Boerro-Goates at BYU, 378-2302.