Civic Engagement and Black College Students: A Pilot Study


  • Barbara Hewins-Maroney


Higher Education, Civic Engagement, Black Students


Anecdotal information indicated that many African American young adults in a Midwestern community were not engaged in organizations and institutions within the community. A pilot survey was developed and administered to thirty-nine college students ranging in age from eighteen to twenty-five to determine if the anecdotal information was accurate and what might be the causes of the lack of engagement. The pilot survey indicated that over 50 percent of the students had volunteered within a twelve-month period, but that their participation was not on-going. Students did not believe they were expected to participate in the affairs of their neighborhoods or in the overall community. They did, however, believe they were expected to participate in college activities. The initial survey indicated that the students had meager access to the leadership in the Black community and even less contact with local and state government officials. They did feel they had access to university staff and administrators. Implications of the pilot study point to the importance of a sense of belonging in defining one's community. A sense of belonging gives significance to engagement and empowers individuals to act in significant ways.