Survey gauges community service involvement

Jennie Kushner

The Community Service Center is asking students to participate in its first annual Civic Engagement Survey.

Wahnee Sherman, CSC director, said the point of the ongoing survey is to analyze student involvement with community service, service learning and engagement.

The survey was sent out by the assessment office earlier this month and will close after finals. Thus far, about 1,500 students have completed it.

“I think it will be great to see what areas students are most interested in and what areas students have been engaged in,” Sherman said. “There may be areas that students have done service in that we weren’t aware of, so [the survey] will allow us to adjust what we are offering.”

Sherman said the survey asks students about types of service, service-related groups and specific areas of community involvement and political involvement in the community.

“I think that our students are engaged with the community, whether that is through service learning courses that they are in, churches, community organizations or though things that the CSC offers,” Sherman said. “I think there is always room for improvement and more to be done, but I think as a whole our students are pretty engaged.”

Sherman said it is difficult to compare the University of Alabama with other schools in the Southeastern Conference, but she said she feels UA students have built a foundation for service.

“I know that the students who come here from high school, a very large percentage of them had done service in high school,” she said.

“In general, this is a generation that has been more engaged in service in high school and college than, say, my generation of students,” Sherman said. “Because of the quality of students at the University of Alabama, there is an increased level of involvement and giving back.”

Once the data is analyzed, Sherman said the information may be posted on the CSC website.

Despite sending out the survey, Sherman said it is difficult to gauge the exact number of students active in service.

“If students are not registering their hours, if they are doing service in the community and not through us or if they are involved in a service learning class, that number can be hard to get at,” she said.

Students who have already participated in the survey encourage their peers to do so.

Shellie Adams, a sophomore majoring in political science, has been active in the community since her high school days and said she would like to see more involvement from students on campus.

“I have grown up being taught to help others,” she said. “I currently volunteer with my church and I have done some things through the CSC. I think this survey is a great way to gauge numbers so we can see what areas do need improvement on campus.”

Chris Rice, a junior majoring in marketing, said he’s interested to see the results from the survey.

“I think it’s great that the CSC is looking to better themselves by sending out this type of survey,” Rice said. “I think they do a great job now, but with actual numbers, they will be able to get more involvement from students once they see what their needs are.”