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Report 94-2: Good Works: The Impact of the Human Corps on California's Public Universities. An Evaluation for the Legislature of the Effects of Assembly Bill 1820 (Chapter 1245, Statutes of 1987)

Published by The California Postsecondary Education Commission

April 1994

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In 1986, at the direction of the Legislature, the California State University and the University of California created "Human Corps" programs to encourage greater community service on the part of their students. The Legislature intended that students be required to participate in the Human Corps, but both universities raised serious concerns about compulsory service. As a result, in 1987 the Legislature directed the California Postsecondary Education Commission to evaluate the efforts of the Human Corps as a voluntary program and by Spring 1994 recommend a compulsory program if the Commission concludes that the voluntary program has not increased student participation in community service substantially.

In this report, the Commission seeks to respond to the Legislature's directive. Its conclusions and recommendations appear in Part Three. Part One traces the origins and development of the Human Corps in both universities, and Part Two evaluates the impact of the program on students, their institutions, communities, and the State. The Commission states its belief that the Legislature was not unreasonable in hoping that California's university students would devote an average of 30 hours a year -- or five minutes a day -- to community improvement. It reports that the Human Corps far exceeded this legislative goal, despite not being compulsory, because of the trend among students in recent years toward greater volunteer services. Because of this trend, so Many students volunteered so many more hours than 30 a year that they more than made up the hours of the others. Thus the Commission concludes that "the spirit of AB 1820 has been absorbed into the culture of California's two public universities even though the law did not require all students to participate," and "no new legislation is now needed comparable to AB 1820, although legislation to fund public service -- particularly by low-income students -- would clearly be useful." The Commission then observes:

While AB 1820 is no longer needed, given the cycles in American life between private interest versus community action, the interest of students in community action is likely to level off after the turn of the century and begin slipping to its next nadir about the year 2010. By then, the Legislature would be well advised to revisit the State's need for a Human Corps of university students and to try once again, as in 1986, to encourage the application of students' rationality to the conduct of life.

The commission adopted this report on April 18, 1994 on recommendation of its Educational Policy and Programs Committee.

Related Topics: Enrollment Demand and Capacity Analysis

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