Spring 2002 Survey: Religion
General Purpose | Major Findings | Interview Schedule

General Introduction
Fall 2001
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Fall 2002

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General Purpose, Questions, and Sample

Spurred by a well-publicized alumni critique and subsequent discussion of the secularization of the College, we designed the spring survey to learn about the religious background, beliefs, attitudes, and practices of Holy Cross students. The debate over secularization raised questions about the involvement of students in the religious life of the campus. It also suggested that many people associated with the College, including the critical alumni, were making assumptions about students’ religious beliefs and behavior in the absence of systematic empirical evidence. Therefore, a survey of Holy Cross students should provide information of broad interest to the College community.

The spring HCSS included questions that addressed the following topics:

  1. Religious background of students, including each parent’s religion and frequency of church attendance.
  2. Students’ present religious beliefs and activities.
  3. Students’ involvement in the activities of the Campus Ministry Center.
  4. Other student values, attitudes, and behavior such as political views, drinking, attitude toward the death penalty.
  5. Students’ demographic background, such as race, nationality, age, gender, and parent’s education.
  6. Among students who identified their present religious preference as Catholic, support for Catholic doctrine and strength of identity as Catholics.
Many of the questions were drawn from national surveys, including the General Social Survey, the American Catholics Surveys of 1993 and 1999, the 1995 Ministry with Young Adults Survey, and the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey. Using items from these surveys enables us to compare Holy Cross students with various other sample populations on several questions.

Interviews in the spring 2002 HCSS were carried out between March 21 and May 1. A sample of 250 respondents was randomly selected from the 2,576 Holy Cross students enrolled and on campus as of March 2002. The population thus excluded, in addition to those students enrolled in Methods of Social Research, all students who were studying away or abroad or who had taken a leave of absence. A total of 223 interviews were completed, yielding an 89 percent response rate and a margin of error of about 7 percent.

Among the 223 respondents, 54 percent were female, 89 percent were white, 98 percent ranged in age from 18 to 22, 44 percent identified themselves as Irish Americans and 22 percent as Italian Americans. Eighty percent of the respondents lived on campus. And because of the sizeable number of third-year students who study abroad, there were fewer respondents from the third-year class (19 percent) than the other classes (26 to 28 percent).

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