Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Catherine L. Polydore


This study examined African American students' perceptions of and experiences with police officers with particular emphasis on campus police in order to determine whether these perceptions and experiences could impact their college experience. Participants were seven African American students from urban areas who attended a midsize university in the rural Midwest during the fall 2017 semester, and who had some interaction with law enforcement. Data was collected from one-on-one semi-structured interviews. Questions were structured to elicit participants' direct or indirect prior experiences with police officers, their perceptions of police officers and campus police, and tacit impact that these experiences and perceptions may have on their college experience. The findings suggest that African American students feel racially profiled by, and hold negative views of police officers. The researcher concludes African Americans feel discriminated against by, and are fearful of police officers. Students' opinions of possible solutions are also presented.