Report from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), prepared for the US Department of Commerce. This study is, quite possibly, the largest and most comprehensive study to date on the use of technology at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). It is a clearinghouse of irrefutable statistics that demonstrate the digital divide between HBCUs and their white counterparts. An HBCU is dfined by the NAFEO as "[a] post-secondary institution founded prior to the the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with the primary objective of educatiing blacks." This differs from the US Government definition, as found within the Higher Education Act of 1965. It is notable that the NAFEO study claims 118 HBCUs by this definition (as opposed to the estimated 80 schools that fall under the US Gov't definition).
80 HBCUs participated in the NAFEO study. All demonstrated at least some use of computers on their campus, but, it should be noted, for many schools, this was restricted to only institutionally-owned computers, found in public, time-restricted spaces (library, dorm lounge, etc.). 60 of the responding schools reported the lowest possible response to the survey in terms of student technology ownership, that of "less than 25%" of their students owning a personal computer. This means that 75%of students at these HBCUs only had access to public computers. Even at the remaining 20 schools, none reported higher than 49% of their students owning a computer.
50% of the dorms at HBCUs had some connection to the Internet; however, more than 50% of these were institutionally-owned computers, found in a public area, such as a lobby or lounge computer -- not a situation designed for studying. Furthermore, even when an internet connection was available, it was not particularly rapid -- 88% of responding schools stated that they used T-1 speed lines, or lower for internet connection. In comparison, the 2000 United States Census demonstrates that only 38% of black college students (at any and all schools of US-based schools of higher education) have a home computer, as opposed to 70% of white students. Of those 38%, only 40% have internet access. From a comparison of this data, it is clear that the technology gap between white students and black students overall deepens if those black students attend a HBCU.
(NOTE: For general use, educationally related or not, the disparity between white and black internet users is shocking; the Census shows that only 6% of the estimated 58 million internet users are black.)
This is relevant to my paper in that it shows a demonstrable gap between the computing resources available to students at HBCUs and those available to students at traditionally white institutions. This gap restricts access to information, as well as the means by which access is gained (public vs. private, etc.). This data is from 2000 -- eight years ago. As a result, I am a little wary of it. However, other studies as recent at 2006 continue to cite these statistics, so I trust that the greater academic community at large finds them to still be relevant (or, at the least, that the disparity demonstrated still remains in place).