Poverty On College Campuses
4 months ago
From homelessness to food insecurity, college students are increasingly becoming the hidden face of poverty
When it comes to food insecurity, schools across the country have been creating campus food pantries where students can get bag lunches and non-perishables, often anonymously. Michigan State University created what’s believed to be the first student-run pantry in 1993, and the school has helped students and administrators at other schools create their own versions of their program. UCLA and Auburn University have also created food pantries for hungry students.
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Of course there’s more work to be done.
“Schools should work with community agencies, so that they may make appropriate referrals for services," Duffield says. "It is also important to offer services on campus, such as clothing banks, food banks, and counseling. Helping students find housing during academic breaks, including opening up dormitories, is also critical. Establishing a single point of contact to assist students experiencing homelessness is a great strategy to offer support and guidance. And financial aid policies need to be revised to remove barriers to students who are homeless, and completely on their own. Better training about the unique needs of homeless students for financial aid offices, college access programs, and student support services is also needed.”
Tavis Smiley is continuing his crusade against the poverty that leads to unsupported students with the Vision for a New America: A Future Without Poverty symposium, which will be held next Thursday, January 17, at George Washington University. He has called on President Obama to convene a White House Conference on the Eradication of Poverty in America as the first official act of his second term.
“If poverty can be made a national priority, together we can create a plan to cut poverty in half in 10 years, and move closer to eradicating it in the richest nation in the world. This is not a skill problem; this is a will problem,” said Smiley in a press release for the program, which will be simulcast live on C-SPAN.
You can help, too. “Contact local homeless service organizations, as well as school district homeless liaisons, to ask where the greatest gaps lie—it might be in donations of food, clothing or gift cards,” Duffield advises.
And reach out to organizations in your area that are dedicated to helping impoverished students, like the College Success Foundation, which offers opportunities to donate to scholarships, volunteer in academic enrichment programs, mentor individual students and provide internships and jobs to struggling students.
These days, Williams is working an unpaid internship at a PBS affiliate and praying that he’ll find a job shooting and editing film after he claims his hard-won diploma in May. He is studying media arts, and dreams of working for the NFL Network after he graduates.
“I need to find something I love. I’ve been in poverty for too long,” he says. “My diploma is the thing that will sustain me in the future, so I won’t be going through this same stuff for the rest of my life.”
Did you know poverty was a problem on college campuses? Tell us in the comments.