As part of Homelessness Awareness Week, the California State University system hosted a virtual event Tuesday to discuss how the CSU plans to help students facing housing and food insecurity.
Rashida Crutchfield, associate professor in the School of Social Work at Long Beach State, and Jennifer Maguire, associate professor of social work at Humboldt State University, found that students have been increasingly dependent on services since March, when the coronavirus caused universities to transition to virtual instruction across the United States.
Their research has shown that a loss of jobs and family priorities have increased difficulties for students to have ample income, forcing many to either move back home with their families or live in their vehicles.
“The CSU system is increasing their efforts to help solve this issue at hand,” Crutchfield said. “There are many students who are right now dealing with being unable to have housing or food, or both.”
Presented in a 2019 study regarding student service access and basic needs for CSU students, their research found that African American and Hispanic students were more likely to suffer from housing and food insecurities than white students and Asian Americans.
Lea M. Jarnagin, special assistant for the Division of Student Affairs at CSU, said that all CSUs have the opportunity to promote a more welcoming culture on their campuses by taking initiative to increase awareness and information sharing.
“What the universities need to do is open the conversation, and not just with a small number of people in a closed group,” she said. “The CSUs should be training their staff and faculty members to recognize the problems and to help point students towards the right sources.”
Many CSU campuses are holding events on their respective campuses to promote and bring awareness to the issue of students facing housing and food insecurity.
In an effort to offer aid to students, CSULB has been holding drive-thru pop-up food pantry events through the Associated Students, Inc. to provide produce and non-perishable goods.
Other CSU campuses will be hosting their own food drives and panels to discuss the issue of struggling students. California State University, Chico, for instance, will be holding two Zoom events to provide an overview of basic needs services offered by the university and to provide rental tips and information.
Michael Taylor, a student at Stanislaus State, called for the CSU campuses and their communities to take meaningful action to help this community of students.
“I call to action for everyone to take the first step to helping find a solution,” he said. “Students should have the basic rights to housing and not live in constant fear.”