CA Students Press Colleges for Aid in COVID Crisis

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Student leaders are asking California college administrators for help, including continued access to campus health services and assistance for students with disabilities. Photo Credit: Unsplash

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Student leaders are calling on college administrators to coordinate a COVID-19 plan to help students across the state.

The California Students Higher Education Advocacy Roundtable, or ‘HEART,’ outlined its priorities in a letter this week to leaders of the University of California, California State University and community college systems.

The group is asking that campus services remain open whenever possible for students who have nowhere else to go. Carolyn Tinoco, CalFresh Food coordinator and Associated Students Incorporated director of legislative affairs at California State University Dominguez Hills, says many need emergency cash grants.

“I think students are really having a tough time meeting their basic needs,” says Tinoco. “Especially in the CSU, we already know that one out of every four students is food insecure, and one out of every ten is housing insecure.”

HEART is asking campuses to waive fees for breaking on-campus leases and work with local landlords to allow students ample time to handle missed rent payments. The group also wants a break on certain college deadlines and help for students who don’t have laptops or Wi-Fi.

Valerie Johnson, transfer student affairs officer with the UC Student Association and a student at UC Berkeley, says lawmakers should make sure the federal CARES Act money goes to actually help students – and then, to protect college and university budgets going forward.

“One thing that the Legislature can do is continue to fund our colleges at the highest capacity possible,” says Johnson. “So that students aren’t seeing what they saw during the last time there was an economic downturn and the cost of colleges doubling or tripling.”

The group also asks that campuses provide paid leave to students with on-campus jobs, keep undocumented students updated on the types of aid available to them, and make sure that uninsured students can still access on-campus health services.

Funding for this reporting was made possible by Lumina Foundation.