Hunger, homelessness a student concern

Imagine trying to focus your attention on writing a research paper if you have not eaten for a day or more.

Roughly half of American college students face food insecurity while trying to obtain their undergraduate degree. Not only are students facing food insecurity, but in some situations they face homelessness.

College students are typically not the population that we imagine being homeless or having difficulty obtaining food. According to one study conducted by The Hope Center, a non-profit organization serving families in need in Waukesha County, roughly 36% of college students state that they are housing insecure.

A common misconception is that financial aid covers the cost of tuition as well as living expenses. The harsh reality is that financial aid may only cover tuition, leaving many students to struggle to pay for their living expenses.

On this campus, there is rising concern regarding how to help these individuals. Over the past year we have seen the creation of the Campus Food Pantry, as well as the Warhawk Emergency Fund.

There are now places that provide a free meal to college students. Although these resources may be beneficial, some students are still falling through the cracks.

As a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, with a double major in social work and psychology and a double minor in human service foundations and world religions, I was a student that had tried all other options and followed all of the necessary steps in order to ensure that I could finish my last semester and graduate.

I filled out the Warhawk Emergency Fund, got denied twice, met with my financial aid counselor as well as an individual that aids in financial literacy on campus and found myself stuck with only one option–to take out a personal loan at a high interest rate in order to keep a roof over my head for the following semester.

While I received help from friends, it was not enough to cover the high cost of my rent. Thus, I believe that additional funds such as alumni scholarships that can be completed through crowdfunding campaigns or an endowment fund must be created for individuals that do not meet the necessary criteria for the Warhawk Emergency Fund.

With additional funds dedicated to helping college students in need, students will be able to refocus their attention on ensuring that they graduate.

—Brittany Redden

UW-W Senior