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Students’ Reality During a Pandemic

I am a student at San Jose State University and I haven’t been on campus in seven months. 

You don’t think it can happen to you until it does. When the pandemic hit, it didn’t care who it hurt or who was left behind. Neither did the vicious leasing offices in downtown San Jose. At the time, I lived in an apartment across the street from campus, with a few roommates. 

Dissatisfied with my current living situation, I eagerly signed a new apartment lease in November of 2019. It was advertised as a glamorous apartment complex designed for students, scheduled to open the following year. It was slightly more expensive than what I was paying at the time, but it had so many student resources, it seemed like a no brainer for me.

That was until Coronavirus hit, everything changed. Classes were moved online, and San Jose’s reported cases of the virus were sharply increasing, so I had no choice but to immediately move back home, as it was the most practical option for me.

My family’s lives solely rely on my father’s commission, as he is paying rent for our house back in Union City, along with my full college tuition and my new home. Living in the Bay Area is not easy, nor is it affordable.

We were financially struggling due to the pandemic and were barely making rent for our current home, let alone extra payments for a house I wasn’t living in. We terminated our original lease a few months earlier, but it was an incredibly tedious process. After a long battle, I finally moved out of the first apartment but was still locked into the lease for the new apartment. The leasing office’s policy was essentially: we don’t care if you’re sick, financially unable to make your payments, or whether you’re able to move in or not. You still owe us $13,000 and if you want to get out of your lease, it’s on you to find your replacement.

Housing companies are greedy and inconsiderate. They don’t care about who they hurt in the process, as long as they get their money. We are not seen as people, but as targets with dollar signs on our foreheads. They know we are desperate students already struggling to pay exorbitant tuition rates, and they take advantage of that.

This pandemic has touched all aspects of society in some way or shape. There is no shame in speaking up about any kind of setbacks, including financial ones, as we’re all going through similar issues. We need more compassion and understanding and less judgment during these difficult and stressful times. We need to speak up and stand together.

I know I am not the only one.

I know I am not alone.

This is why our local representative needs to work to resolve these issues for students like me. I call upon State Assemblymember Ash Klara to look into options for helping students like me, the future of this nation. 

Myenn Rahnoma is a second year Journalism major at San Jose State University. She’s passionate about helping others and advocating for their issues, ranging from mental health to basic human rights. In the future, she hopes to continue supporting her community and raising awareness on societal issues.