What are Basic needs? The Hope Center best defines students’ basic needs as access to nutritious and adequate food; safe, secure, and adequate housing; healthcare for mental and physical well-being; affordable technology and transportation; resources for personal hygiene; and childcare and related needs. Since 2020, there has been an overwhelming need for basic needs in our colleges and universities. Significant number of students reported dropping out of school due to their already stress and anxiety. Colleges are supposed to be a safe haven for its students, but during the pandemic, colleges have still yet to sustain their needs. In this campaign, we will focus on the insights into our CUNY and SUNY students and what needs to be addressed.
“Family provided most of my basic needs. I lived with my family while working part-time, which allowed me to focus on my studies better. Unfortunately, college could not provide for my basic needs, so I needed to rely on my family, who was more than willing to help and let me have peace of mind to focus. That peace of mind allowed me to better focus on my studies and properly commit, so I am very thankful my family provided me with the basic needs.
A personal thought I’ve had is that if colleges can offer more in terms of the basic needs of students, not only will it allow them to flourish in their studies to perform better, resulting in them being able to achieve the goals to enter their respective dream careers, but it will also reflect on a college’s reputation as well. More young adults will have a desire to pursue continued education in post-secondary institutions if this is how things went.”
– Student from Mercy College
“My parents helped me most of the time regarding money-related needs. If I needed food, they sent me money. School supplies: they sent me money. Even fun stuff like video games were sometimes bought with their money instead of my own (though they weren’t always aware at that time…), or lack thereof. I was honestly fortunate to have had their help, and I am still lucky to have them in my life. I don’t think I could have made it through college without mom and dad. My college, however, did not provide anything to meet my basic needs. Rarely was anything truly “free of charge.”
– Student from Lehman College
“When in college, I filed for independence. My mom and I knew that we would barely receive aid with her job. At the age of seventeen, my mother stopped claiming me on her taxes which helped me. My father also passed, making it a single-parent support system. It was difficult for my mother to fund college, as it is for many other parents. She suggested I get food stamps. With food stamps, I was always guaranteed food. I taught myself how to cook and got groceries in bulk monthly to last until another payment was made the next month. During my sophomore to senior year of college, I worked to support what I wanted to do- outings, traveling, exploring, etc.. Once removing the room and board, I was able to receive more aid. SUNY had also issued CARES ACT grants while allowing students to request more funds, which helped a lot (I never needed to ask more). I later obtained a job in my housing complex, which helped me become more responsible and a percentage off my monthly rate. So yes, I did struggle during my time in college but not much like the other students. I hope you guys are successful in this mission.”
– Student from Buffalo State
Policies You Should Support
Are basic need programs on college campuses necessary for students and faculty alike?
“Yes I’d like to think they should be necessary, a priority if you will.”
“I didn’t know basic needs programs extend to faculty. I don’t believe it should. They should just get higher wages.”
“While students and faculty may share similar basic needs problems. Accessibility to resolve these issues may be different from students to faculty because faculty are gainfully employed and earn an income to resolve their basic needs problem.”
“Basic need programs are necessary for students and faculty and should be a priority in budgeting for the college”
“Yes they are essential for both students and faculty.”
“My thoughts on basic need programs throughout the nation is that there aren’t enough of them. However the few that are out there aren’t out there as much as they should be. I feel like colleges need more of these types of programs and to make sure that it’s being pushed as much as possible so for students or faculty that do need help they know where to go.”
– Students from Medgar Evers College
Students are the power that controls an institution and its voice. What would you say if you could speak to all students nationwide on behalf of basic needs programs?
“I feel like basic needs programs should be available for all students regardless of race, gender or financial status. Also they should be as easy to access as it is to access blackboard.”
“The program shouldn’t have educational qualifications like a passing gpa. A student could be depressed from financial situations. The food pantry program doesn’t use gpa as a rubric. I would tell students even if they don’t need the program themselves, talk about it and share the info with ppl around you.”
“I would say to all students nationwide with closed mouths don’t get fed and our education matters and we need programs like this to assist fellow students that need it and we all deserve the opportunity to graduate.”
“If I could speak to students nationwide on basic needs programs, I would highlight how students are one of the voting demographics underrepresented in policy due to biases relating to students as dependents. To not only help students become independent of conditional family support is not only a way to support young adults through the college process, but brings the potential of creating thriving communities that could improve the country at large. Basic needs programs not only can contribute to academic success but can build community, lead to innovative solutions to address problems, and can be a pathway to prevent students from further challenges related to student debt that now plague the largest and least engaged population in the workforce that has been negatively impacted by a lack of basic needs programs. If elected officials are serious about planning for the future, basic needs programs are an investment in the future of labor in the country.”
“We need to be more vocal on the things we need. We can not receive any form of help if we remain silent.”
– Students from Medgar Evers College