Palomar recently broke ground for their new food bank that is targeted at helping those in the community with food insecurities, but is it enough?
In 2016, California State University (CSU) conducted a study on homelessness in their own college community. They found that roughly eight to 12 percent of their students were homeless.
In 2017, the University of Wisconsin’s HOPE lab built upon the CSU study and surveyed students in 24 different states at 70 different community colleges. They found that 14 percent of the students surveyed were homeless.
It used to be that a student could graduate with a high school diploma, support a family and have the basic comforts of the American dream. Those days are no longer.
A college degree has become a gateway to not only success, but a necessity for those looking for their white picket fence. According to the Department of Education, from 1980 to 2014, the average cost for tuition, housing and general fees has risen from $9,438 to $23,872, an increase of nearly 153 percent.
Despite this, the people in charge still tell students that they should be able to get through their education without societies support, because they did. That’s like asking 5 foot person to dunk a basketball because Michael Jordan can.
Students are our future, and the future is being crushed by the weight of college debt. Students such as those that apply for donations from Palomar’s food bank do so out of necessity, and it is great that Palomar College has taken the initiative to support these people. But we would ask that they take it a step further.
At the food bank groundbreaking, Palomar President Joi Lin Blake said, “If colleges are more retentional about their approach to serving students and colleges are responding to who our students are and their diverse needs, we can increase student success, we can create social change, we can have a social impact.”
Administration often echoes the sentiment that Palomar is a shining beacon to our community, we believe it should shine brighter. It should shine as a beacon of hope to students without a home to rest their head at night.
We feel that Palomar should leave open the parking garage and offer an overnight space to students who are living out of their cars, so that they may have a place to park without fear of being towed.
How could this work? Students could pay a small fee to certify their semester parking pass for overnight parking in the garage where they are protected from the weather.
Palomar could also offer workshops for homeless students. Workshops that teach them how to navigate applying for government programs (not student loans and financial aid), looking into living places, how to live out of their cars safely, applying for health insurance with no money, how to balance work, life, and school under all the stress.
There’s a myriad of issues these students are trying to work through just to be able to survive long enough to graduate college. But these students are barely keeping their heads above water.
Palomar could help. Palomar could be the impact. Palomar could be the change. Palomar has declared its willingness to stand beside dreamers, it should do the same for the homeless.