10% of Cal State Students Homeless
The California State University is a public university system in California, with over 23 campuses and 8 centers.
The staff and student population is huge, with at least 460,000 students enrolled, but the university’s own study reveals that one in ten students is, in fact, homeless.
The school began its study on homelessness and food insecurity among its students back in April 2015. In a conference this week, CSU revealed its findings:
“Staff, faculty, and administrators estimated displaced students at 8.7% and food insecure students at 21%; however, preliminary student survey results from one school showed a higher population (12% and 24%).
Students who experienced food and/or housing instability reported high levels of stress and the need for single points of contact.”
The conference in Long Beach hosted over 150 administrators, students, advocacy and reform groups, and researchers.
Cal State Chancellor Timothy P. White, who commissioned the study, said,
“We’re going to find solutions that we can take to scale. Getting this right is something that we just simply have to do.”
The study was first done “to shed light on how CSU campuses were meeting the needs of displaced and food insecure students and to offer recommendations to ensure success and graduation for these students.”
The researched involved interviews of over 92 students and 4 focus groups from California State University’s different campuses.
The team, led by Dr. Rashida Crutchfield, assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Cal State Long Beach, conducted surveys and interviews among the university’s students, staff, and faculty.
Crutchfield and her team learned that many professors kept food on their tables for some students, but the issue the school is facing is much more than that. Her team also wanted to include those students who slept on couches or inside their vehicles.
Of the 23 campuses, 11 have a homeless support service for students. According to the study,
“Systemic strategies found most common were food pantries, food vouchers, and participant referrals and linkages for students to community housing facilities or other social service resources.”
California State University, Fresno, in order to help students who struggle with getting food, has developed an app that notifies students when food is available from the leftover food from catered campus events.
More than 56,000 college students have identified themselves as homeless. The concept, though, is hard to define, especially in higher education, as some of the students deliberately choose to live without a proper or fixed residence or house.
“On the Streets”, a web series about homelessness led UCLA graduate student, Louis Tse, to contacting the journalist behind it, Lisa Biagotti. Tse himself is homeless, yet is pursuing a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering.
He lives in his car and thinks that not having a house or residence is “the best option to achieving his post-doctorate goals”. Tse says in the video that it was a rational decision to cut costs in order to complete his education, which is not cheap.
Many students with unstable housing don’t report their problems primarily because of the shame associated with being homeless.
Tse himself did not make his professors aware of his situation because he didn’t want to be “treated different.”
The social stigma and connotations involved in identifying as homeless stops many students from seeking help, which in turn makes it difficult for the university to help them.