The responsibility of Higher Ed admin, staff, and faculty

The recent publication by the WiHOPE lab of their research into Hunger and Homelessness on Community College campuses, has prompted a boom of discussion and analyses in a diverse collection of sources . Though I have not completed reading the published document, I have read analyses from Diverse, Inside Higher Ed, and NPR. Initially in responses I tweeted I expressed concern over the line “many college administrators and faculty members feel providing these services or opening access to them shouldn’t be the college’s responsibility” in the the analysis by Inside Higher Ed. A brief exchange with Sara Goldrick-Rab (a co-author of the report) helped me realize my wording was incorrect and suggested an issue with the report which was not the case, my issue was with the sentiment behind the line administrators and faculty feeling or suggesting that some aspects of student success were not in their purview.

I find it unfortunate that there are instructors, administrators, and staff members on college and university campuses that may not see how their roles need to encompass many areas of student well being. Without knowing these students’ stories -maybe they do?- they have decided that it isn’t in their wheelhouse to enure students have access to all the resources they might need in college. The WiHOPE report determines that 14% of community college students surveyed are homeless and nearly half are housing insecure. While we cannot expect admin or faculty -particularly as we see increasing casualization/adjunctification- to open up their homes or put students up in hotels, they can at least provide empathy and support in ensuring students have access to the resources for public assistance & navigating college bureaucracy to access institutional resources. Resources are there -in many cases- for those that know they exist and how to access them. A student who is hungry or homeless may not have the economic or social capital to access these resources. This is every professional on campus’ responsibility and it will only become more important as states/the fed continue to dis-invest in public institutions.

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