Homelessness, Hunger, and “The WVU Rack”

Though there isn’t enough adequate national data to support this claim, Barbara Duffield, policy director at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) says she believes the number of homeless students has increased over the last few years.

“The Free Application for Federal Student Aid tells the NAEHCY that there are 58,000 homeless students on campuses nationwide.” -USA Today

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As a student myself, it is very hard for me to believe that there are homeless kids who attend WVU, or any other college for that matter. Discovering that an estimated 58,000 students are homeless across the nation is truly alarming. Since some schools aren’t required to keep track of the exact numbers of homeless students, that count would probably increase by quite a lot if they were diligently recorded.

What we don’t realize is that poverty can hide anywhere and can easily go unnoticed. Some students may be too embarrassed to speak up about being homeless or not having enough money for meals each day, while some may not know that their are resources out there to aid them in times of struggle. Depriving your body of enough food day after day can potentially lead to health issues and even hospital trips.

Inspired by other campuses like UCLA, WVU decided to bring “The WVU Rack” to students who may be homeless or hungry. Since “The Rack” (as most people call it) was first set up in the Fall of 2010, WVU has been contacted by staff members from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. out of pure curiosity about the pantry.

As seen above in the video, what once was a somewhat bare shelf in 2010 has grown to a whole new level. “The Rack”, which is tucked away in a small hallway in the Mountainlair, is available to all students to utilize. No one is ever turned away, all that is asked is to sign your first name on the clipboard attached to the rack to keep a record of how many people are using it. It is fully stocked all year long through charitable acts of the Greek community, as well as by staff and student donations.

Items typically donated include:

  • cans of soup
  • Ramen noodles
  • fruit cups
  • poptarts
  • water bottles
  • toiletries

…and so much more.

For more information visit sos.wvu.edu

If you would like to donate to The Rack, you may contact Jacqueline Dooley at the Student Organizations Services office at (304) 293-4397 or Jaqueline.Dooley@mail.wvu.edu.

A diverse look at WVU: Intro

For many students, feeling like they belong or “fit” in with others may be the key to surviving a crazy college town like West Virginia University. Not everyone shares the same thoughts and feelings when it comes to somehow fitting in. For some it comes natural, while others like to focus on school, and some just focusing on how to learn to party. But what do the students do who are simply set out to find people that share the same values or ethnic background as them?

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This photo from the Diversity page on the WVU website captures one of the many performances held during the Diversity Week.

Schools like Connecticut College, Ohio State University, The University of Texas and many others offer and support diverse cultural or ethnic organizations for students and staff. These organizations provide an environment where students can participate in discussions on diversity issues and their ways of life, all while gaining a sense of inclusion and social belonging. Also, colleges like WVU have formed diverse clubs and organizations, along with offering programs and different courses that aim to educate students of different ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs.

According to the Center for American Progress, there are 10 reasons why we need diversity on college campuses:

  1. Our nation is changing, and our higher education institutions need to reflect this diversity.
  2. While communities of color have made great strides in closing the education gap, disparities in higher education remain prevalent.
  3. It’s in our national interest to invest in our future workforce.
  4. Diversity in the workforce fosters innovation and competitiveness in business.
  5. Fortune 500 companies agree that diversity is good for the bottom line.
  6. Diversity is a national security issue.
  7. Diversity on campus benefits all students.
  8. The implications of race-neutral policies in educational opportunities are detrimental to the next generation.
  9. Research shows that race-neutral policies simply don’t work.
  10. The majority of Americans support race-conscious policies in higher education.

The original article explains these 10 listed reasons in much greater detail.

WVU's student enrollment by race/ethnicity according to Forbes.com

WVU’s student enrollment by race/ethnicity according to Forbes.com

Here at WVU there seems to be little diversity, yet the school makes it a point to set aside a whole week focused on issues students from different backgrounds may face. Every day of the week has a specific schedule for each diverse event or theme. Diversity Week includes a wide range of performances, discussions, learning opportunities for students to participate in, and even poetry readings by students and faculty. Whether you are a member of the club presenting or even of the same ethnicity as them, everyone is always welcome including family and friends!

In a Chanel 5 News interview, WVU Chief Diversity Officer David Fryson said, “We’re hoping the type of things we do here will spur the rest of the state to see the value of diversity. So often when you think about diversity you think about our differences, but diversity is the collection of similarities and differences.”

Students and faculty who possess different backgrounds present each other with new perspectives and viewpoints. I feel that adding diversity to your life will only make you a stronger member of society and a more well-rounded global communicator. Diversity helps to enhance discussions during class and even outside of class, which can easily aid in preparation for students to ease into this extremely multicultural world we live in.

The Mountaineer family always sticks together no matter what ethnicity you may be– “There’s a place for you at WVU.”

Make sure to check back in next Friday when I will dig a little deeper into this WVU diversity discussion. I will be telling the story of a recent WVU graduate, Susmita Patel, who actively participated in an ethnic organization while attending school. I will discuss her thoughts on discrimination and how these WVU student groups help international students cope!