Student advocates discuss the importance of services during the COVID-19 pandemic

Jocelyn Perez, Reporter

The California student Higher Education Advocacy Round Table (HEART) has gathered to call on and reach out to college and university leaders to action in areas of urgent need on April 22. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a result of an economic downturn and everyone has been affected by it to some degree. College students are facing countless repercussions, due to the fact that the members of the HEART have outlined recommendations for college officials to an urgent need of action such as learning, basic needs, admissions, graduation, supporting student workers, and undocumented students. 

“There’s been a lack of consistency among many college institutions, it’s vital that students are informed,” transfer student affairs officer, Valerie Johnson said. 

Johnson stated that the colleges’ failure in updating the students of many concerns has led to many contingencies due to many factors. Johnson also noted that it is not fair for students to be regulated to the same standards as when things were significantly better as she referred to the time before the pandemic. 

A repercussion that all college students had to face was online learning. Therefore, more focus should be put on student learning strategies, testing, and analysis, suggested Vice President for Legislative Affairs, Amine El Moznine. 

“As we move to online we need to re-evaluate how we are assessing our students,” Moznine said. Moznine stated that the most vulnerable demographic of the students are those with learning disabilities and are of his main concern. He suggested that resources should be extended to them especially during a difficult time. 

“1 in 4 students is food insecure,” Cal Fresh Food Coordinator, Carolyn Tinoco said. She stated that Social Services consider working with the CalFresh Food Program to make food more attainable. Tinoco described that when students were ordered to leave campus dorms, they also had to leave the food program. Tinoco also said that many international students did not have the option to return home and had nowhere to go. Members of the HEART all agreed that students are often overlooked and not seen as homeless but they do struggle with the issue of not having a home as well. 

Another topic of concern was mental health. All members agreed that there is a lack of consistency in informing the students and it is taking a toll on their mental health. It was noted that some colleges are doing all that they can so that the students have resources and they can depend on. However it is not consistent within the state as a whole. 

Another question of concern was whether or not students will be able to appeal their financial aid offers. Valerie Johnson stated the fact that this question is of concern for many students represented the lack of consistency in communication that the college doesn’t engage in. “We want the Department of Education to know that this is not okay,” Johnson said.