A Seat at the Table is by Christine Wolff-Eisenberg and appears in Inside Higher ED
“Higher education institutions are increasingly paying attention to the basic needs of their students. Not a week goes by in which I don’t hear about new initiatives to address food and nutrition insecurity, connect students with stable housing, and innovate around new services for particular populations like student parents. Federal and state legislatures are also fostering this work through increased investment in, for example, creating hunger-free campuses and considering expanded campus transit infrastructure. The higher education basic needs movement has real momentum behind it.
“Those efforts are occurring for good reason. My organization, the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, has worked hard to bring such issues to the fore, in part by documenting the magnitude of unmet student need. Over the years, we have consistently found that a majority of college students across the country—roughly three in five—experience food insecurity, housing insecurity or homelessness. We have used those data to further examine and address shortcomings in the higher education system, in partnership with policy makers, community organizations and hundreds of colleges and universities.
“The higher education basic needs movement is not only growing but becoming more sophisticated. Currently, many students—about half, according to our research—do not know how or where to receive support to deal with their basic needs insecurity. That said, however, it is unreasonable to believe that one person or office alone can sufficiently address the gaps in service provision and information dissemination. A systems-level approach, one that brings together a variety of campus communities to provide support and share information, is essential for the formation and long-term success of what we refer to at the Hope Center as a basic needs ecosystem.
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“And yet I’ve noticed that one group is often missing from such campuswide initiatives: library workers…”
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