Homeless, but not hopeless

There’s an invisible struggle taking place on college campuses across the nation. Many of us who have had the privilege of a place to stay wouldn’t pay it much mind, if not for sheer lack of knowledge.

There are homeless college students passing by your side each day, who may be ashamed of their current situation, too embarrassed to ask for help. Yet on the 2013 FAFSA, more than  58,000 students identified as homeless, a 75 percent increase over the last three years, according to affordablecollegeonline.org.

Consider all the normal struggles of being a student: worrying about grades, allotting adequate time for studying and trying to have a social life.

Now add in the tremendous burden of not having a home. Crashing on friends couches or sleeping in a car, if they’re fortunate enough to have one. Homeless shelters aren’t always a guarantee.           

It is time for Pierce College to take a proactive approach and vocalize any resources they offer for their homeless scholars. There are many government-sponsored programs that help millions of students, if only under strict guidelines.

Helping homeless youth doesn’t have to break the bank. It doesn’t even have to involve housing per se. It just has to invoke a sense of community.

Why not renovate one of the infamously disgusting restrooms into a communal laundromat? The plumbing is already there. This service should be available to everyone at Pierce, for a small fee. The barcode on student ID’s can serve as a subtle way for homeless students to be given access without being charged.     

The administration should open our seemingly-perpetually closed cafeteria one night a week for a soup-kitchen style gathering. There are various volunteer organizations who have the resources, but not a location, to give those in need a hot meal. Let’s give them a venue to gather in.

The Student Health Center is known for being vastly underutilized. Students pay their health fee, and fail to even ask what they get in return. This is not however, the fault of the actual Student Health Center.

The administration needs to use their influence to ensure the wide variety of services offered is common knowledge. When you’re homeless, it’s hard to keep track of what your school offers when you don’t know where your next meal is or where you’re going to lay your head at night.  

Very recently, a financial aid counselor was made available throughout the week in the library. In addition to that service, Pierce should have a program that connects professional counselors who specialize in homeless youth to help them find a place to live.

If a homeless student is attending post-secondary education of any kind, it’s safe to assume they don’t want to stay homeless forever, so why not lend a hand to those who’ve been dealt a bad one?