It’s tough enough to pass exams and navigate all the traditional difficulties faced in college, but now it turns out that about one in 10 of California State University’s 460,000 students is homeless.
And a new study reported Tuesday showed one in five doesn’t have steady access to enough food.
The study, intended to address an issue that remains largely undocumented at the nation’s public universities, was commissioned by Cal State Chancellor Timothy P. White.
At a conference in Long Beach, where more than 150 administrators, researchers, students and advocacy groups gathered to exchange ideas, case studies and their personal experiences with the issue, White Monday emphasized the need for Cal State, the largest public university system in the nation, to tackle the issue systematically across its 23 campuses, according to published reports.
Homelessness in higher education is difficult to study and measure accurately, and experts praised Cal State for trying to quantify the scope of an issue with limited data.
Across the country, the number of students who experience food insecurity largely is undocumented and unknown,and the number of homeless students tends to be underreported in national surveys, said Clare Cady, who led Oregon State University’s program to support homeless students and is now addressing the issue on a national level with the antipoverty nonprofit Single Stop.
Students with unstable housing conditions are not required to say so, and many are reluctant to seek help because of the shame associated with homelessness, said Rashida Crutchfield, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Cal State Long Beach, who led the first phase of the study.
Crutchfield, who launched her research in April 2015, interviewed 92 students and conducted four focus groups at urban and rural campuses, The Los Angeles Times reported. She and her team also sent out surveys.
Initial findings indicated that an estimated 8 to 12 percent of Cal State’s students are homeless, and 21 to 24 percent are food insecure, she said.
— Staff and wire reports
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