Student requests bring housing insecurity to CAEB’s attention

Student Senate coordinates with Beaver Food Pantry to address student housing and food insecurity amidst campus closure


Since campus closures, the Beaver Food Pantry has not been operating on campus. As student housing and food insecurity increases, the Basic Needs Student Senate Committee is partnering with the pantry, that is still operating remotely in partnership with the Sacramento Food Bank to address those student needs. (File photo by Emily Mello)

By Alexander Musa
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One of the major issues American River College faced as the lockdown began in March was student housing insecurity. The Associated Student Body Clubs and Events Board’s efforts to coordinate with the Beaver Food Pantry to address these challenges were disrupted by the rush to set up online learning and virtual conference spaces.

CAEB convened Sept. 15 for its weekly meeting to discuss moving forward with assisting the food pantry, the available budget and other upcoming events and activities. President Mark Sheppard opened the meeting with remarks on the WOW Palooza event that happened on Sept. 17, as well as promoting Constitution Day.

“There’s gonna be a lot of things happening,” Sheppard said. 

CAEB adviser Brett Sawyer stressed the importance of Constitution Day to CAEB attendees.

“[It’s] something that the district kind of mandates that folks recognize,” Sawyer said. “Since you are all student leaders, it’s a perfect opportunity to showcase that.”

In an email to Current staff, Student Senator Laurie Jones said that recognition of Constitution Day is required to maintain Title IV eligibility, due to provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2005 added by the late U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd in 2004.  These provisions established September 17 of each year as Constitution Day. Educational institutions that receive federal funding from the Department of Education are required to provide educational programs focused on the U.S. Constitution in recognition of the day.

Sawyer also discussed the new ASB website. The new site is where information about student senate bills, resolutions, CAEB and senate meeting archives, committees, information resources and contact information for the members of the ASB can be found, according to Sawyer. Currently, ConferZoom recordings of remote meetings for both CAEB and the Student Senate held during the fall semester are archived online.

“It’s up and running and looking great,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer also brought attention to the issue of student housing insecurity during the pandemic lockdown.

“I have been, in the last week and a half, bombarded with student requests about housing,” Sawyer said. “Anything from they need help finding an apartment with little to no money, to they’re sleeping in a car, to they’re being kicked out of a hotel.”

The Student Senate and CAEB have been working with the Beaver Food Pantry to assist with student housing, food and security despite the challenges presented by the lockdown.

“I know the senate is working on some basic needs stuff, and I know CAEB has been right there with them,” Sawyer said. “Just know that the work you’re trying to do is going to make an impact. I know we’re frustrated by how long it’s taking, but know that the need is there and it’s going to continue to grow.”

Sawyer encouraged CAEB members to reach out to him if they encountered a student with housing needs, but also urged attendees to reach out to the food pantry for other needs.

“They still have some Walmart gift cards left, and they actually have more on order,” Sawyer said.

After the public comments period, the focus of the meeting shifted to discussing the CAEB budget for the 2020-2021 academic year.

According to Sawyer, the budget is currently $10,890. These funds would be used for decorations, flyers and giveaways related to club activities.

“Whatever’s not used goes to clubs at the end of the year based on club points,” Sawyer said. 

According to Sawyer, this is the same amount that was assigned to CAEB in the previous year. The money for this pool of funds comes from several different sources, including the sales of parking permits, $2 day passes and the replacement of Student ID cards, Sawyer said.

“The problem is that no one’s buying those right now,” Sawyer said. 

However, if CAEB experiences a budget shortfall, there are alternatives, according to Sawyer. The Student Senate has access to $96,925 from the same funding pool.

“The senate could be more flexible on how they divvy that up at the next Joint Budget Committee meeting, so that’s something that [the committee] will need to talk about,” Sawyer said. 

The spring semester JBC meeting with CAEB was postponed due to the COVID-19 lockdown. According to Sawyer, the current CAEB budget may be due to the Business Office looking at “the budget for the previous year, and say, okay, they had $10,890, we’re just going to redo it again.” 

The next CAEB meeting is scheduled for Sept. 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.