When I read this article from Sara Goldrick-Rab "Basic Needs Security and the Syllabus" from August of last year, it really resonated with me, due to several projects I'm currently working on that have somehow converged--it is that time of year when faculty are asking for tips on creating their syllabi or feedback on items they should perhaps add, I'm collaborating on initiatives to try to save students money on textbooks, our office has been working with graduate students since 2017, and of course, we are always conscious of our mission here at XULA.
Professor Goldrick-Rab decided to include the following statement in her syllabus for a Master's higher education course:
Any student who faces challenges securing their food or housing and believes this may affect their performance in the course is urged to contact the Dean of Students for support. Furthermore, please notify the professor if you are comfortable in doing so. This will enable her to provide any resources that she may possess.
Professor Goldrick-Rab said that she decided to add this to her graduate syllabus to acknowledge that students face financial challenges that could affect their performance in their courses, to let them know that she cares about them, and to try to point them in the right direction for resources.
It makes me wonder how many of our own students are threatened with basic needs security. Would you, as an instructor, add similar verbiage to your own syllabus? Do you know any students who are hungry or homeless? I don't, but just yesterday, a parent called me to say that they couldn't afford to send their son back to XULA for the fall--it was just too expensive. She wanted to find out if there were enough online courses offered so that he could continue his studies while they tried to save and perhaps he could attend in person again in the spring. Many of our students and their families are struggling, and perhaps they would appreciate it if we do acknowledge their challenges, even in a small way, such as adding a statement to our syllabus and providing resources for them.
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From NPR today: "Up to half of college students in recent published studies say they either are not getting enough to eat or are worried about it. This food insecurity is most prevalent at community colleges, but it's common at public and private four-year schools as well."