By Michelle Moreno Lira
This week, NorCal residents experienced heavy rainfall and strong gusts of winds that brought many power outages for different neighborhoods such as Yolo County and Sacramento. Some Davis residents have been without power since Wednesday night. While many students depend on stable internet connection for their education, those without sufficient resources have to adapt to new conditions.
Although NorCal has seen harsh weather conditions over the past years, it’s more damaging during a year when having electricity is vital for many. Individuals have been working from home since March of last year and a shift into online learning has made many dependent on the internet.
Sources from KTLA claim that tens of thousands of utility customers lost power throughout the San Francisco and Sacramento areas. With cold temperatures and business restrictions, students have no other choice but to fall behind on schoolwork due to power outages and unstable internet connections.
Despite the weather conditions worsening, students have been forced to adapt to a new online learning system that doesn’t include underprivileged students. According to usafacts.org, data taken from the Household Pulse Survey showed that 4.4 million students had unreliable access to a computer while 3.7 million lacked stable internet access.
While I understand that a power outage affects everyone’s daily lives, it’s more damaging to an underprivileged student’s education. According to Forbes, disadvantaged African-American, Hispanic, rural area residents and low-income students are disproportionately affected by online learning. Unprecedented conditions such as power outages during online education make it almost impossible for disadvantaged students to gain equal access.
As someone from a low-income, predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, I understand the disparities that students face regularly. School closures have prevented students from getting daily meals and forced them to adapt to an online learning environment where they must seek stable internet access and, as such, electricity.
While the weather worsens in NorCal, weather analysts say this was caused by a potent atmospheric river weather system that swept in from the Pacific Ocean into certain parts of NorCal. Conditions like these make it difficult for underprivileged students to maintain their education and keep up with the rest of the students who may have access to a stable internet, electricity, learning tools or healthy learning environments.
The divide between privileged and underprivileged students has become more apparent during online education. According to Vox, this is classified as a ‘digital divide’ between low-income students who are unable to afford hotspots or technological devices for school.
Depending on their situations, many students relied on the school as a stable environment. For these students, it makes it almost impossible to adapt to online learning during harsh weather conditions.
Educational inequality has been a problem in America for years. Most Black and Hispanic students don’t have the same opportunity at an equal education compared to a majority of white students. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the high school graduation rate in 2017-18 varied between race. For Black students, the percentage was 79 percent, 81 percent for Hispanic and 89 percent for white students.
While I understand some white communities are also underprivileged, Black and Hispanic students remain at the bottom of the education system.
This data is alarming because it’s challenging to provide yourself with sufficient resources to continue a successful education. Students of color face many obstacles that hinder their education. Thus, they’re forced to find solutions to remain on track.
As harsh weather conditions continue in NorCal, students must navigate through an online system dependent on electricity access. None more so affected than our own UC Davis students themselves who have sought extensions on deadlines and have been forced to study on campus.
Many students were complaining on social media that they’ve been forced to throw out food since they don’t have a working refrigerator to keep their food perishable. College students are already financially struggling after losing stable incomes and unprecedented expenses.
On-campus programs have provided resources such as the Pantry, need-based grants and food vouchers for students in need. Davis students will continue to adapt to new learning environments as the pandemic continues.
Michelle Moreno is a fourth-year majoring in English and minoring in Chicano Studies. She is from Downtown Los Angeles.
Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link: