Student Opinion: UC Davis Encourages Students to Stay on Campus

(Tommy Ly)

By Michelle Moreno Lira

In an effort to reduce all non-essential travel in the city of Davis, UC Davis has offered students to stay on campus instead of leaving for Spring Break. Although they advertised a $75 gift card payment, the process of gaining this grant is quite complicated. 

In the beginning, the university only had enough funds to give 500 students this grant. Yet, that number boosted up to 2,000, according to an email sent by the Office of the Chancellor on Mar. 12, Friday afternoon. 

Despite the hardships brought on by the pandemic, throughout the school year, the university hasn’t given students any grants or reduced the on-campus fees that students pay every quarter. Sheri Atkinson, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, claims that about 50 percent of the student body is living on campus––obviously unfair for those left behind to fend for themselves. 

If 50 percent of the student body resides in Davis, I expected UC Davis to take the initiative and distribute more grants for those who opt for a stay-cation on-campus. UC Davis hasn’t considered the rest of the students who might not have qualified for the grant. 

As a student myself, I have experienced firsthand how misleading and unprofessional some on-campus organizations can be. After applying for an EOP ‘Basic Needs Grant’ and getting accepted, I was still completely ignored by two staff members after sending three separate emails. Unfortunately, students like myself who struggle to pay rent or pay utilities undergo this negligent treatment and are still denied their dues. 

Other students, including myself, face an even bigger obstacle because we are DACA recipients. We don’t qualify for many federal aids, grants or scholarships that offer extra financial resources. A fourth-year student, who also identifies as a DACA recipient, informed me through an interview that many of the grants and financial resources that on-campus organizations offer are very misleading.

“I spent 30 minutes in an interview, and it wasn’t until the end that they told me I didn’t qualify. I could’ve been doing something else during those 30 minutes,” the student told me. “They rejected me because I did not take out any loans. I’m on scholarships because I do not want to take out loans. I’m trying to avoid debt.”

She let me know that she had completed interviews, sometimes two, with different organizations and almost always didn’t qualify for them because she hasn’t taken out any loans. 

It’s troubling to see some students unable to take out loans because they don’t have the financial resources to come out of debt in due time. 

Organizations on-campus that advertise and encourage students to apply fail to mention the rigorous interview process after the application and the likelihood of being referred to other resources that you might not qualify for or aren’t enough to support you financially. 

Although the grant may sound persuasive for students, the probability of receiving the grant is slim because of the limited number of only 2,000 grants offered. According to ABC News, around 5,900 students are on campus, and it’s likely that many of them don’t know about the available grant. Few advertisements are getting distributed––aside from the Office of the Chancellor’s email. 

Although this encourages many students to stay on-campus, only a few will qualify for the grant, leaving many students on the sidelines. 

It’s safe to say that many continuing students struggle with the thought of renewing apartment leases or beginning a housing contract through the university. Many of them haven’t decided to stay at home or come back to Davis for the possibility that COVID-19 vaccinations will allow the campus to open again.

In a time of uncertainty for students with less financial resources, most of us aren’t sure what the best decision is moving forward. 

Michelle Moreno is a fourth-year majoring in English and minoring in Chicano Studies. She is from Downtown Los Angeles.

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