This post was updated on July 11 at 1:38 p.m.
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Many Bruins call UCLA home — but for some, it may be their only place of safety.
About 350 UCLA students identify as former adoptive youth, according to a May press release from the UCLA Newsroom. These students, who were previously in foster care, experienced insufficient funding for programs, a lack of quality mental health services and uncertain living conditions. But as the pandemic compounds housing insecurity and exacerbates financial hardship, they and other historically underserved communities on campus are bearing the brunt of the burden.
Unfortunately, UCLA falls short.
The UCLA Bruin Guardians Scholars, a program that helps current and former young students navigate campus life, told the administration in a May 11 letter that the university’s current resources are insufficient to support students. who are or have been in foster care.
UCLA cannot wait for students to come to its administrators when they see an injustice. Instead, he must strive to be more inclusive of his own volition at all times. Anything less than that risks letting the Bruins slip through the cracks.
Young homestay students are being hit hard by steep rent price increases and limited housing options at and around UCLA, especially since many students have no place to return to. after a school year or during school holidays. The fact that Westwood is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country for renters doesn’t help matters.
Moreover, young homestay students are also underrepresented among those pursuing higher education. While about 31% of the general population earns a bachelor’s degree, only 3% to 5% of foster kids in the United States do.
This statistic is perhaps unsurprising, given the lack of institutional resources for young homestay students. At UCLA, a student said the BGS had less than five staff members.
All of these conditions require stronger support from UCLA for the host youth community. In its letter, BGS asked the university to reallocate donor funds to cover student housing costs, increase resources and funding for the BGS program, and develop community and residential spaces for young students with families. reception on campus, among other requests.
At a system-wide level, the University of California Foster Youth Student Coalition is making similar demands for more mental health resources, accessible housing, and increased staff.
As a university that is supposed to be committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion, UCLA must make higher education more accessible to young homestay students. This is an essential step to meet BGS and UCFYSC requirements.
In fairness, UCLA is creating an endowment fund for the BGS program following a million dollar donation from Jill and Timothy Harmon, who were former adoptive parents. The endowment would also fund the salary of a full-time social worker for the program.
While this is a promising first step, UCLA should listen to students to understand and address the specific needs of young Bruins in foster care. It must also bring to the table and use all of its existing resources, expertise, and programs—such as the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families—in its efforts to address the issues described.
The pandemic has disrupted the lives of many students, hitting marginalized communities particularly hard. To fulfill its mission as one of the nation’s premier public institutions of higher learning, UCLA must provide housing and food security for all of its students, especially those who may be underserved.
Failure to do so makes college anything but a home.