Good Neighbors

Students Help Others Evicted From Campus Over Coronavirus

Kids at Tufts jump into help international and low-income college students left in a tough position.

Imagine you're a college student from far away or from a low income family. You depend on your school for room and board, maybe even wages from a work-study job. Now your university is telling you that you have just a few days to get yourself -- and all of your stuff -- off campus, as classes go on-line because of the Coronavirus.

Lecture halls are empty at many universities where they've switched to on-line instruction.

The situation has created a panic among college students who may not have a home to go to, or the means to get there. That's why students who do have means are stepping up to help.

At Tufts University, in Massachusetts, students have organized a "mutual aid" Facebook group, where students and alumni are offering support for students who have been given less than a week to be out of their residence halls.

"We had people offering frequent flyer miles, airline vouchers, even just straight money," Marley Hillman told Inside Higher Ed. Hillman, a Tufts junior and one of the organizers of the Tufts Mutual Aid Facebook group says they've raised more than $5,000 to distribute to students.

Plane tickets, frequent flier miles and vouchers are in heavy demand by students who can't afford to get home.Pixabay

The Facebook page is also allowing students connect with others who can help with specific needs. There's an online form to fill out if you can offer non-monetary resources, and a place to see what's been offered and connect with someone who has what you need.

We also found good information posted, like details about food pantries that are popping up overnight on campus (and where people leaving campus can drop off unneeded food); where to get free boxes and short-term storage, even where to drop off textbooks for storage and possible sale next semester.

Marley Hillman and two friends organized the Tufts Mutual Aid Facebook page.WayUp.com

Hillman says the outpouring of support has been astounding. "We've been able to fully cover people's plane tickets home, and that's been incredible. We've been collecting donations through Venmo, and we've been able to just distribute money, because one of the other things that's going to hit vulnerable populations at Tufts pretty hard is that most students' campus jobs are ending."

Way to go Tufts students -- you're definitely making a difference in the lives of your stressed-out fellow students!

How can you start something good?

If you'd like to help out the Tufts students, go to the link on the Mutual Aid Facebook page and offer up anything of use you can provide. Frequent flier miles are in great demand.

You can also donate money to the University's Unexpected Hardship Fund For Student Needs.

Don't live in the Boston area? Chances are there's a college or university where you live that's going to on-line instruction and where international, out of town, and low-income students are struggling with what to do. Do an on-line search or contact them directly to see if you can help.

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