SAN JOSE (KPIX) — About two dozen San Jose State University students marched on campus Monday to call attention to the homeless crisis and how it is affecting students with no place to live.
Students asked for supporters to call the University President’s office to demand action.
Leading the group was sociology student Saline Chandler. She has housing now, but spent much of last year homeless.
“I slept outside, I slept on bus stops, I slept here on campus on benches,” Chandler said.
She is one of three students representing the Student Homeless Alliance, who will meet with University President Mary Papazian and other university officials to present a list of demands the students say will help solve the crisis.
The students want the university to provide at least ten safe parking spots in a university garage, 12 beds for homeless students in the dorms and one-time grants of $2,500 to help students pay rent.
“These are programs that have been enacted at other CSU’s and UC’s,” said David Avalos, who is also a member of the Student Homeless Alliance. “So we know that these demands can be met. They’re reasonable.”
A report from the California State University Chancellor’s office found 13 percent of San Jose State Students have been homeless within the past year.
With a student body of 33,000 students, that translates to about 4,000 students who sleep in cars, couch surf or sleep in the Martin Luther King library or nearby shelters and churches.
University officials say they are concerned.
“We have said from the very beginning that the university is committed to the academic and personal well-being of all of our students,” said university spokesperson Christine Hutchins.
But in interviews Monday, SJSU officials would not answer the student’s specific demands. Instead, they pointed to recent updates on the university’s website that make it easier for students in crisis to find one-on-one services through SJSU Cares portal.
The school is also about to launch a permanent free food pantry on campus for students going hungry.
“We are looking to find long-term, sustainable solutions,” Hutchins said.
Students say they will press the administration for long term solutions like more on campus housing, but say there must be short term measures for students needing shelter right now.
“The university needs to do more,” said Chandler.