SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Tensions are escalating between San Jose State University students and the administration over the high number of homeless students. Students say the university is not making the issue a top priority.
“I feel like they are trying to project SJSU as this great technology school for the future and they’re dusting the homeless under the rug,” said student Ashley Crosdale, a leader with the Homeless Student Alliance.
The university says it does provide free food assistance for students and it formed a new service to help homeless students called SJSU Cares. A California State University report said as many as 4,000 students at SJSU experienced homelessness during their college careers.
“Any student who needs temporary emergency housing, their needs will be met. That’s what we stand by,” said Christine Hutchins, an SJSU Spokesperson.
But the university’s own figures show out of 189 students who contacted SJSU Cares during the past academic year, only six received emergency housing, 18 got emergency funds, 53 got additional financial aid and 21 got financial aid loans. The university says students have various needs and not all of them request emergency housing.
“This is a national crisis across the U.S.,” Hutchins said. Maggie Young is a student and a single mother of two small children. She had been living in an RV but now rents a converted garage about ten miles away from campus.
She spoke up at a news conference called by the Student Homeless Alliance with her two-year-old at her side.
“I cannot wait around to hit rock bottom where it comes to sleeping in my car with my children,” Young said. Young said she checked into on-campus housing through SJSU Cares, but was turned away because she has kids.
“That’s where there is a disconnect because they do have family housing. But it’s only for faculty or graduate students. And because I don’t have a bachelor’s degree, I’m disqualified,” she said.
Pastor Scott Wagers formed the Homeless Student Alliance in 1992 when he was an SJSU student. He said there were virtually no homeless students then and the organization was formed to help people living on San Jose streets.
He said it’s shocking that the SHA now had to shift the focus to fellow students.
“Seeing young people doing nothing wrong and pursuing their goals but you found yourself homeless in a wealthy place like this and people blamed you for it. San Jose State has to do better,” Wagers said.
The students say they are planning a conference next month on November 22nd and 23rd and are inviting student groups from other universities in California to participate in hopes of finding support and statewide solutions.