OSWEGO — On Tuesday, May 5, a global day of giving and unity commonly known as -GivingTuesday, SUNY Oswego celebrated the more than 200 donors who have made a gift to SUNY Oswego’s Student Emergency Fund that the college recently established to assist students with unanticipated expenses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, the fund has surpassed $54,000 and provided support to 48 students.
With health and state officials advising college students to leave campus and return to their homes in March, students have had to adjust to not having the lifestyle and resources they had on campus—including computer labs, internet access, food, housing, work-study employment and in-person support systems.
The fund has made it possible for SUNY Oswego to support those students who have requested assistance with monthly bills (phone, internet, etc.), technology needs, healthcare expenses and help with rent/housing costs, according to Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Kathleen Smits Evans ’84.
The money raised for the Student Emergency Fund is managed by staff members in the Dean of Students office. They make recommendations to the Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Jerri Howland based on information they receive from students about their specific needs or when they are made aware of a student’s need through another source, such as a faculty member, another staff member or the student’s peer.
The fund is positively impacting SUNY Oswego students. A sophomore student wrote, “Due to the coronavirus going on at this moment my family is at a financial disadvantage. Most recently the WiFi and cable was shut off, which stopped both me and my sister from doing school work. Thank you for the help for my family. From the bottom of our heart we are grateful to Oswego.”
An international student wrote that he was furloughed from his job and unable to pay his rent. The Oswego College Foundation worked with the student’s landlord and paid the rent and some of his utility expenses.
Another student wrote, “With this grant, I will be able to purchase the necessary ebooks required for my classes to complete online discussion assignments.”
Leigh Wilson, professor of creative writing and chair of the English department, learned about the fund during a faculty meeting in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and said she saw the wisdom in a fund that could be distributed discreetly to the students with the greatest need for it.
“Our students are proud people,” Wilson said. “They are smart, passionate, creative, can-do individuals and have a great deal to be proud about. This fund gives them a way to ask for help that is much, much easier and that, in the end, honors all of the pride that they have so richly earned.”
SUNY Oswego alumna and adjunct instructor Linda Black-Ochsenbein ’04 M’11 said she hopes that the fund can help students from “falling between the cracks” and give them the support they need during a tumultuous time. “I know and see what it is like for many students to try to stretch their dollars and deal with unexpected expenses,” she said. “I feel I can show my appreciation for them and my dedication to their pursuit by donating to the fund.”