By Zenia Henderson, Director of Member & Partner Engagement
"The work of equity requires us to slow down in the midst of challenges and crises, and take a bold stand in the interest of safety, first. Safety means many different things, and this is where centering equity becomes increasingly essential." –The Justice Collective
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused schools and colleges across the country to close, delayed national sports league seasons, banned gatherings of 50+ people, restricted travel, and has essentially catapulted the entire world into a frenzy of fear and insecurity. During this very uncertain time, we know that these sanctions are especially impactful for some of our most vulnerable populations: the elderly, young children, employees with hourly wages, and college students who are first-generation or from low-income backgrounds.
"I think the coronavirus is the external shock to the higher-ed system that will shine the light on inequality that has previously been ignored. The closures highlight how our procedures are just as classed as our college campuses are.” –Anthony Abraham Jack
NCAN members work diligently with a cross section of these populations in so many ways, and we know that you have your students and their families top of mind. It’s likely that you have asked yourself, discussed with your teams, looked to your peers, and outright screamed out loud the following questions or thoughts:
What do we do with our students who can’t just “go home” now that their institution is closing? My students don’t even have laptops or Wi-Fi at home, how are they expected to get their virtual class work done? Our students are hearing racist remarks from their peers and feel alienated by the xenophobia coming to light due to the coronavirus. My students are stressing out about not meeting critical college admissions and financial aid deadlines, how do I find out how the college admissions field is responding?
In fact, I guarantee it. And you are not alone. We are all sharing the same concerns, questions, and outrage about the inequities that (continue to) plague our health care system, our workforce, and our education system. Our students matter, and now is the time to stand up even taller and stronger together to advocate on their behalf. Don’t forget this moment and the need to elevate these social justice issues once the world has this pandemic under control.
Meanwhile, NCAN has gathered a series of resources to share with our members in an effort to help support and guide your more urgent and immediate work with students and families who are being affected by COVID-19 in disproportionate ways. The information found in our resource roundup will be updated as the situation progresses and/or as we learn about new resources that could be of benefit to the NCAN community.