More resources for Rams

This week, the Rams Resource Center (RRC) opened.

Do you know what that is? If not, you aren’t alone.

FSU opened its first food pantry in West Hall. It’s intended to aid the campus community, particularly students, but it seems many of those students didn’t get the message.

For this week’s “Campus Conversations,” we asked students what they knew about the RRC.

We learned that many of them have no idea what the center is, where it is located, or who it is for. And yet the center is intended for them!

Administrators and staff members on this campus know by now that emails and Facebook posts are not enough to catch people’s attention. For many, emails from administrators either get ignored or sent directly into the trash folder.

Administrators, faculty, and staff should be making a point to promote the RRC to all students – in classes, at events, or even when speaking with them around campus. You can never tell who needs to hear the message.

In fact, a survey conducted in 2017 found that over 30 percent of students at FSU faced food insecurity in the previous year. [Editor’s Note: To read more regarding this issue see the front page.]

The center is operated thanks to volunteers from the FSU community.

However, there is a shockingly low number of volunteers for the center – only 25 people completed the mandatory volunteer training, according to Michelle Yestrepsky, coordinator of student support initiatives. Of the 25, there are currently only 18 volunteers.

We at The Gatepost urge students who can find time in their schedules to volunteer. These volunteer positions are open to faculty, students, and staff. And if you don’t have the time, but you have the resources, donate!

The RRC is currently only open two days a week – Mondays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Wednesdays from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. That means there are only 6-and-a-half hours a week when the center is available.

One can only assume if there were more volunteers, the center could be open for more hours each week.

This would allow those students taking night classes, working multiple jobs, or those who are only on our campus two days a week greater opportunity to utilize this vital service.

Katy Abel, the associate commissioner for external affairs for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, said while food pantries on college campuses are important, those efforts alone are not enough.

We at The Gatepost agree. While the pantry is a great start, there greater efforts are needed to educate students about other resources available – such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), for which students who are living paycheck to paycheck may qualify.

We appreciate the effort and insight it took to get to this point. We believe the the Rams Resource Center should be a springboard for addressing food insecurity on college campuses, instead of a one-and-done patch for the problem. 

And we’d be remiss not to address the deep root of this problem – the astronomical cost of public higher education in Massachusetts. This is, in part, the result of the state legislature divesting from public higher education over the years.

During this election season, remember your voice. Let the state legislature know that funding higher education – investing in the future of the state – is important.

Let them know that it isn’t okay for your classmates to go hungry in order to afford an education.

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