Looking for Lifelines

by Chris Waide
November 20, 2020

Times are tough all over. In truth, things were hard for many of us even before the novel coronavirus reared its ugly head. Hopefully, all students are aware of the ample educational resources at their disposal. The Library and Computer Lab are both vital to many of our low-income students whose access to technology is often limited. The tutors in the Learning Center are an excellent resource for those times when you find yourself stumped or strenuously struggling in your studies. But what if you find yourself in a crisis not related to academics?

Even before the pandemic, some studies had shown that up to a third of college students were food insecure and/or lacked adequate housing. Another study showed that up to thirty-five percent of college students struggle with mental health issues. Dealing with any one of these issues can have a significant impact on a student’s ability to study successfully. Sadly, many people who face these issues tend to suffer from more than one. Society has also imposed many stigmas on the people burdened by these problems. Many avoid asking for help because they are afraid to be labelled as a bum, free-loader, mooch, or any one of the limitless derogatory phrases we have invented to dehumanize the mentally unwell.

But there are many resources available to assist people in need. For students, some of them are even on campus. For example, the college has a food pantry for any student in need. Reach out to the Office of Student Engagement and Inclusion by emailing: sa@genesee.edu. In addition to the campus, there are also food pantries scattered throughout the county, including one in Batavia behind City Church available on Thursdays and Saturdays. Even hitting multiple pantries in a month is unlikely to provide a person with all their needed nutrients. The Department of Social Services (DSS) may be able to assist with SNAP Benefits (more commonly referred to as “food stamps”).

GCC also has a Counseling Center for moments of crisis. Beyond simply being a confidential ear, they can help direct students towards additional resources as well. Contact them by emailing counseling@genesee.edu. There are hotlines for any crisis one can imagine. Whether someone is struggling to cope with domestic abuse or sexual assaults, needs help to quit smoking, or is having suicidal ideations, there is a hotline for them, and help is out there. People struggling with mental illness can also consider therapy, and if a person is having thoughts of suicide, they should seek emergency help immediately.

Housing can also be challenging for students. Landlords are not supposed to discriminate against students, but speaking from experience, some do. College dorms are available but they do not grant a roof for the entire year. It is possible that DSS can put somebody up in a motel for a little while, but they tend to send people to shelters. There are programs that can relieve some of the burden though. Subsidized housing is income-based, and there is also Pathstone (commonly referred to as Section 8 or HUD), however there are waiting lists.

Especially in these stressful times it is important to take care of oneself mentally and physically. For many students, for many Americans, for many people, this last year has been a stressful, turbulent time. In some cases, knowing the available local resources may be vital to survival. There are good resources out there for anyone who needs them, and students have a few added advantages of campus-based resources.