The University of California Board of Regents Governance and Compensation Committee unanimously approved the creation of a new special committee on basic needs at the Board of Regents meeting November 13-15.
The committee, created by Student Regent Devon Graves, Student Regent-designate Hayley Weddle, and Board of Regents Chair George Kieffer, will take two years to review basic needs insecurity—students that struggle to find food, housing, and other essential resources—in the UC system. A final report proposing improvements to current initiatives will be released in 2020.
“Our vision is for the Special Committee to develop a long-term plan to address basic needs across the UC,” UC Student Regent-designate Hayley Weddle told The Triton. “This includes: researching food, housing, and financial insecurity within the UC and nationally; exploring current basic needs initiatives at each of the UC campuses; and creating recommendations for addressing basic needs insecurity to be included in the committee’s final report.”
Members of the special committee will be appointed by the Governance and Compensation Committee—the Board of Regents committee that approved the basic needs special committee. Graves and Weddle will be committee members, along with other Regents and potentially some UC chancellors and advisors.
“Creating this committee is only one piece of addressing basic needs,” Student Regent-designate Hayley Weddle told The Triton. “Since 2014, students, staff, and faculty across the 10 UC campuses have been working collectively to develop food and housing insecurity initiatives.”
Weddle noted that this committee is a reflection of the student advocacy that has been ongoing for years. The UC Student Association has an ongoing campaign called ACQUIRE, which supports access to campus resources, including basic needs. Associated Students of UC San Diego (ASUCSD) has an office that helps connect students to basic needs resources on campus.
At UCSD, students can go the basic needs website to access resources offered by The Hub in the Old Student Center. Students can also access the Triton Food Pantry, a service created by ASUCSD, to get food each week.
Furthermore, UCSD students can apply for CalFresh, a federally-mandated and state-supervised basic needs assistance program. CalFresh allows students to buy groceries with an Electronic Benefit Transfer card, which is similar to a credit or debit card, but gives money to help pay for groceries .
In addition to the special committee, Graves and Weddle advocated for adding basic needs funding to the UC Office of the President’s budget. While those funds were not in the budget, Graves said that UC President Janet Napolitano and the Board of Regents were receptive to making those changes.
“The campuses, UCOP, and the State of California have made great strides with addressing basic needs,” UC Student Regent Devon Graves told The Triton. “The committee…will provide the Regents with the opportunity to help support improving efforts to address basic needs on the 10 campuses by ensuring best practices are shared between campuses.”
Ethan Coston is an Assistant News Editor for The Triton. You can follow him at @ethan4books.