While we’ve always known that our students struggled to balance their work in the classroom with their obligations beyond school—paying bills, caring for family, making sure that housing and medical needs are met—we’ve become more focused on the direct impact that these outside-the-classroom needs have on academic success. Of over 400 students in our Spring 2016 courses, 22% of passing students said that paying for needs unrelated to school was a challenge for them in that term, while 40% of those who did not pass cited finances as an obstacle. Indeed, this was the biggest difference in what passing and failing students cited as challenges.
This year, we’re working hard to address those dire needs—medical, psychological, and financial—in a number of ways. First, we have compiled a list of on-campus resources for students and created a page with links to them on our own website (history.fiu.edu/undergraduate/resources-for-students/). There are many great resources at FIU but they can be a little hard to find at such a big school, especially in a moment of need. We hope this will help students and the faculty and staff they turn to. Secondly, we have worked directly with one of the great resources on campus, The FIU Food Bank. The History Department hosted a food drive and is also working to raise awareness about the Food Bank so that the students who might need it are aware that it exists.
We cannot eliminate need among our students but we are trying to help meet those needs as best we can. We hope our students can worry less about meeting their basic needs and focus more their academic success and future goals.
History Tutors and Office Assistants Rafael Socarras and Elysée Yhuel help bring some of the Department’s food donations to the FIU Food Pantry in DM 166.