According to recent reports, college students nationwide are experiencing increasing challenges on their path to a degree. A 2018 survey conducted by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab revealed that over a third of college students struggle with food insecurity and finding stable housing.
At Winona State University, we understand that many of our Warriors experience challenges outside the classroom, which can impact progress toward academic goals. These challenges can include mental health concerns, housing and food insecurity, grief and loss, child and family care, transportation, and access to technology.
Our students are people first, and their lives are complex. We know students who access basic needs support and resources are more likely to experience academic success and persist to graduation. We want to support students as they navigate their academic journey, while overcoming some of these challenges and obstacles to achieve personal and academic success.
These deficits in meeting basic needs are owed in part to changing demographics in college student populations.
As more students from low-income families pursue two- and four-year degrees, the percentage of college students that have at least one basic need insecurity continues to increase. This, coupled with decreases in public funding for higher education and subsequent increases in student tuition bills, has led to a surge in basic needs insecurity among college students across the U.S.
In response, Winona State has doubled down on its commitment to supporting students throughout their educational journeys and to help students meet their basic needs.
The University, along with all colleges and universities in the Minnesota State system, recently announced a partnership with United Way 2-1-1 to establish a statewide basic needs resource. The United Way 2-1-1 service is free, confidential, and available 24/7 via text message or phone call. The service connects students with local resources as well as resources across Minnesota, both on college campuses and in communities.
Basic Needs Resources on Campus
On campus, WSU offers a number of services designed to assist students in meeting their basic needs and being successful in their studies:
- The Warrior Cupboard is an on-campus food shelf that provides students access to quality food on a regular basis through supplemental nutrition assistance when they need it. Food insecurity can lead to lower grades and poor physical and mental health, so the Warrior Cupboard offers discrete and convenient access to healthy food options for students.
- For housing support, Winona State has a variety of residence halls available to students, including options for summer housing. Students often find roommates through their WSU “Class of” Facebook groups and off-campus apartments in the Wazoo’s List Facebook group. University employees can also help connect students as needed to local housing assistance and help them to learn about available housing options in the City of Winona.
- WSU students have many options to consider when it comes to taking care of their mental health, from one-on-one counseling to interacting with therapy dogs, which can help relieve stress and homesickness for students missing their pets.
- For student parents, the WSU’s Children Center is located right on campus and offers discounted childcare and priority registration for enrolled students.
According to Stoltz, these are just a few ways Winona State is helping students meet their basic needs.
For more information, visit the Winona State Basic Needs website at: https://wsu.mn/basic-needs.