The Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Ithaca College has extended its coat drive, which has been ongoing since October, until March 2020. Students, staff and faculty are invited to not only bring their coats but also take coats if they need from the donation rack in the hallway outside of CAPS. There is also a collection of money that is going on with the coat drive in order for CAPS to purchase coats to add to the collection as well.
The extension of the coat drive not only shows the success of the drive but also shows how needed this service is for members of the campus community. It forces the question: What other resources are needed by the campus community that might be available to silently claim off a donation rack?
Since the college is a private liberal arts college with increasing tuition, there are individuals either in attendance or employed by the college who vary greatly in socioeconomic levels. This is the reality of any institution of higher learning — there are students who have disposable income and can spend without thought. There are students who are silently struggling, who live off of each dime, and each moment of spending leads to bouts of anxiety. There are students who fall in between these two extremes. Despite the varying disparities in wealth, the common denominator is that often these differences are not always visible.
There are students silently, and not so silently, struggling to get by on the college’s campus. The college has responded to these realities in a few different ways. For example, the college opened up The Pantry a year ago in February 2019, a resource that is an on-campus food pantry for students to visit and take food for free. There is another mobile food pantry organized by the Food Bank of the Southern Tier that comes to the campus at least once a month and also provides food for students for no additional charge.
The spike in food donations and services for food insecurity on campus came after the results of the Campus Climate Survey, taken in 2016, reported that nearly 500 students living on the college’s campus had difficulty affording food. While the issue of food availability is being improved, it is clear from the continuation of this coat drive that there are other student needs that are still not being properly met, or even acknowledged.
It is the responsibility of not only the college but also all members of its community to be aware of these disparities on campus and support those who are struggling. If you have meal swipes that are not being used, donate them to Swipe Out Hunger. If you have a coat you do not use, donate it to the coat drive. These may seem like small things, but they are also simple things that could make a world of a difference to a student that is silently struggling on the campus. It is everyone’s responsibility to do things to help others, and the coat drive is a great example of members of the college community taking initiative.