When we consider the ways in which our classrooms are diverse, many of us first think of what we consider to be “visible” identities. These often include identity factors such as race and gender, both of which may or may not be “visible” depending on a variety of contexts. Many people may not consider students experiencing hunger and/or homelessness when thinking about their classroom diversity.
Why should we be concerned with these experiences? They can affect student performance and well-being (Hagedorn et al. 2019; Miesing et al. 2019; Weaver et al 2019). In a 2019 study, 86,000 students participated in a basic needs security assessment (Goldrick-Rab et al. 2019). This study found that of these students:
- 45% were food insecure in the past 30 days,
- 56% were housing insecure in the past year, and
- 17% were homeless in the past year.
We should assume that some of our IUB students are facing food insecurity, housing insecurity, and/or homelessness. This is confirmed by the presence of a food pantry on the IUB campus, the Crimson Cupboard Food Pantry, which all students can access. As we consider the identities of our students and ourselves it is necessary to remember that identity factors (such as class, gender, sexuality) intersect to produce experience (Collins 1993).
How can we implement practices in our classrooms that may help students who are experiencing homelessness and/or food insecurity? Some of the following are easily implemented:
- Put resources in your syllabus and/or on your course website. Include local information about housing resources and food resources, as well as federal resources such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- Consider low-cost options for your students, like utilizing eTexts. At the end of the semester, you might also ask whether students are willing to donate class supplies and/or textbooks, so that you may provide them for future students.
- Think about your language. Using language such as “bum,” or laughing at the idea that “students will attend anything there is food at” can place shame on those who are experiencing housing and food insecurities.
If you’re interested in learning more practices for expanding classroom diversity, attend our upcoming workshop, Practices and Language for Expanding Classroom Diversity to “Invisible” Populations on Thursday, October 3, 2019.
Collins, Patricia Hill (1993) Toward a New Vision: Race, Class, and Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection. Race, Sex & Class (1)1: 25-45
Goldrick-Rab, Sara, Christine Baker-Smith, Vanessa Coca, Elizabeth Looker, and Tiffany Williams (2019) College and University Basic Needs Insecurity: A National #RealCollege Survey Report.
Hagedorn, R. L., L. H. McArthur, L. B. Hood, M. Berner, E. T. Anderson Steeves, C. L. Connell, E. Wall-Bassett, M. Spence, O.T. Babatunde, E. B. Kelly, J. F. Waity, J. P. Lillis, and M. D. Olfert (2019) Expenditure, Coping, and Academic Behaviors among Food-Insecure College Students at 10 Higher Education Institutes in the Appalachian and Southeastern Regions. American Society for Nutrition 3(6).
Miesing, Paul, Janine Jurkowski, Irene Woerden, Daniel Hruschka, and Meg Bruening (2019) Food Insecurity Negatively Impacts Academic Performance. Journal of Public Affairs 19(3).
Weaver, R. R., N. A. Vaughn, S. P. Hendricks. P. E. McPherson-Myers, Q. Jia, S. L. Willis, and K. P. Rescigno (2019) University Student Food Insecurity and Academic Performance. Journal of American College Health: 1-7.