UO campaign supports surge of students in financial crisis

First published in Around the O on March 26th, 2020.

The number of University of Oregon students in financial crisis is surging due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), as jobs on and off campus disappear in the wake of business closures and other restrictions meant to halt the spread of the disease.

Starting this week, the UO is reaching out to alumni and friends with an easy way to help by making a contribution to the Students in Crisis Fund, which assists students facing unusual hardship due to circumstances beyond their control. Donations to the fund can be made through DuckFunder, a UO crowdfunding website.

Requests from students in need to the Crisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Prevention Team typically number five or six per month. In March, there were 29 through March 23 — 26 of them related to COVID-19, many from self-supporting students who have lost jobs, are unable to pay rent and have already considered loans and other alternatives. As students transition to remote learning for spring term, needs continue to grow, according to the Office of the Dean of Students.

“We know many of our students are facing serious challenges during this unprecedented crisis,” President Michael Schill said. “We also know that our UO family wants to help. We are doing everything in our power to protect our students’ health and well-being. At the same time, we are deeply committed to ensuring they can continue to pursue their education. This fund will help us support our students and respond to some of their urgent individual needs.”

The fund, comprised entirely of private donations, was started two years ago by the Parents Leadership Council, a passionate group of Duck parents who serve as leaders, mentors and advisers while addressing challenges and opportunities related to student life. Through the fund, students have traveled home to grieve the loss of a loved one, relocated from unsafe housing and paid unexpected medical bills, among other concerns.

Students in crisis are encouraged to contact the Office of the Dean of Students by emailing [email protected]; calling 541-346-3216 during business hours; or filling out a Community Care and Support Form.

Students will be connected with a member of the crisis intervention team who can examine basic needs with the student and ensure they have information for support resources on and off campus. Issuing funds to the student is an orchestrated process that involves the leadership council, Financial Aid and Scholarships, Office of the Dean of Students, Division of Student Life and Business Affairs.

“The Office of the Dean of Students wants to ensure that students who have an emergency need for funds are able to connect with a crisis intervention team member through phone, email or other means to discuss their request,” said Jimmy Howard, assistant dean of students for prevention and response. “Based on our experiences, we know that students who are applying for the crisis funds have needs which likely extend past or are connected to the immediate need for financial support.”

Visit uoregon.edu/coronavirus for updates on the university’s response to COVID-19.

By Matt Cooper, University Communications