For the first time, students representing Arizona's three universities are taking big steps to make sure every student has a place to live and food on the table.
Anthony Rusk and Nikhil Dave have both served as student regents for the Arizona Board of Regents. They helped put together a first-of-its-kind survey, asking students if they've experienced food or housing insecurity. Rusk and Dave say, unfortunately, the results weren't surprising.
“We know people and friends who’ve experienced food and housing insecurity, who, if they had the extra resources or help to be as successful as they knew they could be, they would still be at university or graduating," said Rusk.
Rusk and Dave say students struggling to make ends meet may also be more likely to drop out of college and the benefits of higher education ultimately impact everyone.
“We have a better economic system when we have more graduates, more people attending university. They typically go on, they have higher-wage jobs. It's better for the economics of the state," said Dave. "There is all these indirect benefits of increasing attainment, enrollment and retention throughout the state."
The students are now working to create basic need committees at the universities that will check in frequently with the Arizona Board of Regents with their progress.
There are food pantries at ASU, NAU, and UArizona, but the students say this initiative goes beyond that. It's making sure all universities have a cohesive plan to tackle food and housing insecurity while making students more aware that resources are available.